While the Steel Creek Campground near Jasper, Arkansas is not technically in the Midwest, it IS in the Ozarks, a mountainous region sprawling across Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, and one of the most beautiful natural areas anywhere.
On our road trip down to the 2017 Outdoor Blogger Summit, Missouri Howell and I stopped in the Buffalo National River area for a night of camping and some hiking on a few of the beautiful trails found nearby.
Established as America’s First National River in 1972, the Buffalo National River flows freely (one of one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48!) for 135 miles. The National Park Service maintains numerous campgrounds throughout the Buffalo National River park, some more primitive than others.
This tent-camping campground (no RVs allowed) has 26 campsites and an adjoining horse campground has 14 sites. The campground is open year round, though the restroom and water system are closed for the winter, from mid-November to mid-March. There is a vault toilet in the campground that remains open.
Amenities for the $12 per night (max 6 people per site) include seasonal flush toilets and drinking water, fire grates, and picnic tables. No fees are charged during winter when water systems are shutdown, a great bonus for those of us who like to get out there when it’s cold. As far as I can tell, Steel Creek Campground Reservations are not available.
The campground is a large grassy meadow that follows the contour of the nearby river. Not much privacy, as trees are only dense between the campground and the river itself, with tents being set up in the open. Definitely not my cup of tea in that respect.
Jeff and I cowboy camped in Site 4, which is below the grade of the other campsites, so late arriving cars shone their lights above us and not into our campsite. We were also the closest site to the river that I could see, which was an additional bonus.
How to get there:
I personally would not want to visit this campground during the busy season (too open and too crowded), but it is great location-wise to explore the surrounding area.