The state capital and most populated city in Arkansas, Little Rock is located on the south bank of the Arkansas River. Little Rock got its name from a rock formation, known as the “Little Rock” that is found along the river. As the cultural, economic and transportation center within the state and the South, the city is home to numerous ways to spend time both indoors and out; from cultural institutions, history museums, hiking and other outdoor activities like boating, there is something for everyone, regardless of interest.
While one can easily keep busy in Little Rock, a road trip to somewhere new is a great way to explore the country. A two to three-day road trip from Little Rock to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for example, will take about 11.5 hours of driving while you head north to your destination through several states.
The exploring doesn't end when you reach your destination. Located in the southeastern corner of South Dakota, Sioux Falls has the largest population of any city in South Dakota, with over 190,000 residents. Just 15 miles west of the state’s border with Minnesota, the city boasts over 70 parks and green spaces. Plan to check out one or more of these parks to stretch your legs after your time on the road. If your visit is during the summer months, plan to spend some time downtown checking out the annual SculptureWalk, with exhibits changing each year.
Camping options are available within the city and its surrounding area, so plan to stay as long as you can to take in all the city has to offer.
The first leg of your journey from Little Rock to Sioux Falls is just under two hours, leading to the town of Ozark and the Pig Trail Scenic Byway. A Forest Service Scenic Byway, the road starts to the southeast of Ozark National Forest and continues north for 19 miles. Sometimes compared to a roller coaster ride, the Pig Trail Scenic Byway has large inclines and sharp curves, resulting in a fun drive.
The best part, however, is likely the scenery. There has not been much development near the road, and travelers can enjoy the beauty of the trees that line the route. During the fall, an explosion of color can be enjoyed as the leaves of the trees change. A drive along the Pig Trail Scenic Byway appears similar to what the early settlers would have seen during their travels through the Ozarks.
Upon leaving the town of Ozark and the Pig Trail Scenic Byway, you are about an hour and a half from Bentonville, the location of your next stop: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The aim of the Museum is to celebrate American art in an environment that combines the influence of art with the allure of nature.
Named from a natural spring that is located close to the museum as well as the bridge that is integrated with the building, the museum includes pavilions that surround spring-fed ponds, within which are galleries and spaces for meetings and education. There is also a library with over 50,000 volumes of art reference information. There are also walking trails that connect the museum and its park to the downtown area of Bentonville. This unique museum will offer opportunities to explore both indoors and out!
Less than two and a half hours from Bentonville (a few miles west of Fort Scott) is Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, which is a perfect place to stop, stretch your legs and have some fun! Including 240 acres with more than 60 miles of trails, the Park can be explored by hiking, biking or even on a slow speed vehicle with four-wheel drive.
Trails vary in difficulty and pass through rocky hills of varying elevation, forested areas and even include creek crossings. For those who like an additional challenge to their bike riding, there are freeride trails that have obstacles, jumps and drop offs. The park is open on the weekends during daylight hours and is a fun way to explore, get in a work-out, or just relax and take in the scenery!
An hour and a half from Kansas Rocks Recreation Park is Kansas City, where you will find your next stop; the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Opened in 1926 as the Liberty Memorial Museum, in 2004 the United States Congress designated it as the official museum in the country focused on World War I. The Museum has an interesting collection of items and focuses on World War I and global events that are connected to it.
The exhibit space includes 32,000 square feet with two main galleries. One of the galleries focuses on the earlier part of the war before the US became involved. The second gallery is geared toward the involvement of the United States and endeavors made toward peace. During your visit, you can see a Renault FT tank, a 1918 Ford Model T ambulance, and maps and photographs from the time. There are many other things to see and do during your time at the Museum and Memorial!
As you make your way to your destination of Sioux City, you will reach Omaha, Nebraska, about two hours and 45 minutes after leaving Kansas City. While in Omaha, a stop at the Lauritzen Gardens, a Botanical Garden Center, is in order. Considered an urban oasis, construction began in 1995, beginning with the rose garden, with other gardens being developed soon afterward.
The site of Lauritzen Gardens is just west of the Missouri River on a bluff and new gardens are added annually. During your visit, you can enjoy the Song of the Lark Meadow, which includes wildflowers and will remind you of the prairies of the state, and check out the Victorian garden, where you will find features of English and Victorian gardens. Need to relax after your time on the road? Check out Garden in the Glen, which has a stream, along with pools and small waterfalls. There is plenty more to see at the Lauritzen Gardens, so be sure to take your time and explore!
From Omaha, it will take about two hours and forty five minutes to reach your destination of Sioux Falls. Those who enjoy the outdoors will welcome the opportunity to explore any of the more than 70 parks located within the city. Spend some time at Falls Park, which is focused on the waterfall named Sioux Falls on the Big Sioux River, which is just north of the city’s downtown area. A 19-mile path follows the Big Sioux River and is used for biking, jogging and walking, which is ideal for getting some energy out after being on the road. If you are visiting during the winter months, check out Great Bear Recreation Park, which offers skiing, snowboarding and tubing.
Arts are popular in Sioux Falls. In addition to the SculptureWalk, you can check out the Northern Plains Indian Art Market or visit the permanent Northern Plains Tribal Art Collection at the Egger Gallery located at the Washington Pavilion. The city also hosts poetry and literary events. The city also hosts the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Festival, a three-day event that is free to the public. There is also the Downtown Riverfest, that offers live music and art.
Fortunately for those looking to explore this surprising city will find that there are plenty of options to camp in and around the area, ensuring that you can spend some time taking in all that Sioux Falls has to offer!