Safer at Home – Colorado

when is rocky mountain national park going to reopen?

We are itching to get out to the serenity of the Rocky Mountains, but it looks like the Rocky Mountain National Park won’t be open for another month (at least). I’ve been reading through the Safer at Home guidelines that the Governor of Colorado put out earlier this week. The Executive Order restricts Colorado citizens to recreational travel that is no more than 10 miles from their places of residence.

Safer at Home orders will continue for 30 days from April 27, 2020 with the possibility of extension. For out-of-state travelers like us, it just not a good time to visit Colorado. You can learn more at www.colorado.com.

#thinkingofRMNP

In the meantime, Rocky Mountain National Park is featuring pictures on instagram that visitors have taken during previous trips. Tag your photos with #thinkingofRMNP for a chance to be featured by RMNP.

our favorite photos

We recently put together a slideshow on our home page with some of our favorite photos from Rocky Mountain National Park and Northwest Arkansas. I’ll also post some of our Colorado highlights right here. I’m not going to lie, going through all these photos and remembering the happy (normal) times, makes me a bit teary. Uncertainty is tough, but it’s comforting to know that the mountains aren’t going anywhere. I hope you all stay safe and healthy wherever home is to you!

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Online Plant Sale

This week I’m nerding out about plants, specifically the upcoming plant sale at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

Butterfly at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

In 2020 our family purchased our first membership to the Botanical Garden which is located in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Typically, the garden is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm.

The Children’s Garden at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is a magical place

The gardens are currently closed, but the plant sale will still go on. This year it is online. Members can start shopping the morning of April 27 to April 29. Starting April 30 through May 8, the sale is open to the general public.

The names and prices for all the plants are listed here. I’m a plant enthusiast newbie. To be honest, I have no idea what most of these plants look like or what care they need. So, I created a (really cool) word document listing out all the plants and if they like sun, if they are lethal for my dog to eat, etc. Based on all my research, I came up with my wish-list.

Shopping Wish List: Botanical Garden of the Ozarks Plant Sale

>Hardy Geranium ($7) – I like that this flowering plant will (hopefully) come back each year.
>Smooth Hydrangea ($10) – There is a spot under my bedroom window that is pretty shaded, I’m hoping hydrangeas will grow well there.
>Lavender ($6) – I love the smell of lavender and I’m hoping I can grow it in a well-drained pot, or in my front yard which gets a lot of sun.
>Basil Genovese ($6) – There are several types of basil for sale, but I think this will be great for making homemade pesto.
>Common Rosemary ($6) – I like to add rosemary to chicken and pork dishes. We’ve tried to grow rosemary in pots from seeds and they haven’t done well, so I’m hoping a nice starter plant will get us on our way to growing this fresh herb at home.

The annual plant sale has sponsors, so we want to support them too! The sponsor on the top of my list is way awesome for my current preschool home school. My girls will love a Venus flytrap from Fayetteville Flytraps. Let’s be honest, I will love a flytrap too.

safety first – how to pick up your plants

Reading through the plant sale logistics, it looks like a lot of thought has gone into how to order and pick-up the plants in ways that will keep everyone safe and healthy, so I will link all of that information here.

It’s a bummer we haven’t been able to enjoy the Botanical Garden during the spring months, but I’m looking forward to this online shopping event.

Spring blooms at the Botanical Garden (2019)

I wrote more about the gardens last year in, Falling for Fayetteville – The 12 Best Things From Our First Year in Northwest Arkansas.

Hiking Arkansas: Alum Cove Trail

Alum Cove trail is a one mile loop that features a 130 foot natural bridge, a cave, shelter bluffs, stream, and a seasonal waterfall.

We took a picture of the trailhead map and signage to help us find our way.

how to get to alum cove

This recreation area is managed by the National Forest Service. From Jasper, Arkansas take highway 7 south for 15 miles, then turn right (west) on Arkansas 16 and go 1 mile. Turn right (northwest) on Forest Service Road 1206 and go 3 miles. (online brochure).

Tip: The scenic road is curvy, so plan ahead for any family members who are prone to car sickness.

open durnig covid-19

There are a lot of trails and recreation areas that are closed in Arkansas to cut down on the spread of COVID-19. As I’m writing today (April 22, 2020), Alum Cove remains open for hiking. Some amenities are probably not open such as restroom facilities. A good place to get updated information is the US Forest Service’s facebook page.

Alum Cove Recreation Area
Alum Cove Recreation Area has shaded picnic areas.
The woods in Arkansas are beautiful this spring.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
Walking over the natural bridge. There is a fence, but since there is a big drop off it’s a good place to hold on to little one’s hands.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
Views over the side of the bridge.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
A trail leads underneath the bridge.
alum cove natural bridge
Water trickling down the rock walls.
Alum Cove Natural Bridge
Rocky overhang of Alum Cove Natural Bridge.
Alum Cove Recreational Area. Arkansas National Forest
We passed over a small stream (after we splashed in it a little).
Alum Cove. Arkansas National Forest Service
Tip: Pack fun snacks to encourage kids to walk on their own (especially uphill). Our 5-year-old can hike on her own, while our 3-year-old is still wanting to be carried a lot. There was a bench right after this uphill portion of the trail.
Cave Arkansas. Alum Cove.
Soon, we found a cave.
Cave on loop trail. Alum Cove.
Caves = childhood wonder + imagination explosion
Seasonal waterfall. Alum Cove.
Past the cave, there is a seasonal waterfall.
Cave and shelter bluffs at Alum Cove. Colorado. National Forest Area.
We had fun exploring the caves and shelter bluffs. We had so much fun exploring, that we got turned around and walked down a side trail. Oops!
Alum Cove.
Once we made our way back to the main trail, we noticed that we should have started down this steep rock staircase.
Alum Cove.
and back up to the natural bridge.
Alum Cove.
Blue skies above us.

We hiked this on our 8th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon as a family.

Kid-approved? Yes. Our girls have been lucky to go on a lot of trails in Colorado and Arkansas, and they said this one was one of their all time favorite hikes.

Hiking Arkansas: Kings River Falls

Pavement Ends, Road to Kings River Falls in Arkansas

Finding Kings River Falls

This hike is a little hard to find. When the paved road ends you might think you made a wrong turn, so I wanted to share the directions provided on the Arkansas National Heritage Commission’s website to help you find Kings River Falls. This natural area is worth the dirt road drive.

From the community of Boston on State Highway 16 (between Fallsville and St. Paul), go north on County Road 3175 (dirt) for 2.1 miles; bear right as the road forks onto County Road 3415. Stay on this road for 2.3 miles until you come to a “T” intersection with County Road 3500. Turn left, and go across the creek and park at natural area sign.

Flattening the Curve. Social Distance Hiking.

flattening the curve

We hiked this trail on April 10, 2020. The trail was open, however signage was put up to remind hikers to practice social distancing. We saw a handful of hikers, but everyone was respectful and we felt safe. Some of Arkansas’ most popular hiking trails that were open to the public a couple of weeks ago are closed now because they were getting too crowded. I’d recommend researching potential closures before heading out.

butterfly on Kings River Falls trail

The trail starts out by following along Mitchell Creek. We enjoyed spotting a variety of wildflowers and butterflies.

Wildflowers on Kings River Falls Trail

Soon we crossed over a small metal bridge. The trail begins to follow along side the Kings River.

We stopped several times to admire butterflies and skip rocks on the river.

A cascade flows into the river right before the falls. The distance to Kings River Falls is only a mile. Once we arrived, we found a great spot to enjoy a snack and take in the views. We returned the same way we came, making this a 2 mile round trip adventure.

Our pre-coronavirus plans were to go to Florida over the Easter holiday. A sunny beach vacation would have been nice. However, this family hike was everything my heart needed. We are truly blessed by the natural beauty right here in our home state.