Attractions in Arkansas's
Arkansas and Missouri Railroad -- Scenic rail excursions through the Boston Mountains take place aboard restored passenger cars that travel over three high trestles and through the 1882 Winslow tunnel, which is more than 1,700 feet long and the highest railroad pass between the Rockies and the Appalachians. Passenger excursions are offered from Springdale to Van Buren on Friday and Saturday in April through September, and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in October through mid-November. A Ft. Smith to Winslow trip is available on Sunday from April through September. Numerous special rides take place throughout the year. 1-800-687-8600; www.arkansasmissouri-rr.com.
Beaver Lake -- A glittering gem of northwest Arkansas, the lake's 28,000 acres of clear water attract thousands of water sports lovers, fishermen and birdwatchers. The lake is surrounded by forests, tall bluffs, and meadows crisscrossed by hiking trails. Campgrounds, resorts, marinas, outfitters, restaurants and shops serve the area, which is located in the Ozark Highlands near the cities of Rogers, Eureka Springs, Springdale and Fayetteville. Trout fishing is popular on the White River below Beaver Dam. www.beaverlake.com.
Buffalo National River -- The nation's first federally protected stream (1972), the Buffalo River flows roughly 150 miles and includes nearly 95,000 acres of public land along its corridor. It has been the topic of a full-length book, the subject of a National Geographic feature article, and the cornerstone for the state's environmental movement. The stream descends nearly 2,000 feet through layers of sandstone, limestone, and chert. One immediately obvious result is its many bluffs -- the highest in all the Ozark Mountains. Hidden away, ready for discovery, are other geologic marvels -- springs, caves, waterfalls, natural bridges, and box-like canyons, where trails are abundant. Numerous outfitters service the river, and there are several campgrounds, cabins, motels and other lodging options nearby. While spring and early summer are the prime floating times, the lower section of the Buffalo can be floated year-round. (870) 741-5443; http://arkansas.com/outdoors_sports/float/links.asp or www.nps.gov/buff/.
Devil's Den State Park -- Nestled deep in a picturesque Ozark valley, the park features nearly 150 campsites, rustic cabins, a picnic area, a pavilion and miles of hiking trails leading through the surrounding Ozark National Forest. Selected as a park site in the 1930s, Lee Creek Valley provided materials for the Civilian Conservation Corps to build the park's rustic-style wood and stone cabins and other structures, which today offer modern conveniences. A mountain stream forms a peaceful 8-acre lake before cascading over a native stone dam. Hiking and backpacking trails access backcountry areas of the park and caves, crevices and bluff overlooks awaiting exploration. 11333 West Ark. 74, West Fork. (479) 761-3325; www.ArkansasStateParks.com/devilsden.
Eureka Springs -- "America's Victorian Village" was named one of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs first drew visitors because of its natural springs with purported healing powers. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the city became a popular spa resort, and today its entire downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places. While baths and spa treatments are still available, the city is now nationally renowned for its art and well-preserved Victorian era architecture. Eureka Springs is packed with attractions such as gardens, tour caves, an exotic wildlife ranch and The Great Passion Play, which depicts the last week of Christ's life on earth and is the nation's most attended outdoor drama. Unique boutiques offer antiques, fine art, contemporary and vintage clothing, bells, handmade crafts and more. A portion of history is uniquely preserved through ghost tours at the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa, one of several historic hotels. 1-800-6EUREKA; www.eurekasprings.org.
Fayetteville's Downtown Area and Dickson Street -- This district, known as the arts and entertainment center of northwest Arkansas, features beautiful gardens and the Farmer's Market that runs three days a week beginning in spring and ending in early autumn. Dickson Street is the hip place for unique shops, dining locales and tons of live music featuring everything from alternative music, blues and jazz, and new country to folk. Completing the scene are symphony concerts at parks and the Walton Arts Center, which also brings Broadway shows, drama, and dance to the city's entertainment district. A multi-million dollar renovation in 2003 to improve the streetscape -- new lighting and sidewalks, landscaping, brick pavers and artistic elements -- gives the area a pedestrian-friendly environment and an attractive and cohesive appearance. www.fayettevilletourism.com.
Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail -- This 178-mile trail winds along mountaintops and bluffs, past waterfalls and over streams, while passing through some of the most remote and scenic country in the Ozark National Forest and the Buffalo National River. The trail is used for day hikes and weekend and extended backpacking trips. The national forest contains campgrounds, picnic areas, cabins, wilderness areas such as East Fork, Hurricane Creek, Leatherwood and Richland Creek and many additional hiking trails. (479) 968-2354; www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark.
Pea Ridge National Military Park/Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park -- The site of one of the largest Civil War battles west of the Mississippi River, Pea Ridge marks the successful culmination of the Union's effort to secure control of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and protect the arsenal at St. Louis, which made easier the supply of Gen. Grant's Vicksburg campaign. The park encompasses 4,300 acres and includes a seven-mile, self-guided tour with 10 stops featuring wayside exhibits. It also has a visitors center, museum and bookstore. U.S. 62 in Pea Ridge. (479) 451-8122; http://www.nps.gov/peri/. The 1862 Battle of Prairie Grove was the last time two armies of almost equal strength faced each other for supremacy in northwest Arkansas. When the Confederate Army withdrew, it was clear Missouri and northwest Arkansas would remain in Federal hands. Today, historic homes are located on the 500-acre Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, which has a self-guided walking tour and driving tour. The park's visitors center has a gift shop, museum and bookstore. Pavilions, a picnic area and a playground are also at the park. On U.S. 62 in Prairie Grove. (479) 846-2990; www.ArkansasStateParks.com/prairiegrovebattlefield.
Shiloh Museum of Ozark History -- Dedicated to the study, interpretation and preservation of the rich history of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains, the museum offers lectures, films, classes, tours and frequently changing exhibits. It contains a significant research library and a collection that includes tens of thousands of artifacts and 150,000 photographs illustrating Ozark life. The handicapped-accessible grounds have six 19th-century buildings, including a log cabin, a barn and a country doctor's office. 118 W. Johnson, Springdale. (479) 750-8165.
Wal-Mart Visitor's Center -- The origin and growth of the nation's largest corporation is encapsulated at this Bentonville museum housed in the building that gave birth to the retail giant. In 1962, Sam Walton opened his first discount store in Rogers at 8th and Walnut streets and had 25 employees. Today, Wal-Mart is the world's largest company with more than $220 billion in annual sales and more than 1.3 million employees. 105 N. Main, Bentonville. (479) 273-1329.