The Natural State has millions of acres of forested land, and millions of wonders hiding in those forests. Over half the state is covered with trees, glades, and glorious places you can explore. Below you’ll find some of the most unexpected places hiding in Arkansas’s forests. From restaurants to chapels to natural wonders, these are 11 places you might not expect to find on your adventures in the woods.
1. Thorncrown Chapel
Located in Eureka Springs, Thorncrown Chapel is one of the most famous manmade wonders in the Natural State. Architect E. Fay Jones focused on bringing the light and color of the outdoors inside, and that feat is beautifully accomplished in this exceptional chapel.
2. A Waterfall Paradise (Richland Creek Wilderness)
Richland Creek Wilderness has been called a waterfall paradise by numerous hiking gurus and publications. In this beautiful, rustic spot you’ll find a number of gorgeous waterfalls, including Punchbowl Falls and Six Finger Falls, pictured above.
3. Rush Ghost Town
Located in Buffalo National River Park, Rush was once a thriving part of the zinc mining industry. When the mine was tapped out, the people of Rush went in search of greener pastures. What remains of Rush is a stunning ghost town that is now disappearing into the forest all around it.
4. A Nearly Extinct Bird (Ivory-Billed Woodpecker)
It was thought that habitat destruction and hunting had rendered the large Ivory Billed Woodpecker wiped totally extinct. That is until one was discovered in the forests near the tiny Arkansas Delta town of Brinkley in 2004. Folks still aren’t sure about the population levels of the rare woodpecker, but if you’re going to find one anywhere in the world, it’s most likely going to be in the Natural State.
5. Dinosaurs (Dinosaur World)
Once a popular theme park, Dinosaur World has been abandoned for over a decade now. From 1969 until 2005, families enjoyed this cool park and its awesome dinosaurs. Today, however, those dinosaurs are being reclaimed by the forest near Eureka Springs.
6. Indian Rockhouse Cave
Prehistoric tribes of Native Americans once lived in an overhang shelter in the area of the Buffalo National River. What was once shelter for bluff-dwelling people is now an awesome cave waiting to be explored out in the woods. It's called Indian Rockhouse Cave, and though there are no longer any artifacts, there is still a gorgeous cave for you to explore.
7. Little Grand Canyon (White Oak Lake State Park)
Arkansas’s Little Grand Canyon is truly a unique place. There’s nowhere quite like it in the Natural State. Set in southwest Arkansas’s White Oak Lake State Park, the little canyon is the perfect place to explore if you’re into cool rock formations. White Oak Lake State Park is one of the most underrated state parks in Arkansas, and the Little Grand Canyon is just one reason why.
8. The Tallest Waterfall in the Central United States (Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls)
Near the Ponca Wilderness Area, Hemmed-In-Hollow Falls reaches a height of 209 feet. It’s the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and Appalachia. It’s quite a hike to reach this waterfall because it really is hiding out in the wilderness, but it’s well worth the journey.
9. Pedestal Rocks
Set near Witts Springs, Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area is a gorgeous place where you can see incredible rock formations rising up out of the forest. There’s a loop trail that’s about two miles long, and it offers you views like you’ve never seen of truly unique natural features. It’s a surprising place to find in the wilderness, and it’s one you’re going to love.
10. Toad Suck Buck’s
If you’re looking for the best steak in Arkansas, you need to drive out into the woods near the central Arkansas community of Houston. This little eatery is hiding out in the middle of nowhere, and that seclusion adds to its charm—well, that and the truly delicious food they serve there.
11. Natural Dam
On Highway 59 between the towns of Van Buren and Cedarville you’ll find a natural feature unlike any other in the forests of the Ozarks. Natural Dam is exactly what it sounds like—it’s a naturally occurring dam that is also a gorgeous waterfall. You can drive right up to Natural Dam. It requires absolutely no hiking to experience.