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There’s a good reason that Arkansas is called The Natural State, having 9,000 miles of crystal clear streams and rivers, over 600,000 acres of lakes and 2.9 million acres stretching across three national forests. You’ll rarely breathe air crisper or cleaner than that found in the Ozarks and Ouachita mountains. Arkansas is also a great place to enjoy some of the best blues music, and in certain RV parks there are “pickin’ sheds” where locals gather every day for impromptu bluegrass jam sessions.
Starting in the fast-growing city of Rogers, we explore the nearby Beaver Lake, which is just ten minutes outside of downtown Rogers and is an ideal spot for fishing. In fact, this lake is renowned for being a great place to catch striper, largemouth bass and catfish.
The War Eagle Mill is an interesting place to visit and is just a quick jaunt 13 miles east of Rogers on Highway 12. The mill was built in 1838, then washed away by a flood. It was rebuilt, but was burned down by Confederate forces during the Civil War. The sound foundation remained and was rebuilt again in the early 70s, and remains a working grist mill. In the spring and fall, the fields around the mill play host to the War Eagle Craft Fair, which draws thousands of people every year.
Leaving Rogers and heading northeast on Highway 62, travel 34 miles to the town of Eureka Springs. It’s a unique city, situated between two hardwood forests, and has beautiful Victorian architecture. Historically, the local Native American tribes believed that the waters had healing properties and the land around them was sacred ground. Nearby Cosmic Cavern is one of the warmest caves in the Ozarks, with a constant temperature of 62 degrees, and divers have never found the bottom of the cave’s lakes.
Eureka Springs’ historic downtown area is filled with shops, art galleries, homes and cottages, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in America. The area can be easily seen via trolley tours or by foot; seeing it at night will truly transport you back in time at least 100 years, with festivities and music to be enjoyed everywhere you look.
From April to October, Eureka Springs also hosts the Great Passion Play, which has the distinction of being America’s #1-attended outdoor drama. The Play has a cast of hundreds, performing in historically accurate outdoor settings; if for no other reason, the Passion Play should be seen for the sheer magnificence of the production spectacle. Related attractions include the Christ of the Ozarks statue, a visually stunning masterpiece of sculpture that weighs over two million pounds. The statue’s hands alone measure seven feet from wrist to fingertip. The city also hosts a Holy Land Tour, with nearly 40 exhibits that have been meticulously researched for authenticity.
We can also relax on an hour-long cruise of Beaver Lake on the vessel Belle of the Ozarks, which gives us views of sacred Native American burial grounds, as well as a submerged Indian homestead. The cruise takes us around a 200-acre game preserve island, where deer can sometimes be seen swimming in the lake. Check out the cruise’s website at
for booking information. Reservations are recommended.
We head southwest on Highway 62, reluctantly leaving Eureka Springs, and drive one hundred and twenty miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in Arkansas. We conclude our trip in Mountain View, which has the honor of being the home of Blanchard Springs Caverns. Life Magazine has proclaimed these caverns as being “one of the most extraordinary finds of this century.” It’s a living cave, still in the process of formation, and has two paved, lighted trails accessible to all visitors. The trails wind past an underground river and the world’s largest flowstone. Blanchard Springs pours out of the mountainside into Mirror Lake, and makes for a great place to fish for rainbow trout.
The Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View is a one-of-a-kind state park dedicated to the preservation of Ozark heritage. Live demonstrations and workshops relate the story of this rich mountain culture. A self-guided tour takes us through ongoing displays of blacksmithing, candle making, quilting, wood carving and a plethora of other indigenous crafts. Local musicians perform ballads, square dances and the like with a variety of instruments such as the fiddle and autoharp.
Speaking of music, the Mountain View Bluegrass Festival is a three-day event in mid-March and mid-November, which attracts artists from all around and is a unique listening experience that features both indoor and outdoor performances. It also features plenty of food and friendly people, so if you’re in the area during the Festival, be sure not to miss out.
Before we leave Mountain View, we should head over to the Buffalo River, which flows freely for roughly 150 miles and is an excellent place to go floating. The lower Buffalo River is about 40 miles outside of Mountain View; we can rent gear from any of several local outfitters and drift along the river, enjoying the peaceful serenity and the beautiful views of the majestic bluffs overhead. It’s a fantastic way to wrap up our vacation getaway.
Considering its majestic natural beauty, along with its diverse cultural background and historical significance, it’s easy to see why Arkansas draws visitors from all across our nation and overseas. One can return here again and again, and draw everlasting peace and comfort from the lush beauty of this exquisite Natural State.