Location: St Charles, Arkansas
Webpage: National Wildlife Refuge
General Description: Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 for the protection of migratory birds and the fertile bottomland hardwood and wetland areas along the White River. Ranging from a quarter mile to 10 miles wide along 60 miles of the White River, this 160,000 acre refuge is one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi River Valley. “Its fertile forests and some three hundred lakes are interlaced with streams, sloughs, and bayous. The result is a haven for a myriad of native wildlife and migratory birds. ” There are many opportunities for fishing and hunting in the refuge, as well as, birdwatching, hiking, and enjoying nature.
1) Due to recent heavy rains, we limited our exploration of the refuge to the developed piece of the refuge close to the Visitor Center at St. Charles, beginning with the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has a lot of information about the refuge and is one of the better Visitor Centers we have visited. They have numerous interesting exhibits about the history, culture, and wildlife species and habitats that can be found on the refuge.
2) There are two trails close to the Visitor Center. The first heads out directly behind the Visitor Center down to a boardwalk across the slough leading to a strip of land with banks on the White River. The boardwalk was nice, although it was obvious that it was underwater in the past few days. Where the boardwalk ended, so did the trail as most of the strip of land leading to the river was still underwater. We saw a number of turtles and gar in the water from the boardwalk.
3) About a mile from the Visitor Center was an improved Uplands Trail that was completely dry. It’s most unusual feature is that the entire trail is paved, which is a little strange for a wildlife refuge. Still it is a nice easy trail through the upland forest in eastern Arkansas.