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Recreation in Shirley


Primitive: The Middle Fork of the Little Red River runs through the Shirley city limits and under Highway 9 which provides access to both sides of town. The river affords locals and visitors several recreational opportunities. Primitive camping is provided for free, courtesy of the City, along the north bank near the baseball/softball complex. Port-a-potties are at the site and J&P Flash Market is just a short walk away.
Modern:  The U.S. Corps of Engineers maintains camping areas all along Greers Ferry Lake, located six miles from Shirley. Tent camping and RV hookup sites available for a fee. Call toll free 1-877-444-6777 to reserve a lake campsite or for group camping.


  Spring and Fall seasons offer canoeing opportunities on the Little Red River for water enthusiasts. Put in upstream along the old railroad right of way and paddle away. Easy take out at the Highway 9 Bridge in Shirley.


  Greers Ferry Lake, with its sparkling clean water provides locals and tourists a fun place to tube, kneeboard, and ski. Several marinas in the area have rental boats and equipment. Just 38 miles away, the Greers Ferry Dam near Heber Springs was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy in October 1963, his last major public appearance before his assassination in Dallas.


  The River Road provides a beautiful place for those who want to see nature from horseback. Horse trailers may be parked at the rodeo arena parking lot downtown. The old railroad bridge is paved for one-horse or one-vehicle traffic to access the River Road which generally follows the river and old railroad bed. Horseback riders are a big part of the parade each year at Homecoming, held the first weekend in June. 


  The River Road is a popular place for four wheelers to splash through mud holes or putter at a more leisurely pace. Trailer parking is available near the rodeo arena. Four wheelers can traverse the river road and trails to see old ghost towns such as Oakvale, Arlberg and Lydalisk along the old railroad bed. Trails navigate around several gates across the road. Exit the River Road as far away as Fox, eight miles away, or even Oxley if you have are really feeling adventurous and have lots of time. Access to the River Road is made possible due to the cooperation and generosity of private landowners, so please respect their property and keep it clean.


   The Little Red River is known for its bass, bream, walleye, catfish, and perch. An easily
accessible launch area is available at the north side of the Highway 9 Bridge. Early settlers
fished the river to feed their families and before their arrival, Native Americans enjoyed the
bounty of the river area. A German brown trout caught downstream on the Little Red River held
the record for 20 years. Forty thousand acre Greers Ferry Lake, just six miles, away hosts
numerous fishing tournaments and still holds the world record for walleye and hybrid striper. 


Cottrell Wilson Historic Trail:  Enjoy the beautiful Historic Trail with trailhead located in
downtown Shirley at the original railroad yard depot site. The trailhead is on land formerly
owned by the late Sid Burgess who was the last depot agent. The trail is available to the 
public thanks to the generosity of private landowners. The trail meanders one mile along
the river, east of downtown, and ends at the Cottrell Wilson cemetery. Your two-mile round
trip takes you along bluffs, across a small stream, and up the hill where there is a turnstile
entry into the cemetery.  The cemetery contains about 40 graves (mostly unmarked), 
including 10 Indians, several members of the Wilson and Cottrell families, and a 
Bulgarian worker who died while making the cut for the railroad.  
The River Road:  For a ‘back to nature’ walk or hike, take the old gravel road along the river.  
The trees provide a canopy over your head, the river is nearby, and there’s plenty of wildlife 
around. Parking available downtown near the rodeo arena, then walk across the river on the 
old railroad bridge.


  Shirley boasts the only public rodeo arena in Van Buren County. Get ready to see boots and horses and riders of every age, male and female. Rodeos are sponsored by the Red River Saddle Club. The Shirley arena hosts the FFA rodeo annually in May.

The rodeo is a feature event on Friday and Saturday nights of the annual homecoming held the first weekend in June. Shirley arena hosted a National Championship Bull Riding sanctioned event in July with Young Gun division and Pro division competitors. 

Play days are scheduled in the fall and spring. Contact Ashley Tackett at (501) 253-2422 for more information about Shirley rodeo events and follow the events page of this website.

   A half-mile paved walking trail loops around the baseball/softball complex and near the river. Entry point at the archway near City Hall where parking is available.  

  A brand new city playground is available in downtown Shirley through a FUN park grant by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism. It contains a playground, basketball court, and pavilion with picnic tables. Parking is available at City Hall.

  Live music performances and dancing take place at the covered stage on the site of the old train depot. Call City Hall for more information.

   The city-owned field provides the location for high school baseball and softball in the early spring. By late spring and through the summer, city youth leagues from ages 3 to 16 are on the three diamonds most nights. Concession stand is open at games. Shirley holds the 2002 state title for Pony League.

   Mountain Ranch Golf Course, located 5.5 miles from Shirley, is ranked the #1 resort golf course in Arkansas. Shirley High School holds several state golf titles, and Mountain Ranch is the athletes’ home course. The 18-hole championship layout takes advantage of the natural beauty of the area. Designed by Edmund Ault, the 6,780 yard masterpiece keeps golfers coming back. Ranked as Golflink’s #4 Best-Valued Course in America and #2 Best Public Course in Arkansas, the experience won’t break the bank! Golf clinics by PGA professionals are available. Call 501-884-3400 for tee-times.