On Monday, we asked you, through our Facebook and Twitter pages, where would you tell someone to visit if it was their first time exploring the Natural State. Out of the 85 responses we received, here are your top 5 answers:
This beautiful park on Arkansas’s highpoint features miles and miles of hiking trails, a state-of-the-art visitors center, camping, scenic overlooks, and of course, the Lodge at Mount Magazine. Although the highpoint, Signal Hill, is in a forest area without a view, there are many trails and roads which will take adventurers to some of the most stunning views in the state. For a rugged hike with spectacular views, check out the North Rim Trail which goes from the visitor center to the campground. Also, take a drive or bike ride on Cameron Bluff Drive with its magnificent overlooks. For the more adventuresome visitors, try a hiking trip from Cove Lake near the base on the north side and hike/backpack to the top. If you would like to spoil yourself, spend a night in the lodge or one of the 13 cabins. Each room and cabin features a view off the south face of the mountain of the Petit Jean River Valley and the distant Ouachita Mountains. You also may catch a sighting of a hang glider as they launch from a site near the cabins. You can also replenish your energy at the Skycrest Restaurant in the lodge.
4. Razorback Regional Greenway Trail – 5.88%
The Razorback Regional Greenway Trail may have been in several voters minds because of our recent article exploring this ribbon of trail which connects most of the towns and cities in Northwest Arkansas. Whether used for recreation, shopping, going to school, medical needs, visiting museums, connecting restaurants, bars and breweries, commuting to work or just for the heck of it, the Greenway is a fun, easy way to get around in a growing area. It’s also a great way to get to some beautiful mountain bike trails. As a matter of fact, the Greenway goes from Fayetteville, an International Mountain Bicycling Ride Center to Bentonville, another IMBA Ride Center and is now the centerpiece of the first IMBA Regional Ride Center, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Ride Center.
Lake Ouachita is the largest lake completely within the borders of Arkansas and very centrally located. Known as one of the Diamond Lakes, Ouachita is one of the cleaner lakes in the country, a perfect place to do some inland scuba diving. The 200-plus islands in the lake are popular for picnics and camping by those enjoying the waters. Managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, Lake Ouachita provides unique and extensive recreational opportunities. Along its shores lie several resorts and marinas, Corps of Engineer campgrounds and Lake Ouachita State Park. Along it’s southern shores is the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail and just north of the lake is the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, both are International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic Trails. Besides the resorts and state park, lodging and restaurants are plentiful in nearby Hot Springs.
2. An International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic Trail (Womble, Syllamo, LOViT, Upper Buffalo) – 9.41%
In the course of asking this question and putting out the results, Arkansas grew another Epic Trail, the Ouachita National Recreation Trail can now be added to the list of incredible and diverse Arkansas Epics. With the addition of the ONRT, Arkansas now boasts almost 250 miles of some of the best mountain biking in the country. While the Upper Buffalo and Syllamo, in the Ozarks are trail systems with several connected loops providing varying difficulty, the Womble, Lake Ouachita Visita Trail and Ouachita NRT are all linear trails and all happen to pass through Montgomery County, Arkansas, the only county in the country with more than one Epic, and it has three. This puts Arkansas on the map as tied for the number 2 position in number of Epics in the United States, California has 7 and second is shared with Colorado which also has 5. If you know someone who rides mountain bikes, tell them about this.
1. Buffalo National River – 47.06%
Almost half the respondents placed the Buffalo National River as the Number One outdoor destination to recommend to people visiting the state, and for good reason. The National River designation by the National Park Service was created because of the Buffalo. With it’s towering bluffs, crystal clear water and moderate flow, it’s the perfect place for almost any paddling skill level. Along it’s banks are spectacular waterfalls including the tallest waterfall between the Appalachian and Rockies, Hemmed-in-Hollow. The history of the area is evident in the abandoned homesteads and towns along the river corridor. All accessible through several hiking trails that crisscross the park. Camping is allowed on the gravel bars along the river or at designated campgrounds in the area. Buffalo Point, once a state park that was turned over to the National Park System in the 1970s, has cabins, camping and some great trails that take hikers to some of the caves in the area.
Get in on our next questionnaire, we’ll publish the results next week.