As someone who loves to plan trips both for my husband and me and for an organization called R.U.S.H. LLC, I am constantly looking for an escape from the highways. I search out the small-town museums and quirky stops, and my husband plans the routes, seeking the backroads to get us from place to place.
A recent trip to Arkansas gave him the opportunity to include areas we have never been, incorporating winding, curving, tree-lined roads, and beautiful vistas.
Our day started by taking Exit 35 off of Hwy 40 near Ozark, Arkansas. We always fill our tank with gas as we begin, as we have found out that sometimes gas stations are sometimes few and far between. I’d love to say we have never experienced running out of gas, but that would be a false statement. My husband would say that we have never had to WALK to get gas…meaning we were out of gas and have coasted in on fumes (and more than one time).
After heading up Highway 23 we discover that we are climbing and finding twisting roads among the tall trees. We have started on the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, a ride often ranked one of the top two in America. This passes through the Boston Mountain area of the Ozarks and provides plenty of shade in the foliage.
24 miles of the Pig Trail Scenic byway are loved by many motorcyclists.
We continued on AR 23 for a while and followed it as it ran with AR 16. When AR 16 turned right we followed it for a while, and then turn where it intersects and runs together with scenic Hwy 7. We are now ready for the Arkansas Dragon which takes us up Hwy 123 for 19 curvy miles of hairpin turns and steep grades.
Continuing north, we take the intersection with AR 7 to the Arkansas Grand Canyon. There is a beautiful view of the Ozarks and the surrounding Boston Mountains. If you want, you can climb the tower at the souvenir shop for greater views or go inside for trinkets to remember your trip. On the day we visited, we watched low flying aircraft flying seemingly close, as they landed at a nearby base.
Although we would love to ride on, our stomachs are calling out for food. From this overlook, we turn south on 7 and travel to the Cliff House Inn, owned by Mike and Becky McLaurin who bought the business in 2006. What started as a motel overlooking the valley in the late ’60s, has been added on to include a gift shop and restaurant that hangs over the valley, giving diners a magnificent view.
We both ordered a Reuben, surprised by the size of the piece of corned beef in the sandwich. We have noticed that the meat we have eaten in Arkansas so far has been amazingly delicious, and this was no different. Full of flavor and served with a choice of sides. The prices are a bit higher, but with the view and the quality, we had no issue with the cost of the items we purchased for lunch. We also had visitors while we were waiting for our food; hummingbirds danced around the pots of flowers on the outside portion of the deck. It was a treat to watch them flitting from flower to flower.
Now with a full belly, we need to continue on to our final destination, Eureka Springs. We head toward Jasper on AR 7, stopping to get gas and get some water to keep us hydrated. We choose to turn on 74 to 21 to 43 to Kingston. Now we turn right on AR 412 and then join AR 23 until we are near Eureka Springs.
Our ride for the day has come to an end. We are excited to explore historic Eureka Springs and discover the adventures the area has to offer. Here are some suggestions based on the places we visited:
Thorncrown Chapel is a glass and wood church in the forest, built-in 1980 by E. Fay Jones, supposedly an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. It is 48 feet tall, contains 425 windows, and has over 6,000 square feet of glass.
A local museum highlights how the springs brought people to the area. There are other displays regarding the area and the people that live here.
Christ of the Ozarks stands on Magnetic Mountain, above the town of Eureka Springs. It is the 3rd largest Jesus in the world, standing at 67 feet tall.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, just to the south, rescues cats of all kinds.
Beaver Bridge, just to the north of town is a one-lane wooden plank suspension bridge, 554 feet tall that spans the White River. It was built in 1949 and is known as the Little Golden Gate Bridge.