Renting a Boat on Beaver Lake in Arkansas

When is the last time you smiled so much your face hurt? For me it was Father’s Day weekend when we got to explore one of the beautiful natural attractions in Northwest Arkansas – Beaver Lake.

Our girls woke my husband and me up at sunrise, bounding into our bedroom already dressed in their swimsuits. They excitedly helped us pack a cooler of snacks and drinks. We stuffed another bag full with beach towels and sunscreen.

They had been counting down the days ever since we announced our plan to rent a boat. We made an online reservation at Lost Bridge Marina in Garfield, Arkansas for a 19 foot ski boat which was the perfect size for our family of four (full capacity is six people).

The rental came with life jackets for our family.

Besides ski boats, Lost Bridge Marina also rents a variety of pontoons and fishing boats. We added a tube to our rental for an extra $10 per hour.

You can rent boats for a half day or full day. A half day (four hours) was the perfect amount of time for our three and five-year-old daughters to enjoy boating, tubing, snacking, and swimming.

Once you are on the boat, being out on the lake is a great activity during this crazy time when we are all dealing with COVID-19 concerns. At the marina social distancing can be a bit harder, but I thought the marina staff did a great job at balancing good customer service and safety. You can check their website for availability and more information. Reservations fill up quickly.

Another marina on Beaver Lake that offers boat rentals is Starkey Marina in Eureka Springs. Starkey’s rental fleet includes pontoons and tritoons. Prairie Creek Marina in Rogers, Arkansas also rents pontoons and deck boats. Float Eureka isn’t a marina, but they rent stand up paddle boards, kayaks, and canoes.

Even though the grey clouds above warned of rain, we were lucky that the storms held off. The water in Beaver Lake is incredibly clear. My husband was amazed at how far down into the water he could see the anchor when he was dropping it in the cove where we swam. The temperature was also pleasant. This was our first excursion to Beaver Lake. We can’t wait to return!

We found several beautiful coves to swim in. I love this pink boat that was parked in a peaceful spot.

Blueberry Picking – Outdoor Summer Fun in Northwest Arkansas

Last week our neighbor invited us out to pick blueberries at a local blueberry farm. We’ve picked strawberries and apples in the past, but this was our first time picking this super fruit. We headed to Bearing Fruit Farms which was easy to find right off of Highway 45, just east of Fayetteville.

A full bucket of berries is $20 U-Pick. My daughters and I picked a quarter of a bucket, so the total price was only $5.

The owner explained that the different varieties of blueberries they grow vary in taste, size, and growing season. The last to ripen will be available through mid-July. Check their facebook page for hours and picking times.

We’ve been enjoying our berries for days. I found a healthy blueberry muffins recipe here. The girls had fun making the muffins and liked eating them even more!

If you are on the look out for fun summer activities in Northwest Arkansas, I definitely recommend blueberry picking. I think this will become an annual tradition at our house.

Where Should I Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Rocky mountain national park timed entry permit

Planning a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this summer? You need to make a reservation. The reservation will give you a two hour window to enter the park. The new system is designed to cut down on traffic and allow guests to practice social distancing. You can make a reservation on recreation.gov. There is a $2 online reservation fee in addition to the cost of park pass.

Keep in mind that the lines at the park entrances may be long, so for example if your timed entry is between 8:00 am and 10:00 am, I would avoid arriving last minute at 9:45 am. Also remember to print your pass and have it with you.

hiking near estes park, colorado

Visitors to Estes Park who do not have a reservation to Rocky Mountain National Park have several great trail options outside the park boundaries. If you don’t mind paying a fee, we recently hiked Kruger Rock in Hermit Park. The views are amazing!

Free adventures near Estes Park include walking or biking around the Lake Estes loop, climbing Lily Mountain, or hiking the Homer Rouse trail.

hike in Hermit Park to Kruger Rock near Estes Park, Colorado

favorite hikes in Rocky mountain national park

Sometimes we spend hours debating which hike we should do during our limited time in Rocky Mountain National Park. The reality is, you can’t go wrong. To help make the decision a little easier, I put together a chart (see above) to narrow down the hikes that are best for you based on the number of miles you want to hike, the popularity of the trail, and type of destination such as lake, waterfall or summit.

Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

You will find details about these destinations (and more!) in the following pages:

Best Rocky Mountain Hikes Under 2 Miles

Favorite 2-4 Mile Hikes

Favorite Rocky Mountain Hikes for Families: Beyond 4 Miles

Sky Pond, Twin Sisters, and Flattop Mountain are some of my favorite hikes in the park, so I included them in my decision chart. I don’t classify these destinations as ‘family hikes’ because they are more strenuous. I recommend them to people looking for a fun challenge.

On the way to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park

Articles we’ve written about these destinations:

Sky Pond

Twin Sisters

Flattop Mountain

My list is just the beginning. There are countless adventures in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. I relate to the following quote by Abner Sprague, owner of Sprague Lake Lodge from 1910-1940.

‘If he (the guest) fails to see every nook and corner of the place on one visit, he comes year after year…. Our guests never get tired, the same old urge to visit spots seen more than once brings them back on their next vacation. They go home rested.”

Abner Sprague
Moose at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountains
Sprague Lake

Rocky Mountain National Park – Spotting Wildlife at Sheep Lakes

One of the highlights of our trips to Rocky Mountain National Park is spotting wildlife. During our most recent visit, we were lucky to see both bighorn sheep and moose at Sheep Lakes which is located in Horseshoe Park.

sheep lakes

According to the national park’s website, Rocky Mountain National Park is home to approximately 350 bighorn sheep. Sheep Lakes is a great place to see bighorn sheep from May through the middle of August. There is a parking lot where you can safely pull off the road to view the animals who frequent the area. This is not a hiking destination, visitors are required to give the animals plenty of space to make sure both animals and humans stay safe. Many times park rangers will be stationed at the parking lot to direct traffic and answer visitor questions.

The park has a ‘Bighorn Crossing Zone’ in Horseshoe Park during spring and summer months. This means if you are driving, you will need to stop and wait for the sheep to pass.

Bighorn Crossing Zone – taken on previous trip to Rocky Mountain National Park from inside car

Bighorn sheep are attracted to Sheep Lakes because it is a natural salt lick that provides the animals with needed minerals.

We spotted the bighorn sheep at Sheep Lakes on the first day that the park opened to visitors after the shutdown for COVID-19. We came back later in the week to see if we could see the sheep again, and were surprised to see a pair of moose instead.

Bull moose can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and run as fast as 35 miles per hour.

Helpful links and resources

We’ve seen moose on both sides of Rocky Mountain National Park. On the East side of the the park we’ve spotted them at Sheep Lakes, Bierstadt Lake trail, Cub Lake trail, and Sprague Lake. On the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park, we’ve spotted moose in the Kawuneeche Valley and in the East Meadow. I’ve shared posts from all these hikes below. I’ve also included the National Park web pages where I found the moose and sheep facts for this post.

Family Hike to Bierstadt Lake Plus An Unexpected Moose Sighting

Moose Spotting Makes for a Memerable Morning Hike Around Sprague Lake

Peaceful Hike to East Meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park

Cub Lake Trail – a Wildlife Hotspot in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain Animal Game

Wildlife viewing – National Park service website

Bighorn Sheep – National Park service website

Moose – National Park service website