6 Places to Spot Bald Eagles in Northwest Arkansas

By NWA Daily | Published January 9

 As you scout out warm places to spend the holidays and Winter season, Bald Eagles are doing the same thing. Eagles typically reside in the northern part of the US and Canada, but Northern winters cause the eagle’s favorite lakes and rivers for hunting to freeze over. The Bald Eagles make their way down South to find non-frozen bodies of water so they can continue to hunt. We’re lucky because Arkansas actually has a small population of Bald Eagles living here year-round. 37 North Expeditions details their favorite eagle watching tips and the best places to spot Bald Eagles in Northwest Arkansas. Happy Eagle spotting! 

Eagle Spotting Tips

What are the best types of days to go Eagle spotting?

For the best possible eagle-watching days, keep an eye on the weather up North near the Great Lakes and other regions North of Arkansas. A cold front in those areas causes bodies of water to freeze, sending Bald Eagles towards NWA. 

When is the best time of day to spot a Bald Eagle?

Bald Eagles soar most often when temperatures are rising. Mid to late morning will provide a better chance to spot one flying through the sky. =

Do I need any special equipment to spot a Bald Eagle?

Binoculars are helpful, but not a necessity. They will allow you to tell Bald Eagles apart from other big birds of prey. They also allow you to get a closer look. We also recommend warm clothes, gloves, and hand warmers. Remember that temperatures are cooler near the water!

What should I look for when trying to spot an Eagle?

Bald Eagles are very big, with a wingspan of up to six feet! If they’re around, you’ll see them. Mature adults are unmistakable with bright white heads and tails. In bright sun, the white tail and head can blend into the sky making it look like you’re seeing a headless, tailless bird. Younger birds that are less than five years old are brown all over or blotchy brown and white. Eagles soar steadily, without the rocking motions you may have seen in similarly colored turkey vultures. 

Eagles like to steal food from other fish-hunting birds. Keep an eye out for herons, osprey, and other birds that might be a target for thieving eagles. They will also steal from other eagles and hawks. Listen for hawks calling for a potential eagle sighting tip-off. 

Lastly, you can look for Eagle nests. The nests are huge, up to six feet across and sometimes weighing over a ton. They’re located in trees and are used year after year. 

Hobbs State Park (Rogers)

The Pigeon Roost trail is one of our favorites to spot Bald Eagles, but there are many great trails in the park. The Pigeon trail follows an arm of Beaver Lake that provides great views of the lake and shore. Park staff offer eagle watching boat tours on Beaver Lake, which hosts up to 200 Bald Eagles in the Winter. The park visitor center also has a busy bird-feeding station you can watch from the windows while you warm up!

What else to watch for: Lucky lake viewers might also catch a sighting of a loon. The pine stands in this park are a great habitat for songbirds year-round, and busy woodpeckers and nuthatches in the winter. 

Photo: Eagle watch boat tour, courtesy of 37 North Expeditions

Lake Dardanelle State Park (Russellville) 

This park hosts eagle cruises on the lake or you can take a self guided tour by renting a boat at the marina. Visitors can also take a walk on the short hiking trail or watch for eagles from shore at designated wildlife areas. 

What else to watch for: The visitor center has live animals and several aquariums featuring freshwater fish. 

Photo: Eagle watch boat tour, courtesy of 37 North Expeditions

Bull Shoals-White River State Park (Bull Shoals) 

Bull Shoals Lake and the White River make for a double-habitat area for eagles. The Lakeside trail provides good lake views, but you can also rent a boat or take guided cruises of the lake or river. Park staff host guided walks, boat tours, and interpretive programs about eagles year-round and specific eagle-watching events in January. 

Photo: Eagle on White River, courtesy of Arkansas Tourism 

Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge (Pottsville) 

The refuge is in the curve of an oxbow lake on the Arkansas River. You can drive your car around the refuge or take a guided driving tour in January. This allows you to enjoy eagle watching from the comfort of a warm vehicle. There are walking trails available as well. 

What else to watch for: The refuge is home to over 280 species of birds including other birds of prey and waterfowl!

Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism 

Lake Sequoyah Trails (Fayetteville) 

There are three trails to choose from ranging from two to five miles. The Kingfisher and Shoreline trails cover both the East and West sides of the lake and the Rookery trail follows the White River. Any of these trials would be excellent places to find Bald Eagles roosting and hunting over the water. 

Eagle Watch Nature Trail (Gentry) 

An off-the-beaten-path spot on a small lake that serves as cooling for the Flint Creek Power plant, which means the water stays warm all year and never freezes over. This makes for good fishing for both eagles and people (the lake is known for big fish). The trail is easy, and includes benches and a covered pavilion at the lake overlook, making this a great place to eagle watch in less-than-perfect weather. 

Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Tourism 

If self guided tours aren’t your thing, 37 North has multiple eagle watching adventures throughout the Winter season. The adventures include an expert guide who is knowledgeable on eagles and birding. All adventure planning and details are taken care of for you, including transportation and any equipment needed. You can view upcoming adventures on their website. 

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