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Majestic limestone bluffs, hidden natural caves, and beautiful crystal clear water combine to make Beaver Lake an outdoor enthusiast's playground. Add a rich history and exceptional fishing, and there is sure to be something to please everyone. Unsurpassed natural beauty makes Beaver Lake a popular Ozark Mountain destination.
Built on the Upper White River, Beaver Dam created Beaver Lake. Construction of the Dam, authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944, was started in 1960 and finished in 1964, with Beaver Lake reaching full pool two years later. The lake was created for flood control, hydroelectric power, recreation and water supply. Today, the lake supplies water to more than 300,000 people in five counties. In fact, the lake supplies more drinking water than any of the other lakes in the Little Rock District. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, who manages the dam and lake, its primary purposes are power generation and flood control.
Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart store in nearby Rogers, but Mr. Walton wasn't the first business pioneer to start in the Beaver Lake area. After the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, many ambitious pioneers journeyed to Arkansas' Ozark Mountains. Peter VanWinkle was the fourth son of Dutch immigrants whose family moved west seeking new opportunities. Mr. VanWinkle found exceptional timber in the area that was to become Beaver Lake, and by 1840 he was known as the "lumber king." He built VanWinkle's Mill and a plantation style house where he lived with his family of eight children. Mr. VanWinkle was an avid Confederate supporter and when the direction of the war turned against the Confederacy, he fled with his family to Texas. His mill and house burned to the ground, but after the war, he moved back and rebuilt. The University of Arkansas is conducting archeological digs at the site and has uncovered the slave quarters, graveyard, blacksmith forge, mill and house. Visitors to Hobs State Management Area can see remnants of the mill and garden from the Historic VanWinkle Trail.
Jointly managed by Arkansas State Parks, the Natural Heritage Commission, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Hobbs State Management Area is the largest state park area in Arkansas. The park encompasses twenty-two miles of Beaver Lake's shoreline and provides undeveloped access to the lake. It includes a public firing range and is the only Arkansas state park that allows seasonal hunting. There is primitive camping and hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding on the Hidden Diversity Multi-use Trail. Visitors can learn about the lake and its history at the new visitors' center.
The US Army Corps of Engineers manages and maintains several parks, trails, and campgrounds around Beaver Lake. Visitors to the lake can explore limestone bluff shelters from Corps-maintained trails including the largest bluff shelter at Beaver Lake on the Dogwood Trail. The shelters were used by the Native Americans who were the region's first residents. There are plenty of Corps-maintained hiking trails where visitors can hike past wildflowers in the spring and colored leaves in the fall.
The shoreline at Beaver Lake is surrounded by high limestone cliffs, bluffs, and dotted with caves. Most caves are too small or unsafe to visit, but there is some spelunking for the adventurous. War Eagle Caverns has a natural entrance on the shores of Beaver Lake and is home to over 75,000 bats, including eastern pipestrelle and gray bats. The cavern has been opened to the public since 1978.
Beaver Lake's crystal clear water calls boaters, anglers, and scuba divers from all over. There are conveniently located marinas catering to boaters and water skiers. Anglers will love the challenge of catching large and small mouth bass and stripers, as well as channel and spoonbill catfish. Below the dam there is exceptional trout fishing on the White River. Every year millions of fingerling game fish are released from the Blackburn Creek Nursery Pond into the lake by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Anglers can fish the lake from a boat, underwater with a spear and scuba gear, or downstream with a trout fly, making Beaver Lake an angler's paradise.
When boat guides take visitors out on the lake, they often take two bottles along - one empty and one full of purified water. Visitors are amazed when the guides fill the empty bottle with lake water and hold it beside the purified water. Because the lake is also spring fed, its water is crystal clear making it a haven for scuba divers. Divers can explore the normal sunken debris, looking for fish in old boats, cars and trees, but residents of Beaver Lake have also placed sculptures for divers to find and explore. In the fall there is an underwater pumpkin carving contest. Divers carve their pumpkins underwater and then bring them to the surface for judging.
Remains of the underwater Monte Ne resort are hard to see because of their proximity to the river. Built in the 1800's, Monte Ne was a world class resort area including two of the biggest hotels of the time. Wealthy guests rode gondolas imported from Venice through the streams to the hotels. When the lake was filled, the abandoned resort was flooded. When lake levels are low, visitors can see the resort foundations, large gondola bridges, and most spectacularly, the resort's amphitheatre.
With its natural beauty, rich diverse history, and crystal clear water, Beaver Lake is sure to beckon to outdoor enthusiasts, adventurers, and explorers alike. Guest can camp, stay in a rustic cabin or a modern motel. Everyone will find something that fits them at Beaver Lake.
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