Arkansas, a mini getaway: relax and exploring the Natural State
Updated: May 24
They call Arkansas the Natural State, and for good reason. It is lush green feast for the eyes, a nature lover's dream. Mountains and hills make for lots of curvy twisty roads, you won't be going anywhere very fast, but that's part of the charm, relax and enjoy the slower pace.
With so much to see and do in Arkansas, the possibilites are endless. Check out this sample itinerary, packed with lots of nature and a little bit of time spent in Eureka Springs, one of my favorite towns in the entire United States!
Day 1: War Eagle Cavern and Hobbs State Park Trails
War Eagle cavern tour is a Pristine natural cavern offering guided tours of the caverns, plus scenic forest trails with waterfalls.
Hobbs State Park Trails
About 3 miles down the road you'll find hiking trails at Hobbs State Park. Check here for a full list of hiking trails in Hobbs State Park.
an easy .5 mile, ADA accessible loop
an easy .5 mile loop. Note: This trail is closed during deer permit hunts in November, December, January. See the website for further details.
an easy to moderate 1.5 mile loop, it's a bit hilly, so you will get a good incline workout here.
Summary of Hobbs State Park Trails
I wasn't very impressed with the trails in Hobbs State Park, but if you like short easy hikes, this is your spot....and look at the water in Arkansas!!!!
After checking out the trails, we headed over to Sam’s Olde Tyme Hamburgers in Rogers (about 11 miles from the Shaddox Hollow trailhead) for some really good food, and then back to Eureka Springs for a couples massage!
Day 2: Eureka Springs
The husband left first thing for the Buffalo Ridge Springs Golf Course, so I was left to fill the day some other way, which is no problem in Eureka Springs! There is so much to see and do here, here's how I filled my day. I caught the handy Eureka Springs Trolley, and headed downtown for some shopping. They make it super easy to buy a ticket online from wherever you are. I purchased online and downloaded my ticket onto my phone. You can find all of the pertinent visitor information, and can purchase a ticket, here at Eureka Trolley. Eureka Springs is a fun place to shop. They have a couple of streets filled with eateries and fun eclectic artsy type shops.
(click the map to go to their online map)
Visiting the Springs.
Later in the day, we hit some of the many springs that can be found around town. There are upwards of 60 natural springs within Eureka Springs' city limits, many tucked away in small caves, nooks, and crannies. Some of the more popular spring are noted in blue on the trolley map (you can pick one up at various locations around town.)
The Springs of Eureka Springs:
The Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave
For dinner we had a reservation at The Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave. (it's popular, make sure you have a reservation, and ASK FOR A TABLE IN THE CAVE!) This place has a great atmosphere, the food was excellent, the bone marrow and peppered goat delightful! (goat cheese rolled in peppercorn, topped with house candied jalapenos, dried cranberries, nuts and served with ciabatta crisps... seriously, YUM)
Day 3: animal refuge and Lost Valley Hike
We were supposed to Kayak the Buffalo River on this day but water levels were low, and it wasn't looking promising for our kayak trip. I noticed that there was a good chance of lots of rain overnight. I called and Buffalo River Outfitters and they confirmed that a big rain might make the river more float'able the following day. They were gracious enough to allow us to switch our reservation, so we simply switched day 3 and day 4.
Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge
We headed south, but not before making an impromptu stop at the Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge.
I hope you will make time for a stop here. Turpentine Creek Animal Refuge is a nonprofit sanctuary for survivors of the exotic animal trade. They have rescued several of Joe Exotic's animals. Check out their website for a list of their accreditations. Sorry, no animal photos, my husband was in charge of photos and his phone fell victim to rapids #19 of 20 on the river, but rest assured you will get up close and personal with the animals.
Lost Valley Hike
Not only is this the most popular hiking trail in the Buffalo River National Park, it is also one of the most popular in the entire state of Arkansas and for good reason! It have added it to "all time favorite trails" list! It's a 2.1 mile out and back trail, located near Ponca Arkansas. Take care because it can be very slippery in the area of the waterfalls.
This trail actually deserves its own post, here's a link to one of the best and most popular hiking trails in Arkansas: Lost Valley Trail in Arkansas, Waterfalls and a Walk Through a Lush Forest.
Hammerschmidt Falls Trail
Just 8 miles away from the Lost Valley Trail is Hammerschmidt Falls Trail (.7 miles out and back). Unfortunately, we never made it there because we were not able to find the trail head/parking area. Later, I read on alltrails.com that the parking spot is right there where they sell firewood, as you first turn off of the highway onto the gravel, (tiny spot.) The trail is across the highway from the parking area. Oh well, there's always next time!
Day 4: Kayaking the Buffalo River
I have been wanting to kayak the Buffalo River, crystal clear waters surrounded big towering bluffs, for years.
As I mentioned, it rained a ton the night before our kayaking trip, which made the water level high enough to float (woohoo!) In addition to turning the beautiful clear water murk (you can't have it all!) it also bumped the water level up to "expert." We own kayaks, but living in Kansas, we don't deal much with whitewater. I was a bit nervous, but most of the trip went really well. It wasn't until the very last bend before our get out spot that my husband dumped his kayak. No harm, no foul, just another learning experience.
We used Buffalo River Outfitters, for kayak rentals and transportation, and kayaked the most scenic part of the river from Ponca to Kyles Landing.
Read all about our kayaking trip on the Buffalo River:
BIG BIG BONUS.....Hemmed-in Hollow waterfall, "the tallest waterfall between the Rockies and the Appalachians.", can be accessed from a trail off of the Buffalo River!
We had a great few days in Arkansas. I can't wait to go back!
Also of Interest in the area:
photos from Lost Valley Trail: