Eureka Springs West ~ Gateway to the great outdoors

Monday, July 28, 2008
The White River -- a great place for kayaking

Clear water, gentle breezes, long, sun-kissed days: it's simply not summer until you go swimming. Beaver Lake is irresistible this time of year, whether you float on it, or dive right in. Snorkel for tiny shells in the clear shallows, or gear up for scuba and explore the rich underwater world of the Ozarks; either way, it's a beautiful way to spend a day. No matter what you may need for your day in the sun, from fishing tackle and guide services, boat rentals, or sunblock, it's all available at area businesses around the lake and White River. And when that appetite is worked up, stop at one of the great area restaurants, just minutes from the water's edge. From a sunrise fishing trip to a sunset dip, the times are sweet and easy in Eureka Springs West. There's also superb fishing, hiking and water fun at Lake Leatherwood Park, so plan a day of relaxation at each spot, and stay over at a secluded cabin or cottage in the area.

Stunning views, easy access to the water, and the cool winds drifting from the lake in the evening: this is the way summer is supposed to be. There's also lots of things to see and do, from the Belle of the Ozarks pontoon cruise on the lake, to shopping for antiques and crafts, and exploring area history. Spend some time in Eureka Springs West, and you'll learn why folks are so easygoing and friendly out here; life is good by the lake.

The first cooling-off spot you'll find along US62W is Lake Leatherwood Park. This city park has 1,600 acres, and surrounds an 85-acre spring-fed lake, where crappie, bream, large mouth bass and channel catfish swim lazily by, waiting for a juicy tidbit on a line.

Celebrate two ES West anniversaries -- Paradise Pottery's 10th and Lake Leatherwood's 70th!

The park is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, since the dam and buildings were constructed during the WPA years in the 1940s. The dam was built from hand-cut limestone and is a testament to the workers and stone crafters of the period. In addition to fishing, you can dive in for some cool swimming from the historic dive platform, or take a hike along the park's scenic trails, which are also approved for bicycles.

Just a few minutes farther down US62 and you'll find the turnoff to Beaver Lake and the White River on your left, Hwy. 187. If you miss the turnoff, don't worry, in a couple of miles you'll find another one, also on your left; Hwy. 187 makes a loop past the lake. And if your desire for water-filled fun is an impulse, never fear, because there are several shops to help you out.

Once you're on the second turnoff of Hwy. 187 you'll find Beaver Dam Store. They've got you covered with guided fishing trips on the lake or river, boat and canoe rentals, munchies and even a rod and reel to rent if you're completely on the fly. Spider Creek Resort is close by, too, with cabins, RV pads, jon boat and canoe rentals, guided trips and bait and tackle.

All can get you hooked up with a fishing license, and don't forget the sunblock!

If you work your way down to Starkey Park off Hwy. 187 via Mundell Road, you'll find Starkey Marina. They have almost any kind of watercraft you want for the day, from small fishing boats to Sea-Doos and pontoon boats. If you brought your own boat (because you plan to spend a lot of time out there), then you're in luck, because Starkey's offers daily slip rentals as well.

Have a boat, but no clue? Hire a striper guide for the best tips and tricks.

Of course, sometimes it's just more fun to let someone else do the driving. Next to Starkey's Marina is the Belle of the Ozarks, which offers fun, informative tours aboard the Belle, a roomy passenger vessel. It really is a blast, and you haven't seen the coolest Ozarks scenery until you do it.

After all that fun, it's time to get wet, so head on back to the Dam Site park area, and jump in! Sure, you might even see a fish or two while you swim, and the lake won't turn your hair green, either. The day's been so relaxing, just the cool, clear water, let's get out and do it all again tomorrow in Eureka Springs West.

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