Goin’ up country

August 13th, 2012

Swimming at Greers Ferry, Arkansas

Last week, I decided that the only way out of our cabin fever was to bust out of the cabin, triple digit temps be damned. I grabbed the kids and one of their good friends, and took off for a day of swimming at Dam Site park on Greers Ferry Lake, about an hour and a half north of here.

Greers Ferry is a Kennedy-era feat of engineering by the  U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. I hadn’t been up there in years, and I had forgotten how beautiful it is. The Dam Site swimming area is for public day use, and I assumed it would be crowded by the time we arrived mid-afternoon. But either because it was Monday, or because few were as crazy as us to be outdoors, we nearly had the place  to ourselves.

It was like our own private lagoon. The water was cool and clean, and brimming with schools of pretty little sunfish.

There’s a small sandy cove, where a wading area has been roped off for smaller kids, but we stayed on the rock ledges that border the deep water.

Because obviously.

It reminded me again how very beautiful Arkansas is. Even in August, when you’ve just spent a month by the sea.

Henceforth, this rock shall be known as “Kyran’s Happy Place.” Google mapmakers take note.

We stayed through several rounds of “Aw, not yet!” until it really was time to go. We can’t wait to go back.

Here’s a few things to know if you go:

  • There’s a $4/vehicle day use fee, payable at the gate.
  • There is no soap or sanitizer in the bathrooms, which are otherwise well maintained. Bring your own.
  • There’s a lovely shaded picnic area, or it would be, if we hadn’t been swarmed by flies the moment we opened our basket, on an Amityville-horror scale of infestation. I assume the open trash containers are to blame, as the tables and grounds were pretty tidy. Or maybe we’ve just gotten really slack about taking baths. We didn’t have issues with insects of any kind down by the water.
  • The lake drops off sharply from shallows to deep water. Also, there are lots of motorized water craft zooming around beyond the roped swim area. And there are no lifeguards. All of which is to say, don’t be stupid, and let your kids go off in five-dollar inflatable rafts without life jackets. There is a free life jacket loaner station, so you have no excuses. Take it from someone who grew up near the water–it’s always the landlocked who underestimate the risk of drowning.
  • Dam Site is a public swim area, and it’s in rural Arkansas. Meaning, it’s not the country club. Well, not that country club. You may overhear some coarse language. You’re going to see some interesting body art and swim suit choices. You’ll have an excellent opportunity to practice releasing judgment. And you are going to feel gloriously liberated from your own bikini insecurities. I didn’t feel the need to suck in my tummy one time. That alone is worth a return visit.

How about you? What’s your favorite “jump-in-the-car-and-go” swimming spot? Do you prefer salt water, fresh, or do you like to keep your dipping and diving filtered and chlorinated?

8 Responses to “Goin’ up country”

  1. JulietH says:

    What a great day & what a great memory…for you AND the boys! Love those sorts of day trips!

  2. Kelli Marks says:

    I will always remember that spot as the place I decided it was a good idea to do a one and a half gainer off a 40-foot cliff, land on my face and chip my tooth.
    It was still a good time.

  3. marilee pittman says:

    Sounds like the perfect swimming hole!

  4. Kathleen says:

    It looks so refreshing!! I always feel so harried in the summer…so much to do and not enough time since I am balancing writing and work (from home) while also having a fun summer. This inspires me to take another trip to the beach!

    Also very brave to take pics (and let your kids take pics) while IN the water.

  5. Leigh says:

    This brought back so many good memories! I attended Harding University not far from Greers Ferry, and my friends and I loved going there on hot Saturdays to jump off the cliffs and lay in the sun. Arkansas’ beauty is truly underrated.

  6. Shana says:

    I love that place. I grew up jumping off those very cliffs and enjoy taking my kids. My 9 year old still tells everyone about the time I held on to him and “made” him jump off the cliffs at age 4. Not like I remember it but whatever! Glad you had a chance to enjoy them!

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