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Friday, July 24, 2015

The Peel Ferry, a Free Boat Ride in Arkansas

While doing some preliminary research on our trip to Arkansas, I found a tasty little spot we had to experience for ourselves.  In Northern Arkansas on Bull Shoals Lake, there is a ferry.  A free ferry.  Yes please!  We cut our visit to the Buffalo National River a tad bit short so we could make it to the ferry before it did its last run for the day.  The road between the Tyler Bend visitor center and the Peel ferry was just about as crooked as could be.  The bends this way and that way got to be rather taxing, and we were fortunate that nobody got car sick.  A time or two I had to slow way down though or I'm sure bad things would have happened. 

Finally, after a bajillion bends and turns, we reached the end of the road. Beyond the ferry dock was the blue open water of Bull Shoals Lake.  A sign told us to put the car in park and wait for the ferry, so we did.  The Peel Ferry is the last free ferry in the Arkansas State Highway system.  It's somewhat out in the boonies, and the decision had been made at one point or another to keep the ferry instead of build a bridge.  I guess for the (limited) amount of traffic the highway gets, it's more economical to operate a ferry then it is to build and maintain a bridge.  This Arkansas Highways article does a great job of telling more about the ferry.  We just watched it as it came closer and closer, until it was our turn for a ride. 
We drove on to the ferry, put the car in park, and after they'd left the dock we were free to get out and wander around for the 20 minute ride.   We looked over the edge, talked with one of the ferry operators, and asked him a few questions. He patiently listened to the kids questions and answered them at a level they would understand.  Then it was my turn for my only question.   Before we knew it, it was time to get back in the car and continue on into Missouri.  If you're wondering what my question was, I'll tell you the answer.  No, they can't fish while they are working. 

Nearest City: Peel, AR
Location: Highway 125 by Peel, Arkansas
Time Needed: 20 minutes to cross
Difficulty: easy
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info: Arkansas.com page on the Peel Ferry

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