Buffalo Gap Auto Tour Scenic Drive

The Basics

Buffalo Gap Auto Tour Scenic Drive
Jessieville, AR

Phone: (501) 984-5313 (Jessieville District Office)

Closest Towns: Hot Springs, Ola, Plainview, Jessieville

Directions: From the Jessieville Ranger Office, head North on AR Hwy 7 for approx. 6.1 miles to FR#11/CR#5 on your Left.

About Buffalo Gap Scenic Drive

The Buffalo Gap Auto Tour offers a short but scenic loop drive through a remote portion of the Ouachita National Forest, and offers some very scenic views along the way. This 9 mile route is also popular with hikers and mountain bikers.

Before you begin the tour, be sure to pick a free copy of the Buffalo Gap Tour Gide booklet, available at both the main forest office in Hot springs, and the Jessieville Ranger Office on AR Scenic Highway 7.

The tour begins just off of AR Scenic Highway 7, across the road from the Winona Scenic Drive, on Forest Road #11. Begin by heading West on FR#11. After 1.2 miles, you will come to an intersection. The tour loops around and come in from the left at this intersection, but we want to keep heading Straight. After 2.2 miles, look for a turn off to your Right, leading to the first stop along the tour:

Deckard Mountain Overlook
This scenic overlook offers views of Deckard Mountain and the surrounding Ouachita Mountains to the north. More to the west, Petit Jean Mountain and Forked Mountain can be seen off in the distance. Deckard Mountain gets its name from the legend of a man named Deckard who once lived on this mountain many years ago. Legend has it that one day while he was out hunting for his next meal, Deckard came upon a black bear, and the bear eventually attacked him. After an intense fight, both the bear and Deckard were later found dead side by side, the bear having a knife wound to its heart.
This overlook area is just inside the Deckard Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area, and provides access to the Bear Creek Equestrian Trails, which explore the Deckard Mtn Turkey Area.

Back out on FR#11, continue heading West for 0.2 mile. Looking to your left, you will pass by the:

Blue Ouachita Mountain Overlook
In the distance, Blue Ouachita Mountain is the large ridgeline running East to West. Off to the far right is Ouachita Pinnacle, which once housed a fire tower during the CCC era. When a fire was spotted, the tower would radio the location down to the main forest or CCC office, and crews would be dispatched to battle the wildfire.

Continuing along FR#11, you will come to an intersection at 4.5 miles into the tour. We will take a Left at this intersection. (Taking a right onto FR#772 will lead you to the Bear Creek Horse Camp).

You will quickly come to another intersection, and we will want to take another Left, this time following FR#788 back towards the East. After about 2 miles, you will come to another intersection. Take a Left onto FR#122. After about a ½ mile, you will pass by the third vista on your left, and this tour's namesake:

Buffalo Gap Overlook
This overlook provides distant views out across Buffalo Gap, which was an important mountain pass route for native americans, settlers, explorers and soldiers. Buffalo Gap is said to have gotten its name from native americans, who used to chase bison down into the gap, and then attack them from both sides. There are even rumors passed down through the years of early spanish soldiers burying gold down in Blakley Creek, which runs through Buffalo Gap.

As you continue along FR#122, you come back to the first intersection you passed along this route at FR#11, completing the loop. Turn Right onto FR#11 and head back to Scenic Highway 7 to finish the 9½ mile tour.

What's Nearby

Parks & Nature
Flatside Wilderness
Lake Ouachita State Park

Bear Creek Equestrian Trails
Lake Ouachita State Park Trails

Bear Creek Horse Camp
Lake Ouachita State Park Campground
South Fourche Campground

Lake Ouachita State Park Cabins

Local Eateries

Gear & Supplies

Other Attractions
Deckard Mountain Walk-In Turkey Hunting Area
Winona Auto Tour Scenic Drive

Towns & Cities