As the capital of Arkansas, Little Rock is not as big as you may expect. Under 200,000 people live in this historic city in Pulaski County where there have been archeological artifacts from the 1500s found, thought to be from the Folsom people. Some of the historical tribes to live in the area over the years include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Osage, Quapaw, and Caddo. The town has eight museums and memorials dedicated to the history where you can learn much more.
In addition, the culture of the city is popular with people all over as they flock to the town’s ballet company, orchestra, several theaters, and art centers, as well as an arboretum at Pinnacle Mountain. Take the time to stop at Little Rock Zoo, where you can see more than 700 animals of over 200 species. Also nearby, the Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a large nature retreat around the base of Pinnacle Mountain. You can enjoy some of the 15 miles of trails or have some water fun in the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers. Get a picnic table and have a picnic before heading out to your next adventure, Heber Springs.
Settled in the 1830s, the City of Heber Springs started out as a health resort named Sugar Loaf Springs. Now it is the home base to locals and visitors to the Little Red River and Greers Ferry Lake. The downtown area just an hour from Little Rock is known for its antique shops, theater, museum, and art gallery. But it is the natural attractions that draw thousands to the town every year. Greers Ferry Lake is a great fishing lake where you can also do some boating and swimming. The Little Red River holds the world record of the largest brown trout, which was 40 pounds, four ounces so grab your fly fishing gear.
Just outside the city limits, Old Highway 25 Beach on Greers Ferry Lake has it all and then some. For such a small town, this is just one of the many recreational areas around the lake to hang out. Do some scuba diving, toss a line in the lake, or just get out on the water in kayaks or canoes for a fun bit of paddling. Surrounded by bluffs and water, this recreation area also has a nice trail called Buckeye Trail where you can see all sorts of wildlife. This small town is a quiet and quaint place to visit where you can spend an hour or two just enjoying nature as well as the downtown life.
Head up AR-5 about 1.5 hours and you will find this horseshoe-shaped town called Horseshoe Bend. Located in the middle of the Ozark Mountains on the banks of the Strawberry River, the small town is popular for its parks including the nearby Crown Lake Pier, which has some excellent fishing and the Boxhound Marina, which is the only sand beach in the city. You and the family can swim, play volleyball, do some fishing, go boating, or have a picnic. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen.
A little bit further out you can find Mammoth Spring State Park, which has the world’s largest springs with over nine million gallons of water per hour flowing through. The water leads into the Spring River, a popular trout fishing spot in the Arkansas Ozarks. They also have trails, ball fields, picnicking, and the 1886 Frisco Train Depot and Museum. And the kids will love the huge playground. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to get some souvenirs for the folks back home.
Mark Twain National Forest is less than two hours to the north in the lush green woods of the Missouri Ozarks. The forest, which is about 1.5 million acres, is spread out over 29 Missouri counties. With more than 750 miles of trails to be enjoyed on foot, bike, horseback, or OTV riding, you can stay busy all day on land. Then hit the water for canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and fishing. You can also enjoy a nice float trip down one of the many streams in the forest.
If you want to stay here, make sure you reserve a spot. Even though they have over 35 campgrounds for RVers to enjoy with amenities from primitive to posh, this is a popular place and many of the campgrounds have less than 10 sites. Along the Black Lake, the Sutton Bluff Recreation Area near Centerville has 33 campsites that can accommodate rigs up to 60 feet long. Cobb Ridge Recreation Area near Chadwick has 45 sites for RVs up to 34 feet long, more than half with electricity. No matter where you choose to stay, you are bound to have a great time in the Mark Twain National Forest.