Jasper, Arkansas

Known to canoers, kayakers, campers, backpackers, and hikers as the gateway to Buffalo National River, this quiet town found within the Ozark Mountains caters to those who love the outdoors and is commonly referred to as Arkansas' Grand Canyon. The Ozark St-Francis National Forest, a part of the Boston Mountains, can also be found to the south adding to the surrounding woodlands and giving Jasper its claim to fame as the "Elk Capital of Arkansas."

Geography And Climate Of Jasper

Misty November morning on the Buffalo River in Jasper, Arkansas
Misty November morning on the Buffalo River in Jasper, Arkansas. 

Jasper is a small city in Newton County situated in the northwestern corner of the US State of Arkansas. The city forms a portion of the Harrison Micropolitan Statistical Area. Jasper is found within the geological area known as the Ozark Mountains, which covers northwestern Arkansas, but more specifically, the Boston Mountains. This range encompasses Ozark St. Francis National Forest and is considered a Dissected Plateau, which was formed by severe erosion by a sharp ice sheet. The 246 km long Buffalo National River runs from the highest point of the Boston Mountains, through the Springfield and Salem plateaus, before joining the White River.

Jasper experiences a humid continental climate and has four seasons, most notably a long, muggy summer. Extreme weather is influenced by Arkansas's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. In a year, Jasper collects 493.1 mm of precipitation, which is mostly hail and rainfall. May is the rainiest month, with an average rainfall of 71.4 mm. The warmest month is July, with a median temperature of 26 degrees Celsius and the year's coldest month is January, with a median temperature of 3 degrees Celsius. Alternatively, the windiest month is March. 

History Of Jasper

Old Chimney of former homestead in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas
Old Chimney of former homestead in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. 

Jasper was founded on the banks of the Little Buffalo River in the 1840s. How it got its name is unclear, whether it was the Cherokee Indians fleeing the Trails of Tears that were caught off guard by the friendliness of town's people; Or a jasper ring was gifted by the Cherokee Indians to the postmaster of the town as a thank you for the gratitude received on their travels. During the American Civil War, Jasper supported the Union even though home to John Cecil, a Confederate guerilla. In 1863, Union soldiers came looking for John Cecil and burned the city to the ground. Thus, any sympathizers were moved to Springfield, Missouri. With the conclusion of the Civil War, Jasper became a prosperous logging town, mainly manufacturing oak and cedar in its sawmill from the surrounding woodlands. Henceforth, without any other large economies or plantations, Jasper could survive the Great Depression. During the mid-20th century, Jasper resident Dr. William Hudson's research on the effect of iodine on the thyroid gland would be instrumental in the consumption of table salt today.

The Population And Economy Of Jasper

Jasper sits in Newton County and has a population of 547 inhabitants. Yet, it is the 274th largest city in Arkansas, and on the US’ list of most populous cities, it ranks at 13,493rd. Jasper encompasses just over 1.3 sq. km and accounts for a population density of 221.31 persons per sq. km. The median household income is $45,468, with a gross monthly rent of $368. Alas, 22.22% of the population lives below the poverty line, with the average age of a resident being 37.6 years old. On the cost of living index, Jasper is rated at 76, whereas the state of Arkansas is 85.

The entire economy of Jasper, Arkansas, is made up of 221 workers. Thus, 75 employees make up the education sector, 32 in warehousing, and 29 in public administration. Arts, entertainment, accommodations, and food services are the highest-grossing sectors, and when combined, they account for $81,071 in revenue. However, transportation, warehousing, and utilities come behind it with a gross income of $58,600. Therefore, mixed freight (9.85%), meat and seafood (9.46%), and coal (6.62%) account for the top outbound domestic products for trade.

Attractions In Jasper

Buffalo National River

Buffalo River Horseshoe Bend in Arkansas Ozark Mountains
Buffalo River Horseshoe Bend in Arkansas Ozark Mountains. 

On March 1, 1972, the Buffalo River received its official designation as "National River," the first such designation at that time. Furthermore, it's a recognition of the importance of the river in the greater Ozark Mountains that provide a habitat for elk, in addition to its cultural and scientific significance. Today, the Buffalo River continues to be one of the few free-flowing and undammed rivers in the lower states. Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, camping, birding, stargazing, and fishing are a few activities that this river has to offer. Arkansas's longest cave, Fitton cave, can be found within the designated area. Resident animals include black bears, deer, elk, catfish, and bass.

Ozark St Francis National Forest

Arkansas Fall in Boston Mountains
Arkansas Fall in the Boston Mountains. 

Found south of Jasper is the Ozark St. Francis National Forest, which houses the Boston Mountains. The total forest covers an area of 1.2 million acres. Activities that are permitted include four-wheeling, fishing, camping, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, floating, picnicking, and hunting. Hunting is allowed for black bears and whitetail deer but must abide by local gaming laws. Tours are offered within the park to Blanchard Springs Cavern, where stalagmites, and stalactites, can be observed that still form crystalline structures.

Arkansas’ Grand Canyon

A scenic overlook at the Arkansas' Grand Canyon
A scenic overlook at Arkansas' Grand Canyon. 

Take a day trip on scenic byway 7 and see the canyon and rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains. Popular among bikers, this scenic road trip has many outlooks that offer breathtaking views that stretch for kilometers. 

Ideal for its long warm summers, Jasper may be the gateway to the National Buffalo River, but it's more than such, with many outdoor activities available. Known as the "Elk Capital of Arkansas," these large creatures live within the confines of the Boston Mountains that make up the area, further forgetting the logging boom past that diminished these same woodlands. Today, a small scenic town among the hills, its focus has shifted to promoting and conserving fishing and gaming for incoming adventure seekers.

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