The Last Ferry
The first week in September found me still recovering from my cracked ribs and collar bone. I was not able to hike at all, but I did manage to get out for a road trip with my friend David. One of the neat things about living here in Northwest Arkansas is all the different opportunities one has for recreational activities. Whether it's a week or two week family vacation with fishing, canoeing, hiking and watching the wildlife or a day trip by us locals to search out something new, the Ozarks has it. The Buffalo National River Park, the Ozark National Forest, the Ouachita National Forest, plus the various wilderness areas, wildlife management areas and lakes makes for endless excursions and adventures.
Bull Shoals Lake is one of four lakes in Northwest Arkansas. Bull Shoals Dam was completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1951. It is the fifth largest concrete dam in the United States. Including the portion located in Missouri, the lake totals some 45,500 surface acres. Almost 1,000 miles of rugged shoreline is open to visitors and 60,000 acres of public land provide a variety of opportunities. Located on Arkansas Highway 125 just north of Peel is one of the very cool features of Bull Shoals Lake, the last public ferry to be run by the Arkansas State Department of Highway and Transportation. It takes you across the lake from Peel, Arkansas to Protem, Missouri.
We decided to drive up from Harrison, take the ferry across and have lunch in Missouri. We started out about 9 on a clear, but warm morning. It was supposed to be another day of highs in the 90's and no rain. It was a very pleasant drive up Highway 7, with excellent views along Hwy 281 as we took the back way over to the ferry, crossing several one lane bridges. Once we arrived we stopped at the sign and waited for the ferry to arrive. It makes a round trip every 40 minutes, so you don't have to wait long, if at all.
The ferry arrived and we drove on-board. The captain swung the tug around and we began our journey to the other side. I got out and visited a bit with a couple men riding motorcycles. They were from Minnesota and were staying in my home town of Harrison. It was a slow and steady journey across the lake and took about 20 minutes.
Once we disembarked we drove right into Buck Creek Campground. This is another fine campsite run by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and has 34 very nice class A campsites with water and electricity for your camping trailer. There is a swimming area and playground plus day use pavilions with grills. Drinking water, flush toilets and showers are some of the amenities available. A full service marina is also on site along with a public boat ramp.
We continued into Missouri still on hwy 125 and drove to Protem. We turned down a road and found ourselves at Pinder's Resort, a fishing camp for those who want to vacation on Bull Shoals Lake. They have very nice lodging facilities, a large pool, and their own boat dock where you can park you boat for a week. A very cool bulldog escorted us around.
There, after we visited with the owners for a short while we turned around and drove back to Tonys Pizza House where we had a really nice meal. Their pizza is delicious, the service is terrific and the local charm is irresistable! Once we were all fat and happy we rode the ferry back to the Arkansas side of the lake and drove home