A pretty fair snorkeling spot is the stream in the “Barkshed” camping
area a few miles north of the little town of Fifty-Six, Arkansas. The water warms up a little in summer, and is clear.
Entering the water is easy. The foreground of picture is the concrete roadway
that fords the stream. The water gets deepest in the shadows of the cliff, maybe 4 or 5 feet.
The biggest fish are some kind of sucker fish that tend to hold still on the
bottom so you can see them quite well.
Here is what the Barkshed ford looks like
as you approach.
The park offers camping spots and bathrooms
on the opposite bank.
This swim spot was the best for catching
“darters” (cool little fish for my taro ponds) and seeing snakes. One day there were two water snakes where the
water falls off of the ford.
(Keep scrolling down for more swim spots. I made these pictures
big so you could see how nice the water is.)
This spot is in the popular Blanchard
Springs park. It is easy for kids, pets, etc. Note the beach chairs in the water. The bathhouse features hot indoor showers.
($3 to park near the hot showers.)
Besides swimming there is a world class cave with tours, etc. Here
is a quick link that will open another window with pictures of the caverns:
The closest swimming spot is just down the road from the property. This is
the White River at relatively low water. (It is not always so mellow.) While snorkeling on this day I saw a couple of fair-sized
fish, bass I think.
You can walk to this spot – down thru our pawpaw holler,
out to Ruddle’s Ferry Rd, then down a half mile or so. I used to walk down twice a day for a swim break and to catch
fish for lunch and dinner.
water level at Mountain View follows the water level below the Norfolk dam (goes way up as they generate power in warm part
of day, way down at night), but is about 20 hours later. I had good luck on many afternoons and evenings in May 05 (it was
very dry, and they may have been conserving water).
This spot is part of the deeply mysterious “Gunner Pool”,
on the road between Blanchard Springs and Barkshed. The pool is behind an ancient dam built by hand by some of the first settlers
a few hundred years ago. Most of the water is very deep, but this spot (behind campsite #17) does allow you to get in and
out. Snorkeling was just OK, as it is mostly too deep to see much. Cool beaver pond near the end. On past visits I have seen
large turtles and snakes here, and zillions of big bullfrog pollywogs. Below the dam are some big fish in a small pond that
I have just seen from way above.
shot of Gunner Pool from the top of the old dam. This end of the pool would be extremely dangerous to swim in.
This is a swim spot on the main creek (North Sylamore) near
Gunner Pool. These creeks are not big. Occasionally they carve a deep hole under a giant cliff like this.
This was my most common swim spot in Sept 04. The warm rays
of the sun were starting to fade. I could park very close, get in for a quick swim and bath, and get out without getting too
cool. It is near the campsites below Gunner Pool.
On to wildlife