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Did You Know…?

  • The world’s finest quartz is found in two places: Arkansas and Brazil.
  • The waters at Hot Springs remain at a constant temperature of 143F.
  • Texarkana and its post office sit in two states; the address for the post office: Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas.
  • Crater of Diamonds is the world’s only public diamond mine; keep what you find.
  • Mammoth Spring produces about 235 million gallons of gushing cold water a day.

Mountains and spring waters

Arkansas has great beauty, and its mountain scenery forms a backdrop for some uniquely American experiences among friendly and hospitable hosts. The mountains are a draw for hikers and full of caves for the cautious cave viewer and the adventurous sort, too. Acres and acres of lakes offer the full range of water sports, and geothermal activity provides the waters for spas and some fascinating natural phenomena.

Nevertheless, Arkansas is a bit of a secret — although Bill and Hillary Clinton have brought the state into sharper focus for most Americans.

For anyone who takes a close look, the state has wide appeal, especially to those who love the outdoors and a mild climate besides. The state’s temperate winters and warm summers easily make Arkansas a year-round destination, and the state is affordable for many travelers.

Arkansas’ “natural” attractions aren’t all natural. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created major lakes throughout the northern and western regions, in the Ouachitas and the Ozarks, offering all sorts of water sports and fishing opportunities. At Hot Springs, the Catherine and Hamilton lakes were created by the Arkansas Power and Light Company. However, the mountains really are Mother Nature’s gift!

The state also boasts the Crater of Diamonds State Park, which has produced more than 75,000 diamonds in the last century, and a national scenic road, the Great River Road, which parallels the Mississippi River, the state’s eastern border. Drivers here find antebellum homes, Civil War battlefields and Helena-West Helena, the state’s principal Mississippi river port.

For those who want to go to town, or the city, choices include Hot Springs, popular for its springs and recreational activities; Eureka Springs, dubbed America’s Victorian Village for its architecture and noted for its artists and writers colony; Fort Smith, with a Wild West legacy as seen at the Fort Smith National Historic Site and its historic district; Mountain View, dubbed the folk music capital of the world, where in mild weather the town square is alive with mountain music; and, of course, Little Rock, the capital which boasts the de rigueur attractions of a city.

Things to do for Venturers

  • For action on the water, choose of these: jet skiing, parasailing, scuba diving, waterskiing, powerboating and sailing. Or, go whitewater rafting on the state’s rushing rivers, or choose canoeing on quieter waters.
  • Prospect for quartz crystal in one of several open-to-the-public mines in the Ouachita Mountains. Better yet, compete in the World Championship Quartz Crystal Dig in Mount Ida, in October. If you don’t want to dig for your own, or want something better, buy specimens in the rock shops found in the Ouachitas.
  • Take a backpacking/camping trip. The state has more than 200 publicly owned campgrounds offering 9,800 campsites.
  • Take a guided wild cave tour, offered for the physically fit. To enter some wild caves in the Ozark Mountains, permits or guides are a requirement. There also are less-difficult tours, with guides, to a broad selection of colorful show caves.
  • Try your hand at geocaching, which involves using a global positioning satellite device to find treasure (of a sort) and testing your skills at using GPS data to locate places and objects.
  • Go mountain biking in the Ozark National Forest on the 50-mile Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail, located in Mountain View. This trail has been designated by the International Mountain Biking Association as an Epic Ride, which puts it on many mountain bikers’ must-ride lists.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Ride on a vintage steam train at Eureka Springs; have lunch or dinner on the train.
  • Go trout fly-fishing on the Spring River. Indeed, if fishing is your favorite, Arkansas boasts more than 600,000 acres of lakes and almost 10,000 miles of streams. Licenses are required.
  • Search for real diamonds (in the rough) at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro. Since the first diamonds were found in 1906, more than 75,000 have been unearthed. Anything you find, you keep.
  • Attend unique events, such as the BeanFest and Championship Outhouse Races in Mountain View; Cardboard Boat Race World Championship (which ambitiously incorporates the World Championship Watermelon Eating Contest), Heber Springs, or the Annual World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest in Stuttgart. It’s your call.
  • Make yours a houseboat holiday on one of Arkansas’ lakes. Or, just float about on the flat-bottomed johnboat, a party barge or raft.
  • Go to White Oak Lake State Park near Bluff City where sightings of egrets, great blue herons, green herons, ospreys and wintering eagles have been reported. Other bird-watching sites include Lake Charles State Park and Millwood State Park.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Visit Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park to see earthworks of early Indian civilization, and learn how the scientists work.
  • Visit the Clinton Presidential Library and Park in Little Rock. You also can visit his birthplace home, now the Clinton Center, in a place called Hope (also the scene of an annual watermelon festival, in August) and look for other Clinton-connected sites in Fayetteville and Hot Springs.
  • Try the waters, believed by some to relieve some physical ailments, at one of the numerous springs found in Arkansas. Hot Springs is the best-known of the spa resort towns, but there are others, too.
  • Visit Sunset at Pea Ridge National Military Park, site of one of the largest Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River. For Civil War buffs, there are other sites in the state, as well.
  • Listen to the music of your choice: blues, country, jazz or a symphony. Attend the Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival, held in October in Helena. It is America’s largest free outdoor blues celebration.
  • Have your photo taken in Texarkana on State Line Avenue, with one foot in Arkansas and the other in Texas.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism at