While neighboring Bentonville, Arkansas, and its popular mountain bike trail system gets much of the national hooplah when it comes to recreating in Northwest Arkansas, there’s another special outdoor-centric community right down the road that is worth exploring.
Not only is the town of Siloam Springs, Ark., famous for its healing spring waters…it’s got a shiny new whitewater park for all to enjoy. And like the surrounding mountain bike trails that are gaining national recognition, it too was partially funded by the Walton’s and their passion for outdoor sport.
Once upon a time, the Fisher Ford area of the Illinois River was a little spot only NWA insiders knew about. Now, when you pull off of Sawmill Road — once a county dirt road only traveled by local farmers — this gem along the Illinois river is now a whitewater paddling park, where 800 feet of engineered river rock entertains boaters of all types for free throughout the year.
Just fully developed within the last few years, although there are few amenities, the Siloam Springs Kayak Park brings in kayakers, rafters, canoeists and tubers from all over the region. It’s family friendly, free and fun — exactly what you’re looking for on those hot midwestern summer days. Locals say there’s really nothing else like it in the area. There’s plenty of free parking, a bouldering wall and open space.
The Arkansas Canoe Club is incredibly active in Northwest Arkansas and there are a number of spots within a couple hours of each other that make for great runs and play spots. But the Siloam Springs Kayak Park can be utilized in all types of weather — meaning when other river levels are down and un-runnable, this park was built so it can still be used.
From Highway 412 in Siloam Springs, take Lincoln Street (Highway 59 South) south 1.9 miles to Devor Road. Take a left on Devor Road and travel .4 miles to Fisher Ford Road. Turn right on Fisher Ford Road and follow it all the way to the park, 19253 Fisher Ford Road.
And who knows, maybe the healing waters of the region will help your paddling skills out as well.