Arkansas July 10, 2017
The 10 Best Backroads In Arkansas For A Long Scenic Drive
Sometimes the best way to get some peace of mind is to take a long, tranquil drive through the countryside. The new highways that have been built have had an interesting impact on some of those roads we thought of as big time highways when we were kids. Moving the traffic to shiny new roads, like I-49, for example, has left the old highways relatively empty. That’s good news for those of us who love driving, because a back road no longer has to mean the possibility of a rough-going dirt road. These days we can take the ten highways below and find just the perfect road to drive away our troubles.
1. Mount Magazine Scenic Byway (Highway 309)
Highway 309 has some pretty great views, mostly because it’s on Arkansas’s tallest mountain. The Mount Magazine Scenic Byway has ample opportunities to pull over and stretch your legs while taking in truly breathtaking scenic vistas. You can follow the signs from Paris to check out this stunning drive.
2. Boston Mountain Scenic Route (Highway 71)
Highway 71 used to be the main thoroughfare between the river valley and Fayetteville, but since I-49 has been around, 71 isn’t exactly a bustling speedway. If you get on at Alma and drive north as far as you want to go, you’re going to see the best of the Boston Mountains on your way to nowhere.
3. The Great River Road
You can’t take the entire Great River Road in Arkansas. That’s because it’s a national scenic byway that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to northern Minnesota, following the Mississippi River for over 3,000 miles. Since the Mississippi forms the eastern border of the Natural State, you can travel a good chunk of the Great River Road in Arkansas. That road is going to take you through the prettiest alluvial plain in the world, the stunning Arkansas Delta.
You can learn more about the Arkansas leg of the national byway
4. Talimena National Scenic Byway
We can’t fault the Talimena Scenic Byway for beginning in Oklahoma. Lots of good things have begun in Oklahoma…okay, I’m actually coming up blank on those things. Anyway, the Talimena drive runs from Tallahina, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas, and no matter which direction you choose to drive it, you’ll be treated to some of the prettiest country in the Ouachitas.
5. Crowley’s Ridge Parkway
Crowley’s Ridge Parkway is a national scenic byway that will take you 198 miles through the Arkansas Delta. It follows the path of a unique geological formation, Crowley’s Ridge, which is the Delta’s only "highlands." This parkway is an incredible way to explore a unique part of the Natural State’s natural beauty.
6. The Pig Trail (Highway 23)
The Pig Trail has been a favorite of bikers for a long time now, and since it’s basically a tree tunnel running through the Boston Mountain portion of the Ozarks, it’s no wonder folks love it. The Ozark National Forest makes for a beautiful place to wander, and Highway 23 cuts right through it. For the best results, get on at Ozark and drive north until you can’t drive anymore.
7. Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway (Highway 21)
If you’re thinking about getting out and stretching your legs at the end of your drive, I suggest Highway 21. The Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway ends near the Buffalo National River, and it crosses many headwaters and ridges in the Ozark National Forest along the way. To get the best out of your long drive, get on the highway just north of Clarksville.
8. Highway 7
If you’re thinking you need a road trip to the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t agree more—but I’m going to direct you to the Arkansas Grand Canyon. You can see that gorgeous greenery right from the road on Highway 7, just south of Jasper. You can get on Highway 7 at El Dorado and follow it all the way up to Jasper, but really you can hop on that highway just about anywhere and enjoy a long and winding drive.
9. Highway 59
If you get on Highway 59 at Van Buren, you’ll notice the part in town is pretty over-developed. Have no fear, however, as you’re going to drive away from town pretty quickly and you won’t run into another proper town for a long time. Highway 59 north of Van Buren winds through a gorgeous portion of the Ozarks. Bonus: Stop off and stretch your legs at Natural Dam’s lovely waterfall.
10. Highway 123
Highway 123 is a gorgeous road that runs through Johnson, Pope, and Newton Counties. The road winds through the mountains with so many switchbacks that big trucks aren’t allowed on it. It will take you through some absolutely incredible forest views, but you’ll want to keep your eyes on the road for those curves.
For one lonely road you have to try,
click here. You might also want to check out these absolutely serene places in Arkansas.