Local Wildlife

Local Wildlife

Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma, the Ouachita National Forest is a vast expanse of unspoiled wilderness. Its stunning trees and natural habitats cover 1.8 million acres.

The name “Ouachita” comes from the Choctaw language and means “large hunting area.” The name is fitting, as the majority of the area has dense forests and a vast array of wildlife including both non-game and game species. A variety of trees, such as pine, oak, and hickory, are spread throughout the forest, even at higher elevations.

Red-shouldered Hawks

Red-shouldered hawks are one of the permanent residents of the national forest, though they are especially noticeable during migration periods. These hawks are part of the Buteo group, characterized by their chunky appearance, fan-shaped tails, and broad wings.

Red-shouldered Hawks have a dark brown back, a brown head, and finely barred underparts in reddish brown. They tend to prefer oak, cypress, and pine forests located near bodies of water. Keep your eyes peeled during your visit and you might just spot one of these fascinating birds of prey.


Deer are well adapted to forested habitats as these regions provide everything they need for survival, including food, shelter, rest, and breeding grounds. The Talimena National Scenic Byway is a great place for spotting deer.

These animals can grow up to 300 pounds and stand between 31 and 40 inches tall at the shoulder. Their coats change color throughout the year, with reddish-brown hues in summer and duller grayish brown in winter. Deer have white fur on their throats, inner ears, underparts, and tails.

Black Bear

Avid bear watchers should visit the Talimena National Scenic Byway. This location is in the midst of one of the most significant black bear habitats in Arkansas. It’s an ideal spot for bear sightings. You can catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures all year round, but the best time to see them is from late April through May, especially during twilight.

Black Bears, the only type of bears that inhabit this area, have a coat that is typically black. However, it can also be dark brown, yellow-brown, or cinnamon. Their eyes are brown, and their skin is light gray. These bears can be quite large… ranging from 4 to 7 feet in length.

It’s important to remember not to startle a bear if you happen to encounter one. Instead, try to alter your route or back away slowly, ideally in the direction you came from. Walk calmly and keep your eye on the bear to observe its reaction.

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While most kinds of snakes in Arkansas are non-venomous, there are six venomous snakes that need to be left alone. It is illegal to kill a venomous snake in Arkansas unless it is a direct threat because there is no hunting season for snakes in the state.


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Screaming Eagle Cabins