The southern state located near the Mississippi River and populated with an eclectic mix of people, Arkansas possesses an understated beauty that’s not usually shouted about but offers some truly wonderful landscapes. The natural scenery here is made up of deep forests crisscrossed with empty roads, granite outcrops, hot springs, deep caverns, quickly flowing rivers, and extraordinary vistas as well as a portion of the now-famous (thanks Netflix!) Ozarks. From fairytale churches to beautiful lake resorts, here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Arkansas, USA…
Hawksbill Crag Hiking Trail – one of the most Instrammable/photogenic places to explore in Arkansas
Located deep into the Ozark National Park lies a treasured gem of Arkansas. The Whitaker Point or Hawksbill Crag is known for a large rock outcrop that resembles a hawk’s bill. Featured in many Disney movies, this spiky outcrop offers an incredible natural view. The iconic hike will take up at least half a day of your time between hiking and sight-seeing.
The relatively easy and popular hike takes roughly about two hours to reach. On this scenic trail, you’ll encounter small waterfalls with vast fauna and flora. Once you land up to the summit, you’ll witness the magnificent beauty of the natural state. Enjoy the tranquil serenity and behold the ever-changing colors of the beautiful sunset. Be cautious while approaching the steep edge though!
Buffalo River Arkansas – offering some of the finest scenery in the state
The first-ever designated National River of the United States is the Buffalo River. This unpolluted and free-flowing river has three distinct wilderness areas managed by the Ozark National Park Service. The Roark Bluff trail is a relatively easy hike with a beautiful waterfall.
In the Upper Buffalo Wilderness lies the most beautiful wet-weather waterfall, Hemmed-in-hollow falls or Bower’s fall enveloped by the beauty of Ozark National Forest. Kayaking the Buffalo River in the Ponca wilderness area will be the most scenic float of your dreams. Another beautiful place worth your attention is the Buffalo Waterfall. Every mile of this river offers something unique to its visitors!
Buffalo National River – the perfect place to visit for outdoor lovers
In northern Arkansas, with the backdrop of lush Ozark Mountains stretches the wild Buffalo National River. Designated as the first-ever National River in the U.S. in 1972, the area played a pioneering role in the American Civil War.
Flowing across 153 miles, the lower 135 miles of this free-flowing water comes under the supervision of the National Park. Home to a variety of wild animals, visitors can explore the caverns and giant rock formations by hiking, camping and canoeing.
Arkansas Grand Canyon – Arkansas’ best-kept secret
Yes, Arkansas has a grand canyon too! This Natural State canyon offers scenic views to gaze the stunning views. Located a few miles from the town of Jasper, the Arkansas Grand Canyon is a beautiful stop off.
There’s also a lookout tower where you can climb to the top and watch the serene mountains and valley. The early bird gets to see the most stunning views of this gorge. Definitely worth a visit while you’re in this beautiful state!
Catherine’s at Bell Gable in Fayetteville – a fairytale church set in stunning surroundings
Located in Fayetteville, at the base of the Ozark Mountains, this gothic chapel beside the cascading waterfall is something couples looking for an intimate wedding venue. The panoramic landscape, native stone, and beautiful nearby waterwheel, the chapel speaks for itself.
The scenery and the beautiful church will remind you of Great Britain. Enjoy the Barn and lush green surroundings with reverence. This breath-taking wedding locale in Arkansas makes a perfect setting for a small, dreamy fairy-tale wedding or just a wonderful visit!
Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway – one of the most beautiful road trips in the state
Take a drive to the countryside with beautiful Ozark Mountains at every winding turn and the Buffalo River gushing below. Sounds perfect for a long ride!
This iconic trail is available for scenic driving throughout the year. A truly “Highlands route” it takes you to the heart of Buffalo river where you can camp or canoe. Colorful flora, rugged terrains, and abundant wildlife, this highway is full of panoramic views and scenic surprises!
Hot Springs National Park – easily one of the best places to visit in Arkansas
Located at the north end of the city of Hot Springs, lies one of the major attractions to visit in Arkansas. The Hot Springs National park was launched 188 years ago, entirely devoted to hot springs. Bubbling with hot springs, this park takes you back to a different era.
The historic bathhouses are the best place to go for a soak. You can also climb the Hot Springs Mountain Tower for a wider view of the surrounding towering mountains.
Ozark Mountains – one of the most famously beautiful places to visit and explore in Arkansas
This is one of the most popular places to visit in Arkansas and they’re many things to do here. First up is the “Magic City” of Eureka Springs is known for its natural springs which are supposed to be able to aid in health. The winding streets and walkways with Victorian architecture and natural beauty make it an incredible tourist destination. In the nearby hills lies the architectural marvel made with wood and glass, the Thorncrown Chapel.
A scenic drive along the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks will take you to the backwoods. Also, in the valley of the Boston Mountain Range in the state park lies the serene Lake Fort Smith. A fantastic place for campers and hikers, it is full of outdoor adventures just waiting to be had.
Hamilton Lake – a gorgeous man-made lake located in the resort city of Hot Springs
One of the most popular recreational and residential lakes, the Hamilton Lake is spread across 8,000 acres. There are plenty of things to do around Hamilton Lake. You can enjoy skiing, jet skiing, recreational boating, and many other water sports here.
Along the eastern end of the lake lies the Garvan Woodland Gardens. Renowned for Anthony Chapel, striking trails, and beautiful peacocks, these beautiful gardens are easily accessible by boat or motor vehicle. This lake is a peaceful place to spend time or to take a wonderful vacation.
Devil’s Den State Park – offers some of the best hiking trails in Arkansas
Set against the lush Boston Mountains and Lee Creek Valley, this Arkansas icon turned into a state park in the 1930s. Devil’s Den State Park features rock formations, caverns, wet-weather waterfalls, and the lake is ideal for hiking, backpacking, and cycling.
The trails will lead you to the most popular attractions of Devil’s Den cave and Twin Falls. Spread across eight acres, is where you’ll find the Devil Den Lake flanked by the beautiful Ozark National Forest. This is easily one of the best places to visit in Arkansas.
Ozark–St. Francis National Forest – a beautiful national forest in Arkansas
This a beautiful protected forest that covers a huge amount of acres (1.2 million to be precise!) and they’re mostly in the Ozark Mountains in the North of the state. It’s a very popular place to camp and hike and the tallest mountain – Mount Magazine – is located here.
Another attraction is the fantastic The Blanchard Springs Caverns, which are located in the Ozark- St. Francis National Forest, and attracts thousands of tourists each year. Discovered in 1955 by Roger Bottoms, the remains of prehistoric Native Americans dated thousand years old were found in the cave. Over the years, the caverns have been growing and changing. With guided tours, visitors can watch the moving water still carving its way through the cave and the enticing formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
Petit Jean State Park – a legendary state park known for its rugged beauty
Located in the north of the state, just to the west of the town Conway, the Petit Jean State Park’s campground is undoubtedly the state’s best. The park has derived its name from a mystic tale. A young French woman in the 18th century disguised herself as a young lad and joined her lover in the exploration journey of unsettled land. Due to her petite frame, she was given the nickname “Petit Jean” or “little John” by the crew members.
To date, her grave lies on the top of Petit Jean Mountain. In addition to the scenic beauty, the park is home to many cave formations, canyons, lakes, and the eye-catching Cedar Falls. Whether you choose to hike or bike, there’s much more to explore in this fantastic historic state park.
Mount Magazine State Park – a wonderful place to explore which is home to Arkansas’s highest point
At the peak of Mount Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas, experience the sweeping views of the broad valleys and timeless natural beauty. This plateau is a remnant of an ancient seafloor. Mount Magazine is rich in natural resources and home to many endangered species.
The location of the park has everything to offer visitors and explorers including rock climbing, hiking, hang-gliding, rappelling, scenic outlooks, and much more, Mount Magazine draws extreme adventurists from all over the country.
DeGray Lake Resort State Park – a beautiful gem which is a popular place for camping
Another popular camping destination in Arkansas is the stunning DeGray Lake Resort state park. Located right on the DeGray Lake off the Caddo River overlooking the beautiful Ouachita Mountains, this place is definitely worth exploring. Visitors can hike, camp, and make use of the excellent recreational facilities beside the lakeshore and shady woodland sites.
This destination gives you much-needed leisure away from the hustle and bustle. The lake Resort has hiking trails, guided horseback trails and biking trails along with boat rentals and much more. In all, it’s a very beautiful place to visit in Arkansas with lots of things to do!
Ouachita National Recreation Trail – hike by beautiful lakes, rivers and peaceful forests
This rough and rugged trail extends across 223 miles through the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Ouachita National Recreation Trail is the longest backpacking trail amidst the Ouachita National Forest, spanning across 192 miles.
Throughout the trail, you’ll find many road crossings and access points, making it easy to plan out your trip. While the hikers love the rugged landscapes, nature lovers can enjoy the tranquil Arkansas scenery.