Nothing is better than a good old fashioned Arkansas adventure, and nothing pleases residents of the natural state more than feeling like they’ve had one. Here you’ll find a list of 16 adventures that you can find in your backyard. You’ll love every one of these once-in-a-lifetime expeditions.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. View the savanna at Wild Wilderness Wildlife Safari in Gentry.
This safari is a 400-acre park that houses a myriad of exotic animals. From the grassland herds to the friendly giraffes and adorable goats in the petting portion of the park, your whole family will love this adventure.
2. Search for an elusive bird at Bayou DeView near Brinkley.
Bayou DeView is a beautiful and unique part of the delta terrain, and you may find the rare ivory-billed woodpecker lurking in those thick trees. This is the ultimate Arkansas destination for birding, and whether you’re a seasoned bird seeker or a novice, you’ll have a great time looking through the timbered bayou.
3. View Big Bluff from the Buffalo National River.
Big Bluff is a gorgeous part of the Buffalo National River experience, and you won’t want to miss this beautiful, towering formation. If you’re feeling up for a bit of strenuous and tricky climb, you can reach the top of the bluff from Goat Trail. Do be careful if you opt to do Goat Trail, though. That place is dangerous.
4. Do everything at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch near Jasper.
Horseshoe Canyon is a renowned rock-climbing destination, and Horseshoe Canyon Ranch offers guided rock-climbing trips. If that seems a little extreme, don’t worry. You can also ride the trails on horseback, swim in the pool, canoe the Buffalo, go caving, practice your archery or sharp shooting, or visit the petting zoo. There really is something for everyone there.
5. Take an excursion train through the Ozarks on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad.
These refurbished antique passengers cars and coaches offer a step back in time and have many trip options for rail riders. You can travel from Springdale to Van Buren and from Fort Smith to Winslow in style. For a complete list of excursions, visit amrailroad.com.
6. Embrace your wild side at Turpentine Creek near Eureka Springs.
For a walk on the wild side, visit this beautiful big cat rescue. You’ll find more than tigers and lions there, however. You’ll also find bears, monkeys, and smaller cats, too. If you’re interested in sleeping near wild things, try out one of their amazing tree houses.
7. Hike to some magic at Glory Hole Falls near Fallsville.
If you’re up for a moderate hike, you’ve got to see Glory Hole. This truly unique waterfall happened because water drilled through the rock ledge instead of cascading off the side. This is a spot you’ve absolutely got to see for yourself.
8. Hunt for history at Old Spanish Treasure Cave near Sulphur Springs.
Rumors and myths abound about the treasure allegedly hidden in this cave by Spanish explorers, and myth is definitely part of the draw. Today you’ll find the cave a friendly atmosphere with a well lit cavern, guided tours, and a place to pan for treasure.
9. Find endless wonder at Cosmic Cavern near Berryville
Cosmic Cavern is home to two underground, “bottomless” lakes. They’re called bottomless because no one has yet found the end to them. The cavern is a cool 64 degrees year round, a the guided tour takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. This place is full of wonder, so you’ll want to have an adventure there.
10. Mine for quartz crystals at Sweet Surrender Crystal Mine near Mount Ida.
This mine is in the breathtaking Ouachita mountain range, and it’s in the heart of the Quartz Crystal Capital of the World. It’s a primitive site, so make sure you bring your own gear and digging equipment. It’s a working mine, too, so you’ll want to pay attention when they teach you the rules.
11. Stay on an island in Lake Ouachita.
There are well over a hundred uninhabited islands in Lake Ouachita, and they’re perfect for primitive camping in solitude. An additional draw here is that Lake Ouachita is the most pristine lake in Arkansas and renowned all over for those crystal clear waters. Visit the untouched beauty of those islands, and just try not to feel like a boss adventurer after you sleep under the stars.
12. Explore unique ecosystems at Cane Creek State Park near Star City.
Cane Creek State Park is where the terrain of the West Gulf Coastal Plain and the alluvial lands of Arkansas’s Mississippi Delta meet. You get to experience both unique ecosystems at this awesome park. Cane Creek is a gorgeous timbered delta lake where you can row and explore, and part of the world’s largest bayou, Bayou Bartholomew can also be found there.
13. Discover some amazing history at Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in Wilson.
At this unique five acre state park, you’ll find artifacts that predate European settlement in Arkansas. The artifacts are from the Nodena Site, a Native American settlement along the Mississippi River. The collection is world-renowned, and right here in our home state.
14. Cool off and chill out at DeGray Lake Resort State Park near Arkadelphia.
DeGray Lake Resort is located in the foothills of the Ouachitas, and it’s known for its crystal clear waters. You’ll find the lodge there located on its own island. At this state park, you can find secluded coves for fishing, beautiful waters for swimming, boating, and snorkeling, and luxurious beaches where you can sit back and relax.
15. Go out to look for elk in Boxley Valley.
First you might want to visit the Ponca Elk Education Center, where you’ll learn all about the elk in Arkansas. The best place to find the herd is near the Buffalo National River. The truth is, you might creep quietly along and never see an elk, but trust us, you’ll have a good time anyway because the area surrounding the Buffalo National River is astounding.
16. Hike to Triple (Twin) Falls near Harrison.
These falls are located at Camp Orr Boy Scout Camp just south of Harrison. It’s technically called Twin Falls, but high water adds another gorgeous fall. This is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Arkansas, but it's even more spectacular when you see it with your own eyes.