[title subtitle=”words Marla Cantrell
images and certain content courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism”][/title]
Lucky. That’s what we are because we live in Arkansas, a state where fall shines. Step outside, see the brightly colored leaves and you’ll likely get weak in the knees. Even better, take a road trip to see miles of trees awash in yellow, red, and orange.
The color change begins this month in the Ozarks and moves slowly south, reaching its peak in late October and early November. Maples, sumac, sweet gum, oak, sassafras and hickory all change color, and with two-and-a-half million acres ofnational forests in Arkansas, you’re sure to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
Boston Mountain Scenic Loop
US Highway 71 and Interstate 49
If you take the Alma exit and head north on Highway 71, you’ll get the up close and personal effect of this old, winding highway. See the majesty of the trees that line the roadway, stop at Artist’s Point museum and gift shop, and take advantage of the overlook, where you’re likely to find dozens of tourists taking photos of the mountains above and the valley below. If you’re hungry, stop at Grandma’s House in Winslow, and support local artists by visiting Ozark Folkways, also in Winslow.
Mount Magazine Scenic Byway
Arkansas Highway 309
Mount Magazine, at 2,753 feet, is the highest peak in Arkansas, and one of the most photographed. Once there, you’ll see the state park, lodge, visitors center, restaurant and cabins. Mount Magazine has become one of the “it” places to get married because of the expansive views of Blue Mountain Lake, the Ouachita Mountains, the River Valley and the Ozark Mountains. Make sure to stop by the visitors center to learn about the wildlife in the area, and visit the Mount Magazine Lodge for a bite to eat. Their hamburgers are delicious.
Pig Trail Scenic Byway
Arkansas Highways 16 and 23
A favorite for experienced motorcycle riders, the Pig Trail is one of the most scenic and colorful routes in the state. You’ll wind through the Ozark Mountains at Ozark (stop and eat at Rivertowne BBQ at 205 South 3rd Street if you have a chance) and end in Fayetteville. Check to see if there’s a Razorback home game if you’re traveling on Saturday, as this road fills up quickly with Hog fans.
This road runs fifty-four miles along the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest and spans one of the highest mountain ranges between the Appalachians and the Rockies. One breathtaking panorama follows another as this national scenic byway winds along forested mountain tops between Mena and Talihina, Oklahoma. A popular stop is Queen Wilhelmina State Park atop Rich Mountain. The trails and campgrounds are open; however, the lodge, restaurant, and restrooms are closed for renovation. The major remodel will be complete in the spring of 2015.
Scenic Byway 7
The state designated route is from the Arkansas/Missouri state line, south through Harrison, Russellville, Hot Springs and Arkadelphia, and on through El Dorado to the border with Louisiana. Along the way, you’ll pass through the Grand Canyon of the Ozarks at Jasper, cross over the Buffalo National River, cruise through Hot Springs National Park, drive across DeGray Lake, and visit one of the most charming downtown squares in the state at El Dorado. If you have time, make reservations at the Quapaw Baths and Spa at Hot Springs National Park for a soak in the thermal mineral water pools the area is famous for.
This southbound route between Little Rock and Pine Bluff goes through the rich timberlands of South Arkansas. Bottomland hardwoods provide brilliant color.