Eclipse Trip Leg 10–Branson to Little Rock

On this leg of the trip, we traveled southeast from Branson to Little Rock. The drive was relatively uneventful, so we’ll just jump right in to the fun stuff! In Little Rock, we went to another zoo, discovered a terrific kid-friendly trail, and explored a new park.

Where We Stayed

There’s nothing fancy about Little Rock North KOA, but it served its purpose for us. We needed a comfy place to come back to after a day of adventures. The dog park is small and sad, but the rest of the park is fine.

We didn’t have time the opportunity to try the pool, but it looked nice. We saw someone cleaning it every morning, and the temperature seemed reasonable.

Sadly, we forgot to get a picture of the site. We were in a pull-thru right in front of the office. It was surprisingly spacious for a pull-thru site.

Campground NameLittle Rock North KOA Journey
LocationNorth Little Rock, AR
DatesApril 17-19, 2024
Site NumberSite 24
Site SurfacePaved
Hook-upsFull hookups + 50-amp electric
Cost$65 per night (including taxes and fees)
Water Pressure30-40 psi
Voltage~120-125 V
AT&T Speed Test
20 Mbps up; 6 Mbps down
Verizon Speed Test50 Mbps up; 16 Mbps down
T-Mobile Speed Test200 Mbps up; 10 Mbps down
Campground WiFiOops, we forgot!

What We Did

Two Rivers Park

Two Rivers Park is just on the other side of the Arkansas River from the campground. It takes less than 10 minutes to drive to the parking lot by the Two Rivers Park pedestrian bridge.

From the bridge, you could see the birds that built their nests underneath it. They certainly make it difficult to get a good photo of them. I wish I knew what they were.

The park is huge and would have been a great place to explore, but it was a little hot for the dogs when we were there, so we didn’t stay long. I would love to come again and see more of the trails if we’re in the area again.

We found this handsome snake (and a turtle)!

Big Dam Bridge

Once again, we have impeccable timing. Our visit to the Big Dam Bridge brought flashbacks of visiting the Fort Worth Water Gardens the weekend they were drained for cleaning. The Big Dam Bridge was closed for inspections the week we were there, so we weren’t able to walk across it.

However, there are walking paths all around though, so we still did a little exploring. You can even walk over the dam and get up close to the power plant. We parked at Cook’s Landing Park. They have this impressive bit of signage about the Arkansas River Trail (which includes the bridge section that was closed).

Did you know there are pelicans in Arkansas? I didn’t! So I was shocked to see a group of them hanging out in the water by the dam.

I was able to get a much better look at the nests that are tucked up under the bridge. The birds themselves are just too fast for me to get any kind of close-up photo.

We also saw this goose family.

Great kid-friendly (and dog-friendly) trail

Before you get to the Big Dam Bridge, there’s a small parking area on the left that fits maybe six cars. Right next to that parking area, there’s a trail. I highly recommend trying this trail if you have kids. Bring the bikes, scooters, rollerblades, etc. and pack a picnic lunch! It seems like a great way to burn a little of their energy.

The trail is paved and pretty flat. After about a mile, it meets another trail at the Arkansas River. There’s a covered shelter with a few picnic tables.

The banks of the river are sandy here, so there’s a small beach. It looked like the river got deep pretty quickly, so I wouldn’t recommend the kids go swimming. Our dogs don’t like to actually swim, but there was enough space for them to walk along the edges of the river and get their paws wet, and the further up we walked, the better it got.

We found several new-to-us plants along this trail. These wildflowers (weeds?) are very pretty, but these green stalks were definitely the most interesting! They seemed to grow only where it was pretty wet. If anyone can tell me what they’re called, I’d love to know!

Since this trail is so close to the Big Dam Bridge, I put together a map to show the trail, where we parked, etc.

The white oval at the very top is a parking lot. The smaller oval below it is where we parked for this trail, and the long, white line is the trail. Below that, the longest oval is the parking lot for the Big Dam Bridge. The white square is where the bridge was closed off. Instead of crossing over the water from there, we walked up and across to the write triangle, which is the hydro plant.

Little Rock Zoo

Little Rock’s population is a little more than 200,000. Kansas City’s is more than 500,000. Knowing this, the differences between the Little Rock Zoo and the Kansas City Zoo make a lot more sense. A smaller zoo for a smaller city, and I’m sure the budget reflects that.

We got to the zoo right at opening, as did lots of school groups. However, when we got in, we started in the direction of the maned wolves (opposite to the way most others went). It was nice and quiet when we got to the maned wolf exhibit, and he was up and walking around. We went back later in the day since we were nearby, and he was tucked back where he was very hard to see. I attribute this to the amount of noisy school groups that were nearby at the time, but I could be wrong.

Overall, the enclosures were small. Several animals were exhibiting repetitive behaviors like pacing. In particular, the grey fox and the fossa broke my heart.

However, they are trying. Several of the animals have access to more than one enclosure. For example, this enclosure has a walkway over the sidewalk to allow access to additional space.

They have signs up about planned renovations to their sloth bear exhibits.

We caught some of the animals in the act of some some adorable behaviors…

like these chacoan peccaries snuggling…

and this spotted-necked otter napping.

This was the coolest naked mole rat exhibit I’ve seen.

I also appreciated how they helped guests visualize the change in the cheetah population.

Last, but certainly not least, can we take a moment to appreciate how unexpected the giant anteater is? The more I see them, the more I like them.

Happy travels!

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