Ponca, Arkansas is an artists’ and photographer’s dream destination!

Ponca, Arkansas is one of the most visited nature destinations in northwest Arkansas. And guess what? It’s right around the corner from Hare’s Hideout. Many people come to hike the local trails or to put in kayaks and canoes at the Buffalo River. During summer, the low-water bridge is a popular swimming hole. A lot of people go there to capture beautiful photographs. I go there to paint.

Photos from Ponca

One of my friends, Terry Stanfill, makes regular trips from his home in far northwest Arkansas to Boxley Valley and Ponca. Here’s a few of his photos.

At the Ponca low-water bridge.
From the Ponca low-water bridge. This is the same scene, and much better photo, than mine from down on the gravel at a slightly different angle in the photo a few paragraphs below.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.
Old structure in Boxley Valley on the way to Ponca.
Old structure in Boxley Valley on the way to Ponca.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron on the rocks at Ponca.
A juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron on the rocks at Ponca.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.

If you’re on Instagram, you can follow the hashtag #poncaarkansas to see a lot more images of this local little hot spot for nature. while you’re there, follow @hareshideout, too! If you’re a photographer and you’d like to share one of your photos from Ponca on this page, email it to me and I’ll get it posted.

Plein air painting

I’m just beginning to learn the art of plein air painting and there’s nowhere better to set up an easel. Last week I went down to the low-water bridge at the Ponca access point. Since it was on a week day, it wasn’t crowded. In fact, I was the only one there. I started working on a watercolor of this scene. I didn’t get very far on it before I had to pack up and leave, but I’ll go back next week to finish up, or I’ll just finish using the photograph I took before I left.

A plein air painting in progress, waiting to go back on location at Ponca, Arkansas.
An unfinished painting I started on location at the Ponca low-water bridge. My paints are made from Ozark pigments and the water I used in this one is straight from the Buffalo river at my feet. It’s hard to beat this setting when it comes to nature art!
(Pssst! I do pigment foraging field trips over at Hare’s Hideout. Email me if you’re interested in that.)
Photograph © 2019 Madison Woods. Used by permission.

How to get there

Ponca is on Hwy 43 between Boxley Valley and Compton. If you’re coming north from I-40, exit north on Hwy 21. Take a right on Hwy. 43 when you get to Boxley Valley. If you’re heading south on Hwy. 21 from Hwy. 412, go south through Kingston and pass the Hare’s Hideout entrance to go on down the hill into the river valley. Take a left on Hwy. 43.

The quaint little town of Kingston, Arkansas is not far from Ponca.
The quaint little town of Kingston, Arkansas is not far from Ponca.
Photograph © 2019 Terry Stanfill. Used by permission.

You can also get here from Harrison if you take Hwy. 43 west out of Harrison. If you reach Hwy. 21, you went too far.

Here’s a map embed from Google. That’ll make it a lot easier.

Campground near Ponca

If you want to stay around for a little while, consider camping at Hare’s Hideout! We’re just back up Hwy. 21 going north toward Kingston. Literally, just around the corner. Of course, a block corner out here in the Ozarks might be a bit different than your usual city block. It’s all relative! But seriously. We’re only a few miles away.

Hare's Hideout campground is right around the corner from Ponca, Arkansas.

About the Author
Madison Woods is a local artist who makes her watercolor paints from the Ozark rocks.

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