Hidden in plain sight in the Ouachita Mountains near Mount Ida is a true gem, and I mean that in a literal way. The whole place is known to produce lots and lots of crystal quartz, so much so that it’s known as the quartz capital of the United States.
I first learned of this place a few years ago while exploring a nearby recreation area. (This area is within the National Forest.) There was one tent at the campground, with a German Shepherd tied to a chain. The elderly lady approaches and I notice she has damn near a machete in a sheath at her side. She mentions something about noticing bear scat up the mountain that looked fresh and other odd local stories. After asking where I was from she says she knows of a spot just up the road for me to check out. The directions were to “Follow the road a couple miles to a dirt mound, park there, head down a jeep road, cross the creek four times and you’ll be there – a spot full of caves and LOTS of crystal quartz.”
I sure am glad I visited that day as I’ve taken several trips back with others to share with them. This spot is sort of a locals only secret. The people you would meet along the way already know about it from someone else and more often than not are bringing someone else along to share with them. For this reason, I don’t want to directly give the location away to preserve the atmosphere of this spot. I’d like to keep it how it is as it makes it so special and personally sharing this place with others has always been the only means of knowing about it.
I’ve watched this place grow in traffic so much over the years, it might not be such a secret anymore. I remember years ago, once making it to the caves, there were more than enough crystal quartz laying around that you just couldn’t even pick and choose all of them. Now-a-days though, it’s hard to find any with the exception of little bitty shards of them. It’s kind of sad really, but I can understand why with the place’s circumstances. It’s still a joy to visit and there’s many gorgeous spots in the area for light but quite dramatic bushwhack scenery.
I want to share some photo’s with you of the place, but will leave out the details of how to get there, what the hike is like, etc.
This is a mini-blog photo adventure.
Some of those close to me reading this will instantly recognize this place through these photos. It’s still our little secret. I’ve met many of strange people, and seen many of strange things while out there. There’s a lot more to explore than what I’ve shared. Many more caves, sweeping mountain views and nice features along the creek. For this recent visit though, my focus was actually Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day Portraits
Before my fiancee and I moved to Hot Springs, I had brought her up there to show her what the town was like in hopes of convincing her to move. We explored a little outside of Hot Springs, and this was one of the places I took her to in my attempts. So we have memories here, it’s nearby, comfortable, and easy going for the most part (unless you want to further explore via bushwhack). So we took our son Lucas on his first “mountain hike” to shoot some photo’s of my fiancee and him together for Mother’s Day.
Fatherhood is the best thing to have happened to me. Any opportunity I get to show my family off, I will. I’d like to share a few of my favorites from this shoot.