To continue our focus on Health and Wellness during the month of September, we are excited to share some great family fall outdoor activities to get you out and moving. Jessie Koller, is a local homeschool mom of two boys and an Ozark adventure blogger. We can’t wait to start incorporating some of her great fall ideas with our families! Enjoy!
As a mom of two boys, I have always put a lot of emphasis on keeping my family physically active, and I certainly feel blessed to live in an area where there is never a lack of options for fun outdoor activities! Every Fall, we sit down and make a fall bucket list of things we’d like to do before Winter arrives such as camping, s’mores, pumpkin carvings, bonfires, and jumping in big piles of leaves. I’d like to share with you some other ways our family stays active:
- “The Greening Hour”: We have always been an outdoor loving family, but a few years ago I started to incorporate what I call, “the greening hour,” into our daily life which is simply a commitment to spending at least an hour outside together each day. I fully believe in the power of nature and both the cognitive and physical benefits of spending time outdoors- whether that’s in our own backyard, hiking, going to a local event, or spending time at one of our local parks. This commitment has definitely benefitted our family and has led to some wonderful explorations of Northwest Arkansas as well!
- Geocaching: In case you’ve never heard of this fun outdoor pastime, Geocaching is a fun and FREE outdoor activity that the whole family can enjoy! It’s basically a real world outdoor treasure hunt in which you use your phone’s GPS to seek and find hidden containers or special locations at specific coordinates all over the world! There are millions hidden around the world and hundreds of Geocaches hidden in Northwest Arkansas. These containers usually contain a log book, and small trinkets such as stickers, toys, geo coins, etc. My boys have so much fun finding these and it’s a great outdoor activity to encourage teamwork as a family! Visit www.geocaching.com to learn more and start treasure hunting!
- Cobblestone Farm in Fayetteville: Cobblestone Farm is a Cobblestone Project Initiative that focuses on hunger relief in NWA. This farm is largely driven by
community volunteers and the food they grow there is distributed to local shelters, soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, etc. You can spend your time there as a volunteer farmer with many different opportunities to help around the farm. Fall is an especially fun time to volunteer at the farm because it’s harvest time! We started volunteering at Cobblestone last year as I was seeking an outdoor volunteer activity that the whole family would love. It quickly became a place near and dear to our hearts. To learn more about Cobblestone Farm and how you and your family can become volunteers, visit www.cobblestoneproject.org.
- SWEPCO Eagle Watch Nature Trail in Gentry: Most people in NWA will associate Gentry with it’s most popular attraction, the Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari Zoo, and while we certainly love it there it’s also home to one of our favorite kid and stroller friendly trails- the Eagle Watch Nature Trail. This trail will take you on a leisurely, but very pretty stroll leading to an observation deck overlooking SWEPCO Lake. The trail has a great little climbing tree, and in the Fall the trail is littered with Osage Oranges, or “horseapples,” which my kids always love to find (and we usually end up taking home a few-or dozen!), but it’s most notable feature is the reason behind it’s name-it is a very popular Fall and Winter destination spot for Bald Eagles! There are picnic tables at the observation deck, so you could bring some sack lunches and binoculars and spend some time looking for Eagles. If you don’t see an Eagle, there are plenty of water fowl, and other wildlife to spot at the lake and along the trail. For more information and directions to the trail, visit http://www.adventuresintheozarks.com/2013/07/swepco-eagle-watch-nature-trail-in.html
- Fish Hatchery: The Ozarks are home to a few really great fish hatcheries which we have always found to be great outdoor family fun with little to no expense! Apart from the fun of watching and feeding the trout, most hatcheries have an indoor nature exhibit as well. The Charlie Craig Fish Hatchery located in Centerton contains 16 large ponds on their vast 116 acres which you can drive through or walk around to see at your leisure. The hatchery’s gates are open to the public 7 days a week from daylight to dusk. It’s a beautiful place and you’re sure to see lots of wildlife! Visiting in the Fall can be especially fun because the hatchery is a temporary home to many migratory birds! Another wonderful hatchery is located at Roaring River State Park in Cassville Missouri, just about an hour north of Bentonville. Also free of charge, the expansive outdoor facility is stocked full of trout which you can walk around to view in cement troughs. Bring some quarters for feed for even more fun! At Roaring River you can also visit the nature center, hike one of the many trails, and in the Fall it is a very likely place to spot a Bald Eagle. In fact, every time we have visited Roaring River in the Fall and Winter months, we have seen Eagles!
Thanks, Jessie, for sharing! For more ideas for fun family adventures around NWA and the Ozarks, visit Jessie’s blog at www.adventuresintheozarks.com!