With school starting in the near future, the kids may be restless. Possibly your significant other is bored. A visitor from another state may wonder what is so special about Arkansas.
Here are one person’s suggestions for late summer enjoyment and activities in the outdoors. The list is in no particular order of priority.
Blanchard Springs Caverns. Described in more detail on this page.
Talimena Scenic Drive. From Talihina, Okla., to Mena, Ark., or vice versa, it is miles of mountain scenery uninterrupted by commercial developments. Queen Wilhelmina State Park is a highlight worth spending some time or overnighting at its lodge with restaurant or in its campground.
Arkansas Post. Our state began here after the Revolutionary War’s only battle west of the Mississippi River. The visitor center is a lesson in history. Wildlife abounds, but be careful around the water since alligators are much in residence.
Petit Jean Mountain. Close to Conway and Faulkner County, it is easy to see why the first state park was established here. Hiking, picnicking, camping, a lodge, a restaurant, even fishing are additions to the abundant history and ample scenery.
Mount Magazine. Highest point in Arkansas, and it received a shot in arm for public use when it became a state park just a few years back. Overlooks are stopping points. The spectacular lodge with restaurant featuring good views and remarkable views are attractions.
White Rock Mountain. Reached north of Mulberry by Arkansas Highway 215, the view from the top is major league beautiful, especially at sunset. Old, but restored cabins and a campground are available for overnighting, but remember that this is bear country.
Big Dam Bridge. Walk, jog or bicycle over Murray Dam on the Arkansas River at the edge of Little Rock and North Little Rock. Reasonable fitness is needed for a roundtrip, and you have a chance for looking down on a riverboat and barge tow.
Buffalo River. This should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list of things to do. The nation’s first national river has canoeing, hiking, backpacking, horse riding, fishing and hunting opportunities. Seeing an elk in the wild is a special bonus.
Arkansas Highway 7. From the Missouri border and Peel Ferry to the Louisiana line, there is scenery all the way and especially on the Jasper to Dover segment. Dardanelle to Hot Springs is not at all a slough with its scenery also. Do not hurry on this drive.
Trout fishing. Big federal dams took away native mountain stream fishing, and what replace it has become world renown. Rainbow trout, brown trout and other varieties thrive in the White River and Little Red River as well as in some other spots.
Peach picking. From June to September, peaches are an Arkansas highlight. Many orchards offer pick-your-own at reasonable rates. Buy peaches at roadside stands if you prefer, then head home or to a campground for scrumptious desserts.
Ozark Folk Center. Just outside Mountain View, this is a state park of a decidedly different sort. Handcrafts from the past are demonstrated with some of them hands-on for visitors. Musical shows most evenings. Lodging and a restaurant are close at hand.
All right, a dozen doesn’t cover everything. You may have a favorite outing not on this list. Just get out and enjoy them.