Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature CenterPlanning Your Visit

Planning a Trip to Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center

Teachers and group leaders are requested to schedule their visit to the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center by filling out the School Group Reservation Form and emailing it to kdwestcamp-johnson@agfc.state.ar.us.

What Should We Wear?

Because the nature center includes a hiking trail and outdoors exhibits, it’s best to wear comfortable walking shoes and layered clothing appropriate for outdoor activities. Sunscreen and bug repellent are especially important during spring and summer.

Be prepared for rain. Programs are not cancelled unless there are severe weather conditions. We will not cancel your reservation because of inclement weather; please call the center if you prefer to reschedule. Alternate indoor activities can be planned in case of inclement weather.

Can We Shop?

All visitors are welcome to visit the gift shop. We offer a wide selection of gifts, books, and nature supplies. If you would like to allow your group time to shop, please plan for additional time beyond the scheduled programs. We can plan a shopping visit as part of your visit plan. Pre-priced and gift souvenir bags are available if you wish to skip the gift shop during your visit.

Can We Eat Lunch There?

You are welcome to bring a sack lunch and enjoy the day at Wells Lake. However, picnic tables are limited. The north side of the lake is recommended for picnics and group lunches.

What if it Rains?

Reservations are not cancelled because of rain. You must contact the park if you wish to cancel and reschedule. Many alternate indoor activities can be planned for your visit.

People with Disabilities

The nature center is designed to be as accessible as possible. The Wells Lake Trail (0.7 miles long) and the Beaver Creek Trail (0.3 miles) meet all Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The trail hub for these areas is accessible from either the nature center or the parking area. Doors and hallways meet ADA standards.

Please let us know if any members of your group have special physical or behavioral needs. This will enable our staff to plan the best experience.

How Do We Get There?

From I-40 take the Fort Smith/Van Buren exit (Exit 7) onto I-540. Go south 11 miles to Zero Street (Exit 11); turn left onto Zero Street. Travel about 3-1/2 to 4 miles and turn right on Massard. Follow Massard for nearly 2 miles and you'll see Wells Lake Rd on the left. Turn left, and the Nature Center is just ahead.

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From I-40 take the Fort Smith/Van Buren exit (Exit 7) onto I-540. Take the Springhill/Chaffee exit (Exit 3). Turn south on Ark. Hwy 59. Travel 8-10 miles south, until Hwy. 59 ends at Ark. Hwy. 22. Take a left on Ark. Hwy. 22, and take the first right after the railroad tracks. Turn right on Fort Chaffee Blvd and drive ½ mile to Roberts Ave. Turn right on Roberts and follow it about 1¾ mile to its end at Wells Lake Road. Take a left on Wells Lake Road; the Nature Center and Wells Lake are on the right.

Discipline of Your Group

Teachers and chaperones are responsible for maintaining discipline in the group. One adult chaperone for every 10 to 15 children is recommended. Chaperones are expected to aid in supervision of the group, and should be dispersed throughout the group. Please explain to your students that appropriate, orderly behavior is expected during their visit. Remind the students to have respect for the natural resources and courtesy toward each other. Keep in mind that other people may be visiting the nature center at the same time.

Rules and Regulations

To help protect your group and your nature center, please make sure all members of your group follow the following rules:

  • All plants, animals, minerals, artifacts and other features on the center’s grounds are protected. Please leave them for the next person to enjoy.
  • Please dispose of trash properly. Trash containers are near picnic tables and inside the building.
  • While touring the center, all members of the group should remain with the group.
  • A staff member will be your hiking guide. Groups must stay behind the staff member on the interpretive trails unless instructed otherwise.

Student Preparation

Research shows students retain more information from field trips if they have some knowledge about what they will see, hear and experience prior to their visit. Please share information with your students before their visit to the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center. A trip to the nature center is an excellent way to reward students for completing a lesson plan about natural resources or biology.

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