Take Highway 74 a mile east of Ponca to the top of the mountain, Steel Creek gate is on the left. Can't miss it.
36.03032, -93.3418

Printable Map
Fees for camping, see camping section.
Water and two toilets at opposite ends of the campground.
Nearest Gasoline:
Ponca at BOC & Lost Valley Store
Photo Gallery: Activities:
Hiking, camping, photography, horseback riding. See map below.
Special Issues:
Due to the rugged trails, hikers should not hike alone. Trails may be used by both horses and hikers. On the Old River Trail there are frequent river crossings, plan accordingly.
Seasonal Opportunities:
Outstanding spring and fall wildlife watching, hiking and photography. Roark Bluff is one of the most photographed sites in Arkanasas.
Emergency Numbers:
National Park Service  (870) 365-2700
Newton County Sheriff  (870) 446-5124
Relevant Offsite Links:  In-depth information on elk watching in Boxley Valley and the upper river area. Visitor guides, frequent updates, information.

Buffalo National River
Upper River Area

Steel Creek Campground

Steel Creek Campground

It is no wonder that Steel Creek Campground is such a popular destination. It is home to scenic Roark Bluff, and popular access points for the Buffalo River Trail and the Old River Trail.

It is one of the most popular campgrounds in the Upper Buffalo River area, perhaps the most.  It features horse and tent camping separated by distance and a bluff. It is probably the most popular campground for horsemen in the BNR.

Hikers love the section of the Buffalo River Trail between Steel Creek and the Ponca Access.
Roark Bluff in Fall Mist
Buffalo River at Steel Creek's Roark Bluff

Itinerary Builder -- Attractions Close to Steel Creek Campground

Smith Creek Preserve

   Directions    Web
GPS:  35.93548, -93.38612  ( 9.3 miles,  14 minutes
Nature Conservency, hiking trail 500 ft. descent in 1 mile. Two track road, hiking trail, very scenic spring fed creek with outstanding spring wildflower show. Popular with photographers.  Remote, don't hike alone.

Boxley Valley Elk Herd

  (Highway 43 & 21)    Directions    Web
GPS:  35.97717, -93.40219  ( 5.8 miles, 9 mins)

Home of Arkansas' famous elk herd, arguably the most viewable in the southern US. Mornings and evenings, fall rut exceptional.

Hawksbill Crag

GPS:  35.88816, -93.4698  ( 14.2 miles,  39 mins)

Popular 3 mile round trip with 200 ft elevation change. Most photographed Arkansas Landmark. Trail can be rough, a few seasonal creeks. Hazardous around bluff edges, children need to be watched closely. Bear sightings now and then.

Glory Hole

GPS:  35.82595, -93.39737 (19.6 miles, 26 mins)

This is a popular short hike of moderate difficulty. The Glory Hole is a waterfall through the top of a cave. It is a popular destination with hikers and most serious outdoor photographers.  Fairly remote, probably best not hiked alone. NFS

Boxley Valley Mill Pond

GPS: 35.98829, -93.40081    ( 5 miles, 7 mins)
The historic spring fed Boxley Valley Mill Pond is home to a population of trumpeter swans, many different waterbirds, bald eagles in season, as well as beaver, mink, otters and the occaional raccoon. Popular with photographers and wildlife watchers. Very near the best elk viewing areas.

Ponca Elk Education Center

(in Ponca)   Directions
GPS:  36.02215, -93.36141  (1.7 miles, 3 mins
AGFC elk education center, nationally recognized facility.
Open daily 10 - 4:30 PM, Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
(870) 861-2432
Photographers comb the bluffs and surrounding trails for seasonal cascades and other photo opportunities. Now and then an elk herd wanders through Steel Creek, generally in the fall. Fall color generally peaks around the 3rd week in October, but it can vary from year to year.
Ponca Wilderness Map & Hiking Trails PDF

Centerpoint Trailhead

GPS:  36.06368, -93.36017    (5.3 miles, 9 mins)

This trailhead is popular with hikers and horsemen. It is one of two ways to famous Hemmed In Hollow, the dangerous Goat Trail, Sneeds Creek Trail, and Granny Henderson's cabin. Big elevation changes, not for out of shape hikers. 1,000 ft descent. For most, this is an all day hike requiring frequent rest stops.

Compton Trailhead

GPS:  36.0817, -93.30536     (11 miles, 19 mins)

Another trailhead down to Hemmed In Hollow, Granny Hendersons, and Sneeds Creek. Very tough hike, over 1,000 ft. descent on switchback trails. Plan to take all day for this one. Don't go alone, and don't go if you are not reasonably fit. Popular with hikers and horsemen. HIH easier hike from parked canoe.

Schermerhorn Trailhead

GPS: 36.07326, -93.26404       (13.4 miles, 29 mins)

This is a popular trail round trip is around 2 miles. The trail leads to a falls and old bluff shelter. The bluffline is quite scenic with large boulders and pines. Many side trails to explore as well. Watch out for slippery rocks. The road to the trailhead can be hazardous in wet weather. The road past the trailhead into the park is 4WD only, and not maintained.