The Burton Blog

Exploring the Hills and Hollers of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains

Arkansas isn’t exactly synonymous with snowboarding. Then again, that’s not what we were looking for.

It was April, 2015, when we set out to explore a new spot on the map. A tucked away place with space to wander; one where we’d all be sharing a sense of discovery. With that in mind, we set our sights on northwestern Arkansas—the Ozarks to be precise. A backwoods gem known more for moonshine and mystic caverns than high-speed lifts and waist-deep pow.    

“No officer, it’s not what you think.”
Danny chilling in front of our Airbnb.

Our crew of Burton staff, filmers, and photographers converged from across North America. For the Burton Team, we had Mikkel Bang fresh from a film trip to Alaska. Danny Davis had just wrapped up Peace Park in Grand Targhee, and Mark Sollors dropped in from his hometown of Whistler, BC. With the winter season winding down, the photoshoot offered a welcome change of pace and a chance to get a jumpstart on spring adventures. Sure, the goal was to shoot commercials and catalog shots for the newest Durable Goods collection of men’s apparel, women’s apparel, bags, and camping gear, however the vibe was anything but work.

Random dogs make good models.
Amazingly, the only canoe we saw overturn wasn’t with us.

The hamlet of Ponca and nearby Buffalo River served as our home base. The maze of dirt roads and trails fanning out in all directions kept us curious and gave us plenty to explore. The idea of rattlesnakes and other critters kept us Yankees cautious. And with spring-fed waterfalls and sprouting vegetation all around us, this “dry” county seemed like anything but, even if we had to drive 100 miles north for legalized beer. If only the entourage of fully strapped National Park Rangers and police who, by law, had to accompany us at every location, knew what we were up to.

With rolling hills and endless green, the Ozarks had that Vermont vibe, in their own way. And that was exactly why we chose Arkansas of all places. With the hills of Vermont still buried deep in late season snow, we hit fast forward on spring by jumping the Mason Dixon line. What we found down there was a backwoods place that moved at its own pace. It was all familiar yet completely foreign; a hidden gem where locals knew us, simply because we weren’t.

We didn’t quite achieve our goal of finding a live specimen of every mushroom on that tent.
Mikkel unsure which side of the fence the area’s elk herd resides.
End of a long day shooting, right before the fireworks came out.
Who needs indoor plumbing?
Mikkel and Sollors showing solid acting skills in the 50 degree water.
We followed this creek bed to its source and found a hidden waterfall deep inside a pitch black cave.

Funniest part about it was that at seemingly every location we went, the question we got was the same. “Are you the snowboarders?” Danny even got recognized by a river guide in the literal ass end of nowhere. The attention caught us all off guard, but then again it served as a reminder. Snowboarding is who we are, it’s what we do. It’s what defines our spirit for adventure. No matter where we are or what the season, the experiences we share in the mountains offer a common thread that is always carried with us.

Make this the season you get outside your comfort zone and escape to somewhere new, somewhere unexpected. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where, when, why or who you’re with. Just go.∆