January 1st marks the beginning of the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial celebration and the seven National Park Service sites in Arkansas will kick off the celebration by launching the Centennial Iron Ranger Challenge – a year-long program to encourage visitors to “Find Your Park” and improve their health and fitness by completing 100 miles of physical activity over the course of the year.
Participants may choose to hike, bike, paddle, walk, run, or roll 100 miles in any of the national parks in Arkansas. Visitors who complete 100 miles of activity will receive a certificate and a commemorative patch to recognize their accomplishment, but the real reward will be experiencing the parks and the many benefits of physical recreation.
Participating Arkansas national park sites include: Arkansas Post National Memorial, Buffalo National River, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Hot Springs National Park, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Pea Ridge National Military Park, and President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site.
While the focus is on “national” parks during the 2016 Centennial, participants may count their miles of activity performed on any public lands in Arkansas, including state parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges, Army Corps of Engineers lands, etc (more on these public lands)
At Buffalo National River in northcentral Arkansas, the Centennial Iron Ranger Challenge will kick off on January 1, with a ranger-guided hike at the Lost Valley Trail near Ponca. The hike is approximately 2.4 miles, roundtrip, and includes a spectacular view of Eden Falls. No pre-registration is necessary. Hikers will be met by a ranger at the Lost Valley pavilion at 11:00 a.m.
Buffalo National River Deputy Superintendent Laura Miller encourages visitors of all ages and fitness levels to participate in the Centennial Iron Ranger Challenge. “The National Parks in Arkansas have so much to offer. Visitors can see spectacular views paddling the Buffalo River, take a bicycle tour of President Clinton’s hometown at the Clinton Birthplace Home, hike in the Ouachita Mountains and then relax with a thermal bath at Hot Springs National Park, and see places where history was made from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement. There are so many great options in Arkansas, so get out and have fun.”