Gaston Visitor Center
The newly built $5 million, 15,744 square-foot Gaston’s Visitor Center, perched atop a park overlook in the Bull Shoals-White River State Park, offers a unique natural, historical and cultural experience for locals and out-of-town visitors alike.
Named in honor of Jim Gaston of Lakeview, owner of the famous Gaston’s White River Resort, the center offers views of the park’s most prominent attractions — Bull Shoals Lake, the White River, the dividing Bull Shoals Dam — and every piece of park landscape in between.
From large glass windows in the main lobby and back door deck to a two-story observation tower meant to replicate old forest fire towers, the Center offers stunning views of the park’s natural wonders.
The views inside the center are nearly as impressive as the views outside. Entering the center over the Bull Shoals Dam replica walkway, visitors are met with an abundance of educational, environmental and historical park paraphernalia in the state-of-the-art Exhibit Hall.
The hall features enlarged sculptures identifying fish indigenous to the lake and river, breathtaking photography of the river, lake and dam, two aquariums with live trout and other fish species and even a gift shop.
In the Johnboat Theater, visitors can watch timeless videos as locals share stories about life on the White River, as well as learn about one of the biggest dam construction projects in American history, the Bull Shoals Dam.
Interactive kiosks, internet access and an entire wing featuring classrooms offer unique educational experiences for the dozens of school districts within a 75-mile radius of the center, which includes 10 counties in Arkansas and 16 in Missouri.
Clearly, the Gaston’s Visitor Center is more than just a place to “get information.” It’s also an interactive classroom, a historical museum and a hub for environmental promotion and beauty. That’s probably why nearly 100,000 people visited in the center’s first year.
Make sure to add Gaston’s Visitor Center to your Ozark Mountain Region trip planner.