Head for the Arkansas Ozarks

If you plan on just passing through Arkansas on your route north this spring, take a second look.

The Ozarks begin its color makeover at the end of September and early October, with several trees implementing brilliant flush tones. Photo courtesy Ozark Mountain Region

The true identity of Arkansas lies in the riches Mother Nature has endowed on the region. The self-proclaimed “Natural State,” Arkansas delivers with a real outdoor lovers’ paradise.

Flanked by the Ouchita and the Ozark mountain ranges in the west and the Mississippi River to the east, The Natural State also spills with its famed natural hot springs, 600,000 acres of lakes, 9,700 miles of rivers and streams, and 2.4 million acres of national forests.

Forests cover about half of the state, and there are about 300 hiking trails. Across Arkansas you’ll find a vast variety of trees including oaks, willows, maples, plums, elms, dogwoods, ashes, wild cherries, hickories, and magnolias. During autumn, the mountains and valleys turn a vivid palette of hues, while wildflowers bring color to the landscape in spring.

The name Arkansas means south wind, or land of the downstream people, which was a term used to describe the Quapaws, an early Indian tribe that resided here.

Arkansas is sectioned into five main regions: the Ozark Plateau, the Ouachita Mountains, the Arkansas Valley, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, and the West Gulf Coastal Plain.

The Ozarks

Located above and below Bull Shoals Dam, Bull Shoals-White River State Park stretches along the riverside and lakeshore. Photo courtesy freshare.net

The Ozarks are home to some of the state’s most popular national and state parks, including the Ozark National Forest, which features the state’s highest peak at Mt. Magazine (2,753 feet); and Devil’s Den, which includes caves and bluffs. Eureka Springs in the Ozarks has nearly 65 springs.

There’s an old folk saying about the Ozark Mountains: “It’s not that the mountains are so high, it’s just that the valleys are so deep”.

The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas are a heavily eroded plateau, pushed up eons ago and carved out by hundreds of streams over thousands of years. Nature worked wonders, and today the diversity of these highlands is endless.

The rugged beauty and fascinating natural wonders of the Ozark Mountain Region provide visitors with an exciting and inspiring array of outdoor adventures.

Lovely Ozark mountain towns and villages offer unique shops, historical sites, museums, and some of the best ‘down-home cooking’ in the nation. Chances are, whenever you visit the Arkansas Ozarks, one of their famous festivals or community celebrations will be in full swing.

Bull Shoals Dam

The free-flowing Buffalo National River. Photo courtesy freshare.net

Bull Shoals Dam, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project, located in north central Arkansas on the Missouri-Arkansas state line was completed in 1951. It is the fifth largest concrete dam in the United States.

Bull Shoals Lake

Including the portion located in Missouri, Bull Shoals Lake totals some 45,500 surface acres of clear blue water. Almost 1,000 miles of rugged mountain shoreline is open to visitors and 60,000 acres of public land provide a variety of opportunities for family, fishing, and group vacations.

Glass smooth surfaces make Bull Shoals Lake perfect for clear water skiing and wake boarding. The lake’s incredible visibility for scuba diving has earned it the title, “The Caribbean of the Midwest”. Visitors enjoy sailing, skiing, and boating on the hundreds of miles of lake arms and coves.

Over 20 parks developed through the cooperative efforts of local, state, and federal agencies are located on the lakeshore. These have both camping and picnicking facilities. There are grills, firewood, tables, and drinking water at the picnic sites. Commercial docks on the lake have boats, motors, and guides for hire.

Norfork Lake

Located on the North Fork River in the Ozark highlands, the magnificent Norfork Lake covers some 22,000 acres and features deep, clear waters with more than 550 miles of shoreline. There are 19 developed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks that provide ample opportunities for camping and water sports. Boating, water skiing, diving, and swimming are all extremely popular on the lake. Commercial docks on the lake have boats, motors, guides, and equipment for diving.

Worth Pondering…
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

The winds will flow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

—John Muir

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