Adventure Arkansas: Chasing Waterfalls with Tim Ernst

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All across Arkansas, water flows -- and falls -- with force and beauty.

One man is continuing his quest to document as many waterfalls as possible, and share their hiding spots with everyone.

Sean Bailey talked to Tim Ernst about his lifetime of chasing waterfalls in this week's Adventure Arkansas.

"My most favorite waterfall on any given day is the one I'm gonna go take pictures of, because I love waterfalls, but I am absolutely thrilled when I get to photograph one, get to capture one," said Tim Ernst, waterfall guide author. "Even though I've seen some of them hundreds of times, I still love going back and taking pictures of them."

Waterfalls have captured Tim Ernst's sense of adventure since he was young.

"I grew up outdoors; ever since I was 5 years old my dad first took me camping," said Ernst. "I've always been drawn to streams and they lead to waterfalls and it was just like magic."

And waterfalls have been finding ways to weave into his life, especially Pam's Grotto.

"I first saw this waterfall back in the 1970s, when I was backpacking through here and trying to get out of the rain," he said. "It always had just a magical feel to me then, and always has. That sums up the relationship I have with my wife, Pam. This is hers."

This waterfall has special meaning to Ernst and his marriage, and he explains why the aura of Arkansas's waterfalls capture the human spirit.

"Seeing a waterfall in person is always better than seeing a picture of one. I think that just like this one, walking up to a waterfall in person you have all your senses firing off," he said. "You get the cool breezes, and waterfalls create I think negative ions or something to make you feel better, makes you kind of euphoric."

Pam's Grotto is about 40 feet tall, but Ernst said the height alone has little impact on how a waterfall can make you feel.

"It's the setting that the waterfall is in and, to me, that adds as much, if not more, character than just the fall itself," Ernst said. "I've seen a lot of really tall, skinny waterfalls, that you know that's great, that's a 200-foot waterfall, but I prefer smaller waterfalls like this with much more personality."

And Arkansas has no shortage of waterfalls with personality. He features and photographs hundreds of them all across the Buffalo River, the Ozarks and Ouachitas in his guidebooks, which have sold a quarter of a million copies.

That wraps up this week's Adventure Arkansas.


If you're looking for a fun hike with a splash of waterfall, we have links and directions to Pam's Grotto and other waterfalls on the interactive Adventure Arkansas map here. ​

Directions for Pam's Grotto: Near Haw Creek Falls Campground on Highway 123. GPS Coordinates are: 35.68330. -93.25539

Segment Sponsored By: Adventure Subaru


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