Arkansas is nicknamed The Natural State due to its abundant forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and wildlife. For nature enthusiasts and lovers of the outdoors, Arkansas offers countless options for climbing, hiking, kayaking, and more.
National and State Parks
Arkansas is home to seven national, 52 state parks, and plenty of other wilderness areas that showcase its natural beauty.
Mount Magazine State Park, which includes the highest point in Arkansas, offers visitors stunning views, hiking trails, and camping areas, as well as mountain biking, horseback riding, hang gliding, and ATV riding. A wide variety of programs led by park interpreters highlights the mountain’s diverse ecosystem.
Ouachita National Forest is the oldest and largest National Forest in the southern United States. A vast and federally protected area covering more than 1.8 million acres across Arkansas and Oklahoma, the forest includes multiple developed recreation areas, vistas, shooting ranges, historical sites, and wilderness areas.
In Eastern Arkansas, Crowley’s Ridge is a geological formation that rises out of the otherwise flat Delta region. The landform is an erosional remnant of the Ice Age, carved out over millions of years by torrential rains. Crowley’s Ridge is characterized by upland hardwood forests, farmland, orchards, and a variety of recreational and historical resources. Seven state parks lie along the Parkway, which also passes through the St. Francis National Forest and makes for one of the most memorable motorcycle rides in the state.
Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas’s first State Park, is a certified Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Site. Rising 1,120 feet above the Arkansas River Valley, Petit Jean Mountain offers sweeping views and overlooks of Ada Valley below. The Cedar Falls Overlook is a vantage point high above 95-foot Cedar Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls in Arkansas.
A few of the many other popular parks throughout the state include Hot Springs National Park, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Crater of Diamonds State Park, Devil’s Den State Park, Mississippi River State Park, and White River National Wildlife Refuge.
Arkansas is blessed with an extensive network of rivers, streams, and lakes. The state is traversed by the Arkansas River, which provides not only recreational opportunities, but also serves as a vital water source and transportation route.
The Buffalo National River, the first National River in the United States, flows freely for more than 130 miles and is one of the few undammed rivers remaining in the United States. It passes through majestic limestone bluffs, offering visitors opportunities for hiking, camping, canoeing, and fishing.
The Cossatot River forms Cossatot Falls, a rocky canyon with Class III, IV, and V rapids that serve as the state’s premiere whitewater destination for experienced kayakers and canoeists. Cossatot River State Park includes more than 5,30 acres of rugged wooded slopes, trails, and outstanding geological features.
The White River is a nationally renowned fishing destination, particularly for trout fishing near Bull Shoals Dam. It runs approximately 720 miles through the Ozark Mountains downward into the state of Arkansas’s lower Delta region, offering scenic beauty and peaceful surroundings.
Other notable river waterways include the Caddo River, Casita River, Ouachita River, and Kings River.
Located near Hot Springs, Ark., Lake Ouachita is the state’s largest lake, providing ample space for outdoor enthusiasts to explore and enjoy. Its crystal-clear waters are perfect for a variety of water activities, including swimming, boating, and fishing. More than two-thirds of its shoreline is protected by the Ouachita National Forest.
Situated in the Ozark Mountains, Greers Ferry Lake is known for its clear blue waters and scenic beauty. The lake spans approximately 40,500 acres and is a favorite destination for boating, water skiing, fishing, and swimming.
Located in the northwest region of Arkansas, Beaver Lake is a picturesque reservoir spanning approximately nearly 30,000 acres. Surrounded by rolling hills and dense forests, it is a popular spot for fishing, boating, and camping. The lake is also known for its clear waters, making it ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Other notable Arkansas lakes include Lake Hamilton, Norfolk Lake, and Bull Shoals Lake.
Museums and Libraries
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a world-class museum located in Bentonville. Seven trails around the museum’s 120 acres offer views of the institution’s architecture, outdoor sculpture gardens, and hundreds of plants native to the region, all of which make Crystal Bridges’ grounds as much of a draw as the art collection inside.
The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum offers visitors an opportunity to explore the history and accomplishments of the Clinton presidency through interactive and rotating exhibits, displays, and multimedia presentations. The museum showcases various aspects of President Clinton’s life and career, including his early years, his political rise, his policy initiatives, and his global efforts during and after his presidency.
The Delta Cultural Center, located in historic downtown Helena, explores the unique cultural heritage of the Delta area, includingCivil War history, blues music, and the agricultural significance of the region. The center also offers public presentations and educational programming to engage visitors with the story of the Delta.
The Hemingway Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott includes the location where Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of his acclaimed war novel, A Farewell to Arms. You can tour the converted barn where the esteemed author lived, as well as the Pfeiffer family home and exhibits related to Hemingway’s time in Piggott.
Other museums and cultural touchpoints include the Southeast Arkansas Arts and Sciecne Center, the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, and the Museum of Native American History.