Crowley’s Ridge is a unique geological formation in which many cities of the Arkansas Delta region reside. The unusual formation rises high above the alluvial plain of the Mississippi embayment, ranging from 250 to 550 feet depending on the precise location. An alluvial plain is a primarily flat landform that forms when sediment is deposited over many years. Crowley’s Ridge can be noticed the best in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, which the Mississippi River has created over the years. More precisely, Crowley’s Ridge is most notable between the Gulf of Mexico and the city of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
History and Composition of Crowley’s Ridge
Crowley’s Ridge is named for Benjamin Crowley, the first European-American to touch down in the area around 1820. More precisely, Crowley settled near the town of Paragould, Arkansas. Crowley’s Ridge formed naturally over the years, primarily from loess, sediment constructed by wind-blown dust that accumulates over time. At its highest, the ridge reaches 550 feet high. These wind-blown sediment deposits known as loess are found in many spots along the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley.
Adjacent to the ridge are many fossils discovered in thick deltaic soils and gravel pits. Among these fossils are mastodon teeth, mammoths, and horses. Researchers have determined that the fossils found near the ridge date back to somewhere around 10,000 years ago.
The history and wildlife of Crowley’s Ridge can be discovered at the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center. Located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center opened in 2004 to teach its many visitors about the unique geological formation. Among the many features of nature, the center is an exhibit area, discovery room, observation room, auditorium, and gift shop. The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center also features trails outside the facility that take visitors through wetlands, forests, and prairie. The nature center is named Forrest L. Wood, a former Arkansas Fish and Game Commission commissioner.
The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center is open all year round, except on Mondays and major holidays, including Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Hours of operation from Tuesday through Saturday are from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. On Sunday, the nature center is open from 1 – 5 p.m. The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center also has regularly educational programming that can be viewed on the facility’s official website.
The Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center also has hiking trails open each day from dawn to dusk. Among them is the Habitats Trail, which is about a quarter-mile long. The trail brings visitors through the beautiful area as well as around Willow Pond and the ridge top.
For visitors looking for a longer hike, trails connect to the Craighead Forest Park, where hikers can venture even farther. Visitors can observe the beautiful nature views and wildlife along the trail, from butterflies to amphibians to reptiles and birds.