The Mammoth Spring State Park, located in Fulton County, Arkansas, spans more than sixty acres of the Ozarks. It contains the state’s largest natural spring – the main attraction that drew settlers and tourists to the area as far back as the late 1800s.
Trails and Sights
The Spring Lake Trail at Mammoth Spring State Park offers breathtaking scenery and access to several park attractions. The trail is approximately one-half mile. It is a loop trail that can be accessed from many of the park facilities. It is handicap-accessible.
Naturally, the trail winds its way to Mammoth Spring, which is the park’s main attraction. Mammoth Spring is not only Arkansas’ largest spring; it is also a National Natural Landmark. The water flows through the spring at the rate of nine million gallons per hour, providing the clean, cold water for the nearby Spring River.
The Spring Lake Trail also takes visitors to the fully restored nineteenth century train depot. The Saint Louis-San Francisco rail line, completed in 1883, connected the area to the outside world. Commerce, tourism, and industry flourished with the line’s completion. Walking into the restored train depot in Mammoth Spring State Park is like taking a step back in time. A restored Frisco caboose and other historical objects contribute to the ambience of the area. Life-sized statues of travelers, station employees, and the train crew enhance the history of the station.
A portion of Spring Lake Trail forms a walkway across the dam. First constructed in 1887 by the Mammoth Spring Improvement Company to provide power for the town’s gristmill, the dam quickly became an attraction in and of itself. The dam became the property of the Arkansas-Missouri Power Company, in 1925. As part of the Rural Electrification Act, the power company built a hydroelectric plant at the dam to provide electricity to the homes and businesses around the area. The hydroelectric station is no longer in service, but it is open to visitors. Educational exhibits inside the station explain its construction and the impact its creation had on the community. One can also see the remnants of the gristmill that started the whole electrification project.
Fishing and Boating
The water flowing from Mammoth Spring keeps Spring River at a constant temperature of fifty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. Spring River boasts the best rainbow trout fishing in Arkansas in its upper reaches, with large populations of walleye and bass in its lower reaches. The Federal Fish Hatchery, adjacent to the park, was one of the nation’s first hatcheries. The only captive spawning population of Gulf Coast striped bass in the world calls this hatchery home.
Because of the constant flow of water from Mammoth Spring, Spring River is one of the best float rivers in the state. The spring provides a constant slow current, perfect for a lazy afternoon float down the river. With its natural white water shoals and falls, Spring River provides a challenge to canoers of all ages and levels of experience. Canoes, paddleboats, and floats are available for rental.
Mammoth Spring State Park offers a lovely picnic area, which overlooks Spring Lake. A covered pavilion provides a lovely area for family reunions, wedding receptions, company picnics, and other special occasions. Grand, old oak trees form a canopy of shade over the picnic area. The recreation area houses entertainment for children of all ages. The playground delights the hearts and minds of young children. The baseball diamond provides an excellent opportunity for older children to burn off excess energy after a family meal.
Mammoth Spring State Park is located along US Route 63 in Mammoth Spring. Park hours are eight in the morning until dusk. No camping or overnight facilities are available. The Visitor’s Center is open year-round, providing additional information regarding the park’s attractions, park maps, brochures, and information regarding area attractions. While the picnic area is available all year, the rest room facilities are only open from April through November.
For additional information regarding Mammoth Spring State Park, please visit the park’s website at http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/mammothspring/.