The Sylamore Scenic Byway is one of a few scenic byways in the Natural State. It’s a relaxing way to spend a weekend and take a drive together through the Ozark National Forest. It’s also a great way to get to know the beautiful state of Arkansas even more than you already do.
Even though it’s only 26.5 miles long and you could drive the entire drive in about an hour and a half, you could easily spend an entire weekend or longer. From side trips to outdoor recreation, it’s a family vacation in the making.
- Calico Rock
Driving north to south, you’ll begin your journey in the tiny town of Calico Rock. Don’t even for a second underestimate this little town. From a giant rocking chair photo opp to a history museum, you’ll find plenty of places to explore.
If you’re a history buff, the Calico Rock Museum & Visitor Center is a great place to spend a little time. Just be sure to sign the guest book when you visit. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the history of the area and people who lived in the area (including the famous outlaw Jesse James), get a good look at artifacts, and browse through local artisan wares.
Down the street sits the Printing Press Café and Ice Cream Parlor where you can enjoy a bite to eat. You can even make a reservation at the River View Hotel, a historic hotel that sits on the hill overlooking the White River.
- Fishing and Recreation on the White River
Want to go fishing? Or maybe you’d like to spend a day floating the river in a canoe, kayak or raft. The White River is the place to be.
Driving along the Byway, you’ll come to the town of Allison where you’ll get a beautiful view of the White River. You’ll also have your choice of places to stay and eat, especially if you’ve got a hankering for catfish and hush puppies.
- Tons of Places to Explore
If the river isn’t quite your thing, there are still plenty of outdoor opportunities for you. With activities like hiking, camping, mountain biking and horseback riding, you’ll never be bored.
Stop at the OK Trading Post where you can visit the gift shop, rest on the front porch, or even go for a trail ride. They offer overnight camping trips, as well.
Into mountain biking? Take a ride on the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail, a 50-mile interconnecting loop trail.
Take a hike along the Mirror Lake Trail or Blanchard Spring Trail in the beautiful Blanchard Springs Recreation Area. Head toward the campground, where you can camp for the night and even take a dip in the river.
While Blanchard Springs Caverns was closed by the time we arrived, we still plan on taking a trip there in the near future. They offer a few different tour options, including the Dripstone Trail, the Discovery Trail, the Discovery in the Dark Headlamp Tour, and the Wild Cave Tour.
- It’s a beautiful drive!
Even if for no other reason than this, the beautiful drive is worth taking a trip on the Byway. The Ozark National Forest offers so many opportunities for solitude and gorgeous views along the way.
Details to Know Before You Drive the Sylamore Scenic Byway
Just a few tips before you embark…
- The Sylamore Scenic Byway extends from Calico Rock to Allison on Highway 5, follows Arkansas 14 from Allison, then continues on U.S. Forest Service Road 1110 to Blanchard Springs Caverns.
- While it is a shorter drive, you could still plan an entire weekend (or a whole day) around this drive.
- Restaurants in Calico Rock do close earlier on the weekend, and the museum is only open Monday thru Saturday (closing early on Saturdays), so keep this in mind if you’re wanting to stop and explore.
- The Calico Rock Museum has clean restrooms with running water. There are other places with restrooms along the way, but if you’re planning on outdoor recreation, you’ll likely encounter portable or vault toilets most of the time.
- Food is available in both Calico Rock and Allison (as well as Mountain View).
- Camping and lodging are available along the way.
- There are plenty of side trips one could take, including the Ozark Folk Center, a place worth visiting if you’re going to be in the area.
A trip along the Sylamore Scenic Byway is one you’ll definitely never forget!