Ozark National Forest is one of the smaller national parks in the U.S. but is also one of the more impressive, with mountains, natural caverns, majestic rivers, and many more geological features that make it both visually attractive and interesting. It is located in the Ozark Mountain range and often referenced along with its sister park, St. Francis National Forest, which you will find on Crowley's Ridge. Much of the park consists of old-growth forest, mainly oak species but also including several endangered tree species.
The forest covers several counties and includes Mount Magazine, Arkansas' tallest mountain; it extends as far south as the Ouachita Mountains. Rent an RV near Russellville, and you'll be in the midst of the fantastic region. Blanchard Springs Caverns, near Mountain View, is a cave system with three levels, all of which can be accessed by guided tours (taking self-guided tours isn't recommended). The caves were known to local citizens as early as the 1930s but weren't opened to the public until 1973, after the first of the cave's trails had been developed. The caves are primarily composed of limestone rock and descend more than 300 feet underground. Park your Russelville RV rental nearby, and you can enjoy a hot meal in comfort when you have finished your excursions.
Ozark National Forest has miles upon miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding; many of the trails are multi-use, but you should be on the lookout for posted signs indicating if trails are for a more specific use, like equestrian activities. Much of the trail system was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s; it is currently maintained by the National Park Service. The trails are also quite popular with nature enthusiasts and provide a chance to engage in wildlife observation.
Picnicking is allowed within the park, as is camping. Numerous day-use areas have picnic tables and are near or adjacent to beaches where you can go swimming. The day-use areas have ramps where you can set your boat, canoe, or kayak into the water and spend the day fishing on the lake or paddling and taking in the panoramic views. One of the forest's main attractions is White Rock Mountain. It was developed in the 1930s but fell into disrepair over the years until a volunteer group was formed to restore the area, which included natural stone cabins.
Several byways pass through and dissect the park; you can use any of these to enjoy a self-guided auto tour, experiencing the wonderful views from the comfort of your motorhome rental. One of the byways, Scenic 7 Byway, runs from Missouri to Louisiana and passes through the park on its way; this particular stretch of road has the greatest variety of landscapes for you to witness. Another one, the Ozark Highlands Byway, passes by several rivers that would be of interest and accessible to canoeists, kayakers, and anglers.
Camping at Ozark National Forest
Book an RV in Pope County, and you are one step closer to the vacation of your dreams. You can enjoy RV camping at one of several recreation areas within the Ozark National Forest, namely Bear Creek Lake, Blanchard Springs, Cove Lake, Lake Wedington, and Long Pool. Blanchard Springs and Cove Lake are open year-round, while the others are open seasonally (from approximately May to October).
Some of these RV campgrounds have hot showers, and others have cold showers; the historic stone cabins built by the CCC can be rented as well. When you choose your campsite location, you'll have a choice between reserving a site near a lake or river, or on a mountain top, giving you access to a variety of activities.
Exploring the Area
While touring the expansive forest area with a camper rental near Russellville, you may want to set aside some time to check out some of the nearby cities too. Dardanelle is a medium-size city and one of Arkansas' oldest communities. It is near several state parks such as Lake Dardanelle State Park and Mount Nebo State Park. Lake Dardanelle has numerous paved walking paths where you can take a leisurely stroll and a visitor center with an aquarium and interactive exhibits. It's an excellent place to stop and eat, whether you're looking for a quick bite or somewhere you can relax and enjoy your meal. Most of the venues range from inexpensive to moderately priced, and there is a range of cuisines that includes Mexican, Italian, and Asian.
Danville is a small community with a handful of restaurants available if you need to refuel. You'll find a Mexican restaurant and a Salvadoran eatery, though most of the restaurants offer American style food; there are several cafes and a few commercial chain-style venues.
Ozark National Forest, AR is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
There are many popular rentals in Ozark National Forest. Outdoorsy's Ozark National Forest RV rental marketplace allows renters to choose from rental options from professional RV rental agencies as well as RVs for rent by owner.