WINSLOW, Ark. (KNWA) — Caves and trails can be found across Northwest Arkansas.
“It was just a split second and I turned around and he wasn’t there,” said Barbara Dunham.
Barbara Dunham has vacationed at Devil’s Den State Park for three years. After a scare with one of her grandchildren, she’s being more vigilant.
“I’ll always tell them to stay in a safe place and they have to let me know where they are at. They do have cellphones on them and also they have whistles,” Dunham said.
Devil’s Den attracts nearly half a million people a year and the park says that its visitors safety is its highest priority.
“We ask them to either call 911 if they have service or contact us either way, and we know some shortcuts we take an ATV and try to get help to them or get them off the trail,” said Devil’s Den Park Superintendent Monte Fuller.
But with most of the park without cell phone service, Fuller says traveling in a group is key.
“In the past what they’ve done is they either flag down others hikers, send word out to us that way or if they’re just overdue and missing — if they’re on the Butterfield Trail they have to give us a start time and end time. If they are overdue on the end time, then we start looking on our own,” Fuller said.
Last fall a man went missing while hiking Butterfield Hiking Trail.
“We don’t really know where he’s at but we’ve looked for him several times since we had the major incident, other agencies have looked for him and have not found a trace of him yet,” Fuller said.
And while all of the caves are closed due to fungus, “I feel confident I’m sure people have tried going into some of the caves.”
Fuller says people need to obey the signs and be cautious of where they go.
“Don’t over-extend yourself, tell someone where you’re going be prepared, pay attention to your surroundings.”