Buzzard Roost, Ozark-St Francis Nat’l Forest, Arkansas: Hunt for the Milky Way Pt. 2

Off we drove to Arkansas. Brittany, Tuukka and I headed south down into the Ozark Mountain Highlands. Down old dirt forest roads in search of mountain views and secluded campsites. After arriving at the unmarked trailhead in Ozark-St Francis National Forest, we backpacked in another 2 miles to find our camp and Ozark vista. Buzzard Roost would be our home for the next 24 hours.

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Ozark pine forests are very reminiscent of life up north.

So in my last post, Hunt for the Milky Way Pt. 1, I was a bit bummed out and it probably showed in my video. The Milky Way shooting is a bit more challenging here in the Ozarks than it is in Minnesota. Up north, I could step outside the back door and see the Milky Way. I could walk outside the front door and see the northern lights. All that changes here. Right now, in March, the Milky Way sits on the horizon in Missouri and Arkansas. If you’re not up high, you’ll miss it. So the trick is to find the high views where the hills and mountains are concealing your elusive subject. Throw in a good amount of light pollution and your spots are even more limited.

Buzzard Roost seemed to be the solution to the problem. With a southeast view from the bluffs near camp, it would make for a perfect shooting location for the Milky Way. Add to that, some of the larger natural stone arches in the area flanking the Roost, the locations seemed ideal.

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This time of year the Ozarks are absolutely breathtaking. With leafless trees, the views of neighboring mountains are endless. Not to mention, wildflowers begin to bloom. (iPhone 8+)

After a drive down the old forest roads of Ozark-St Francis National Forest, we arrived at the unmarked and well overlooked trailhead. After our 2 mile trek in we set up camp directly above Buzzard Roost for the night. The remainder of the evening was spent exploring the area’s stone arches and tunnels and hallways below Buzzard Roost. Planning my night based around the Milky Way, I had my shots all lined out. It was a successful night of shooting, and my subject was cooperative.

 

Long story short, photographing the Milky Way in this part of the country is not like photographing the Milky Way in northern Minnesota. Here it is a bit more of a challenge and that is alright. Really, I think I appreciate it more this way. It requires more work and more adventure.

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Sunrise from Buzzard Roost. (iPhone 8+)
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Below the Roost… (iPhone 8+)
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Milky Way above Buzzard Roost (Fujifilm XT2, Samyang 12mm)
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Stone Arch under the Milky Way (Fujifilm XT2, Samyang 12mm)
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Glowing Trees at Sunset (Fujifilm XT2, Fujinon 55-200)
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The Tunnels Below (Fujifilm XT2, Fujinon 10-24mm)

I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed capturing them.

—Jake

 

 

 

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