Visiting Arkansas on Your Next Road Trip
The self-proclaimed “Natural State,” Arkansas delivers with a real outdoor lovers’ paradise. With fantastic Arkansas campgrounds and RV Camping Resorts, Pine and hardwood forests, surprising mountain peaks, rolling rivers and valleys, chilly caverns, pristine lakes, and a genuine diamond mine are just a few of the recreational treasures that await Arkansas’ visitors.
Another north central attraction in Arkansas is the Buffalo National River, accessible at Buffalo Point or Tyler Bend. America’s first federally protected stream provides the region’s best float trips as it propels whitewater paddlers on a winding course through the Ozarks and into the White River. Buffalo boasts the Ozark’s tallest bluffs as well as middle America’s highest waterfall, at Hemmed-in-Hollow. The river’s guests see boxy canyons, caverns, swimming hole hideaways and bubbling springs. Quiet wildlife watchers see an occasional black bear and those who are most observant catch a glimpse of Arkansas’ lone elk herd.
Another north central wonder that takes its guests down under is Blanchard Springs Caverns near Mountain View. This subterranean world of crystalline configurations is praised as one of North America’s top 10 caves. Blanchard is the only developed cavern system under the auspices of the U.S. Forest Service and it has been carefully preserved as a “living cave” during almost 30 years of public visitation. The caverns’ stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstones are in a continuous state of flux due to minerals left behind by dripping water. Park staffers offer two cavern tours, one of which is wheelchair and stroller accessible and both of which take place in lighted underground areas on comfortable, paved trails. In addition to the cave scene, the park features Blanchard Springs, a clear rush of water that’s named for the area’s original homesteader.
Hot Springs National Park in downtown Hot Springs is in central Arkansas’ Quachita Mountain country. The park was developed to protect the same waters of 47 hot springs that local folks have prized for centuries as healing bathwater. The centerpiece here is the Fordyce Bathhouse, a National Historic Landmark and current site of the visitor center containing reproductions of the splendid, 1915 Hot Springs bathhouses. Today’s visitors can dip into thermal baths and view a basement-level exhibit of the Fordyce Spring. Hot Springs National Park also offers scenic mountain drives and hiking trails eventually leading visitors into the Quachita range’s shady forests. Visitors can also enjoy dozens of Arkansas campgrounds and Arkansas RV Camping Resorts nearby.
In the southwest on Arkansas’ Gulf coastal plains in Murfreesboro, Crater of Diamonds State Park is the world’s one and only public diamond mine. More than 75,000 diamonds have been uncovered on Crater of Diamonds’ 37-acre volcanic field, with several of them earning high ratings from the American Gem Society. Finders are keepers at this jewel prospector’s field of dreams, which is actually the weather-beaten exterior of an ancient volcanic, gem-producing pipe. And it’s readily accessible via the park visitor center, where guests can learn how to spot rough-cut diamonds before they try out their mining skills. For those who prefer more colorful “rocks,” agates, garnets and amethysts are some of the alternate finds at the Crater of Diamonds. duke energy customer service