|Riding the Talimena Scenic Drive
near Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
Every road to an Arkansas state park is a scenic route. Some routes even have “scenic” in their name. As you explore the highways and byways of Arkansas, The Natural State, experience the State Parks of Arkansas, too. Connect to these natural and historic treasures and make memories that will last a lifetime.
In the Ozark National Forest, climb the winding Mount Magazine Scenic Byway that traverses 2,753-foot Mount Magazine, Arkansas’s highest mountain, and enjoy Mount Magazine State Park and its breathtaking views. The magnificent Lodge at Mount Magazine, the park’s resort mountain lodge, stretches along the south bluff. Large windows in the lodge’s Skycrest Restaurant frame the view of the Petit Jean River Valley and distant Blue Mountain Lake below. All 60 guest rooms, many with a balcony, and the park’s 13 cabins with covered decks and outdoor hot tubs share the same bluff and its sweeping views.
The Boston Mountains Scenic Loop in northwest Arkansas consists of two state scenic byways—U.S. 71 and I-540. Take in the spectacular views here in the highest portion of the Ozarks. Nestled in lush, picturesque valleys are Devil’s Den State Park and Lake Fort Smith State Park. In Lee Creek Valley, Devil’s Den features campsites and CCC/Rustic-style park architecture including cabins built in the 1930s that mirror the valley’s rugged natural beauty. Lake Fort Smith State Park offers all new facilities including campsites, cabins, and group lodges with dining hall. The park offers access to the clear waters of Lake Fort Smith.
Follow Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway stretching north-south from Harrison, Arkansas, to the Louisiana state line and enjoy more unforgettable scenery in the Ozark Mountains and the Ouachita Mountain range, too. Along Arkansas Scenic 7 enjoy five state parks. In the Arkansas River Valley between the two mountain ranges, Lake Dardanelle State Park is situated where the waters of the Arkansas River form Lake Dardanelle. Like Mount Magazine, there are two more mesa-like mountains to explore that are also home to Arkansas state parks. Mount Nebo State Park graces the top of biblically named, 1,350-foot Mount Nebo. Hwy 155 up the mountain zigzags with tight hairpin curves. Cabins and campsites carry forth the long vacation history of this beloved mountain. Sweeping views of the Arkansas River Valley include Lake Dardanelle. Mount Nebos’ Sunrise Point and Sunset Point are must see’s. Nearby, Petit Jean State Park atop legendary Petit Jean Mountain features interesting geologic features, outstanding scenery including a 95-foot waterfall, and rustic-style native stone and log facilities constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Historic Mather Lodge, the park’s mountain lodge and restaurant, overlooks rugged Cedar Creek Canyon. The westward view from the bluff is highlighted by a dramatic sunset each evening. Park cabins are nearby and campsites just a short drive east. Farther south on Scenic 7, DeGray Lake Resort, Arkansas’s resort state park, is a water sports and golf resort featuring an island lodge and restaurant with sweeping views of the lake and lakeshore campsites. And, the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources and its state-of-the-art exhibits tell the stories of the discovery of black gold in south Arkansas.
|Enjoying the scenic view from the Cameron Bluff Overlook Drive
at Mount Magazine State Park.
Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains are one of only two mountain ranges in the U.S. that run east-west. Travel the 54-mile Talimena Scenic Drive along ridge tops and take in the expansive views of the surrounding Ouachita National Forest. Pull-offs and scenic overlooks give you the opportunity to stop awhile and soak it all in. The Drive stretches from Mena, Arkansas, to Talihina, Oklahoma. The crowning attraction on this national scenic byway is Queen Wilhelmina State Park featuring “Arkansas’s Castle in the Clouds” and it’s Queen’s Restaurant. This modern mountain inn is the third hostelry to grace this same setting with its panoramic views from atop 2,681-foot Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest mountain. [NOTE: Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge is closed until late 2014 while undergoing a major renovation.]
Eastern Arkansas lies within the nation's largest alluvial plain, a vast flatland leveled over time by the erosive floods, deposits of silt, and course changes of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Elevated above the Delta’s flat expanse, Crowley's Ridge, a geologic anomaly, rises as much as 200 feet. It was formed when the ancestral Mississippi and Ohio rivers eroded away the land on each side and deposits of wind-blown soils added height to the remnant ridge. Travel the Crowley's Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway and explore six state parks. Lake Frierson State Park, Crowley’s Ridge State Park, Lake Poinsett State Park, Village Creek State Park, Louisiana Purchase State Park and Mississippi River State Park.While exploring eastern Arkansas, travel the Great River Road which follows the course of the Mississippi River. In the southeastern corner of the state, visit Lake Chicot State Park and the natural beauty of Arkansas’s largest natural lake, a 20-mile long oxbow.
This sampling and so much more awaits you. Arkansas’s 52 state parks give you “52 Reasons to Ride.” The state’s most popular scenic routes and roads less traveled link them. Experience the distinctive beauty of spring or the sun-soaked days of summer. Be captivated fall’s blazing autumn leaves or the wide open views in winter when Arkansas’s forests are at rest. Find your reason here at: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/park-finder/.