Mammoth Spring, the northern most community in the Ozark Gateway region, is best known for Arkansas’ largest spring, the second largest in the Ozark Mountains. A National Natural Landmark, the spring flows over nine million gallons of water per hour, forming a ten acre lake, then flowing south to become the Spring River. The constant flow from from Mammoth Spring makes the river a popular floating destination year-round, even during the summer months when river levels fall. Between Mammoth Spring and Hardy there are six public access points for boating, fishing and swimming. There are many campgrounds and outfitters in the area to help with camping and float trips. The river is also a fishing enthusiast’s delight, stocked with rainbow trout, walleye, and bass.
Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery, operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has been producing fish for public use and restoration for over a century. Established in 1903, the hatchery is one of the oldest in the nation. The hatchery uses water from Mammoth Spring to help hatch recovering and endangered fish. The hatchery has an aquarium and growing tanks that can be viewed from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m.
The Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery is the commission’s only cold water hatchery. It raises Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout. Its production facilities include twenty-one raceways and forty-seven in-ground silos. Trout produced at the hatchery are needed for a “put and take” fishery since there is very little natural reproduction of the species.
Mammoth Spring State Park, one of the state’s most popular parks, has a 6/10 of a mile loop trail that take visitors on a self-guided tour through the park. The park takes full advantage of the spring with kayaks, paddle boats, and a hydro-plant museum. While Mammoth Spring is the major park attraction, the park also contains a playground, basketball court, baseball diamond, and a welcoming visitor center and gift shop.
The park is also home to the 1886 Frisco Depot Museum. The historic and well-preserved depot has been skillfully renovated as a living history museum. The museum contains lifelike mannequins, audio exhibits, video programs, and a tour guide. It brings a bygone era to life and is a must see for train and history enthusiasts. The park is open from dawn till dusk; the visitor center is open from 8:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. from Memorial Day till Labor Day. The museum is closed on Mondays.
After a day spent fishing or touring the park, visitors can head downtown to enjoy one of several outstanding restaurants. Fred’s Fish House and Wood’s Riverbend, both on Main Street, are extremely popular with locals and visitors. Dorsey & Wanda’s State Line Restaurant, just across the Missouri state line, is also popular. Their whimsical motto is “Open 26 Hours a Day.” Downtown Mammoth Spring is also home to a number of interesting shops, including the charming and eclectic Ozark Heritage Mall, as well as a park and a number of historic buildings.
If you plan to spend the night, or a few nights, Mammoth Spring can meet your needs. The Roseland Inn Bed & Breakfast and Mammoth Spring Lodge are affordable, comfortable, and easy to reach. If you are planning to camp, you can choose from Spring River Oaks Camp and Canoe Rental, Riverside Campground and Canoe Rental, and Many Islands Camp and Canoe.
Mammoth Springs is conveniently situated within easy reach of Hardy, Calico Rock, Salem, and Horseshoe Bend—four distinctive communities well worth the drive. For an overview of the region pick-up an Ozark Gateway Tourist Guide at any Arkansas Welcome Center and many hotels, restaurants, shops, and state parks. You can also download the guide at www.ozarkgateway.com. Drive safely!