Seasons in the 501

story and photos
by Bill Patterson

One of the many reasons I enjoy living in the 501 is the change in seasons. 

My son lives in Southern California along the Pacific coast. Most days are sunny and in the 70s; now that sounds very inviting during the dog days of August and the cold nights of January, but I still prefer to see the seasons change as we pass through another year.

The anticipation of spring as the birds start chirping and the trees start budding out; seeing the forsythias and redbuds being the first to show their color and my favorite tree, the dogwood, with its reminder that Easter is near. 

Black-eyed-susans and coneflowers are abundant at the Camp Robinson Special Use Area. I used a filter to give an effect that captured the hot day I was out taking the pictures.

Nothing says spring to me like a trip to Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs to see the tulips. I have made several trips to photograph these beautiful flowers and always come away in awe of their beauty and with the reminder that spring is here.

As the beauty of spring turns into the dog days of summer, it gets harder to find things to photograph. One place I discovered with my photography buddy, the late Roger Taylor, is Camp Robinson Special Use Area. It can be full of wildflowers just waiting to show their unique beauty. There is also an abundance of wildlife there as well. 

The area that I visit most is on the north side of Lake Conway. After entering the area near the gun range, ride the gravel roads and you will see a large variety of wildflowers. Some are planted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and others are native seeds just waiting for the right conditions to sprout.

When September has its harvest moon and we get that first cool breeze after another hot Arkansas summer, my mind starts dreaming of fall colors in the 501.

Fall in Arkansas seems to give all photographers the renewed fever to get out and start capturing the color. With the weather being so unpredictable in the fall, it is hard for a working guy to set a day to go take pictures, so I have a list of a few places nearby in the 501 that I can get to quickly if the weather turns nice and I only have a short time to take pictures while the colors are at or near peak. 

One place for me is a little known place in Perry County called Browns Creek. It is off Highway 9 and it is one of the roads that leads to Flatside Pinnacle Wilderness. Along Browns Creek there are some cascades and if you like fall color and water, it can really be nice. Check it out. You wonʼt be disappointed. 

While close by, climb to the top of Flatside Pinnacle. With almost a 360 degree view of the surrounding hills, the view is spectacular.

Near Lake Sylvia and Flatside Wilderness, Browns Creek (below) has some nice areas that to me just say “Arkansas.”

As the leaves start falling and the wind becomes crisp, winter is upon us. While we donʼt get much snow in the 501, when we do, it is an event that can clear store shelves in a matter of a few hours. 

Snow can be hard to photograph and have any color. I usually end up with pictures that look better as black and white because of the lack of contrast in the images. 

One exception is a nice building like the Old Mill in North Little Rock or the Presidentʼs Home on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. A few years ago, we had a snow on Christmas day and it made the images even more fun to capture.

The seasons change and so do I. In the 501, the seasons will continue and so will I, trying to capture the beauty that surrounds us in this place we call the 501.