Cave Mountain Road

Buffalo National River reviews plans for improvements to Cave Mountain Road

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Access to popular hiking destination would be improved

If you have ever driven Cave Mountain Road from Highway 21 on your way to Hawksbill Crag, you know that the first couple of miles of the gravel road is steep and can be treacherous in the wrong vehicle. This section of road is in the westernmost section of the Buffalo National River and is managed by the National Park Service.

Cave Mountain Road Project Area
Cave Mountain Road Project Area

According to the Cave Mountain Road Rehabilitation Environmental Assessment (linked below), “The current road is gravel with insufficient drainage and does not meet the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s standards for roads. The purpose of and the need for the project is to improve conditions to provide adequate drainage, pave the 1.8-mile section of the road on NPS land, and increase safety by expanding road width and adding guard rails in certain areas.”

Map of Cave Mountain Road
Map of Cave Mountain Road

From the media release:

The National Park Service has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) after completing an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposed county and state-led efforts to reconstruct and repave the 1.8-mile section of Cave Mountain Road (Newton County Road 9560) that crosses Buffalo National River’s park boundaries. The National Park Service approves the implementation of the proposed action.    

This proposed project is designed to reduce the environmental impacts of the current road and improve access. It includes widening the identified 1.8-mile section of road, installing new culverts, and resurfacing. The project is to be funded by the State of Arkansas with road work to be completed by the Newton County Roads Department. The creation and review of this project was a collaborative effort between Buffalo National River, Newton County, the Arkansas Department of Transportation, and the Buffalo River Conservation Committee.

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“Improvements to Cave Mountain Road are a great example of the partnerships and positive impact on water quality that Governor Hutchinson intended when the Buffalo River Conservation Committee was established,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture.  

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About the EA process and FONSI 

The EA fully analyzed a “no action” alternative and a “proposed action” alternative. The proposed action was approved after careful analysis of resources and visitor impacts, consultation with eight affiliated tribes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Arkansas Ecological Services Field Office, Arkansas State Historic Preservation Office, and review of all public comments. The FONSI includes a report summarizing public comments and the NPS subject matter expert responses.

The EA and FONSI, including a complete outline of the planned improvements, can be reviewed at Parkplanning – Cave Mountain Road Improvements (

A favorite photo spot - Hawksbill Crag - Whitaker Point
A favorite photo spot – Hawksbill Crag – Whitaker Point

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