Eureka Springs, Arkansas is the kind of destination where visitors have a chance to slow their pace, and just relax. Even us travel bloggers find an opportunity to just go with the flow. This meant that when we heard about the Blue Spring Heritage Center on the western edge of the city limits, we had time in our schedule to check it out.
For thousands of years native tribes visited the Blue Spring area. In the mid-1800’s a grist mill was constructed just downstream. It was used to grind corn, until a new one was constructed in 1903. This new structure added a flour mill and saw to the capabilities. These days the only remnants is the turbine, but we also found a grist stone on display on the grounds. After paying our entry of $9.75 each, we headed into the park. There is a historic film that runs on a loop, which helps show an overview of the site. After looking around at the top of the hill, we made our way down to the water’s edge. Fortunately, the climb back up can be made via a set of ramps.
83 Million Gallons
Blue Spring is one of the largest natural water supplies in the region. Releasing 83 million gallons per day, the water flows into a trout filled lagoon. We spent a few minutes feeding the fish, before moving further down the trail. As we walked, we noticed the wide variety of flowers on display around the landscape. The area is a rough cut out valley, which is probably a result of the running water.
Steady Flow at Blue Spring Heritage Center
Throughout the valley the sound of running water echoes off of the walls. It has a very calming effect, and we found the desire to slow down, and just enjoy the nature. The expanded walkways were added in 1993, and allow for a leisurely visit. As we neared the main spring site, it seemed that the beauty increased. We found signage posted along the way that explains some of the history of the area. The Osage Indians used the area for a trading post for many years. The water from the spring flows into the White River, which made a perfect route for trading.
As I turned to head down another section of the walkway, I spotted a local at the other end. This little guy was enjoying a moment’s rest on the railing. I took a few quick pictures, before he decided to take his relaxation up the nearest tree. I felt a little bad about disturbing him, but we paid our admission, too.
Sad Historical Footnote
The sign above tells a little about the historical significance of Blue Spring, as it relates to the Trail of Tears. Prior to our visit, this piece of history was completely unknown to us. It made us realize that there are still an amazing number of historical sites for us to explore. This knowledge also gave us a new perspective of the importance of Blue Spring.
The Bluff Shelter
We continued our stroll along the opposite side of the lagoon. More flower beds were found, and each were well designed. A ways down the walk we came to a small spillway where the spring water left the lagoon on its way to the White River. We crossed it, and ended up back on the side where we began our visit. A small hill led up to a large overhang area. A few park benches were stationed here, and some of the other guests were enjoying a short break. The signs in this area tell about the indian tribes that had used this spot for ceremonies for thousands of years. It is always humbling to stand in a spot that people have visited for many centuries.
A Gentle Climb
The trail now led away from the Blue Spring, and around the hillside. A long series of ramps allow guests to return to the entrance without traversing the staircases on the other end. This area also has some nice spots for photo opportunities. I waited at the bottom of one ramp, while Crystal made her way up to a gazebo placed on an overlook. After this final photo session, it was time to make our way to the exit. Once again, we found that by listening to a suggestion from a local, we ended up enjoying a “hidden gem” that would have gone overlooked.