Arkansas, the 25th state to join the Union, has earned the nickname ‘The Natural State’ for a reason…The breathtaking natural beauty and the vast forest lands that cover most of the state, provide visitors with great opportunities for trekking and other adventure activities. Arkansas is located in the southeastern region of the US, and despite being the smallest state west of the Mississippi River, it is home to a population of over three million people.
National Parks in Arkansas
There are seven National Park sites in the state of Arkansas. Each holds an insight into the culture, history, and beauty of the state.
- Arkansas Post National Memorial – This National Memorial and National Historic Landmark encompasses the first site of European settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley. The French first settled here in 1686.
- Buffalo National River – Designated the first National River of the US in 1972, Buffalo River winds its way through miles of beautiful banks and towering cliffs and offers magnificent views.
- Central High School National Historic Site – This school played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement and was one of the earliest schools in which desegregation was enforced in 1954.
- Clinton Birthplace National Historic Site – President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site in the town of Hope, the birthplace of the 42nd President of the United States is a popular tourist attraction in the state.
- Fort Smith National Historic Site – One of the historically rich sites in the state, Fort Smith covers the courtrooms, the jails, the barracks and displays of US military history from the 1800s.
- Hot Springs National Park – The most popular attraction in the state of Arkansas is this national park – about 47 natural thermal springs located in close proximity.
Pea Ridge National Military Park – This is another historic site that marks the Civil War battlefield.
The National Forests in Arkansas – the St. Francis National Forest, the Ozark National Forest, and the Ouachita National Forest – are worthy of mention as these together encompass over 2.9 million acres. Numerous hiking trails run through these forests and these are popular camping grounds in the state. They show off the rugged beauty and the rich wildlife that the state is home to. The Ouachita National Forest alone covers an area of about 1.8 million acres. In the Ozark National Forest, the Whitaker Point Trail (Hawksbill Crag), to the south of the Harrison (along Buffalo National River), is one of the most scenic (and perhaps also one of the most photographed) spots in the state.
Pinnacle Mountain, Lake Ouachita, Petit Jean State Park, and Devil’s Den State Park are among the most picturesque and wondrous places to visit in the state.
Despite its beauty and natural bounty, Arkansas is not all wilderness. Let us take a look at some of the important cities in the state –
- Little Rock – The capital of the state, Little Rock, is also the most populous city in Arkansas. The Arkansas Arts Center, the Riverfront Park, the Museum of Discovery, the Big Dam Bridge, the Old Mill Park, the Esse Purse Museum, and the Old State House Museum are among the top tourist attractions of the city.
- Fayetteville – Home to the University of Arkansas and the third largest city in the state is Fayetteville. For those who enjoy art and culture, this city has much to offer. The Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, Lake Fayetteville, Wilson Park, the Arkansas Air and Military Museum, the Ozark Military Museum, and the Washington County Historical Society are among its best tourist attractions.
- Fort Smith – Fort Smith is the second largest city in the state of Arkansas. Popular tourist attractions include the Fort Smith National Historic Site, Fort Smith Trolley Museum, the Fort Smith Museum of History, the Fort Smith Art Museum, and the Chaffee Barbershop Museum.
- Springdale – Originally called Shiloh, Springdale is the fourth largest city in the state. The Shiloh Museum of Ozark History is among is greatest attractions and Tyson the largest employer in the city.
- Conway – Generally considered a satellite city of Little Rock, Conway has its own attractions. The Beaverfork Park Lake, Gatlin Park, Lake Conway and Simon Park attract the greatest footfall.
- Eureka Springs – The beautiful town of Eureka Springs is built around natural attractions such as the Blue Spring Heritage Center, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Onyx caves, and Lake Leatherwood Park.
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