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Northwest Boxley Ponca Springdale Van Buren
Northwest 0

5 Unique Ways to See North Arkansas


From a Zipline in Ponca

5 Unique Ways to See North Arkansas - #1. From a Zipline in Ponca

The Boxley Valley Historic District in Newton County is far from city lights, but there are a few thrills to be found high among this section of the forested Ozark Plateau. As part of the Buffalo Outdoor Center, the Zip Line Canopy Tour is the first of its kind in the state and is modeled after the zipline tours in Costa Rica that provide tourists with breathtaking views of rainforest canopies. During the approximately two-hour tour, participants are greeted by views of ridges and tree tops of the Ozarks typically only seen by soaring bald eagles and red-tailed hawks.

Participants over the age of seven are welcome (they claim it’s a favorite activity for women over fifty!) but there are weight restrictions. Hours of operation, directions to the Center, and pricing are listed on the website.

From the Windows of a Passenger Train

5 Unique Ways to See North Arkansas - #2 From the Windows of a Passenger Train

The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad (A&M) began in 1986 as a freight line running from Monett, Missouri to Fort Smith, but their excursion passenger service offers ‘A Window Seat to History’ that is unique in the state of Arkansas. The 134-mile round-trip journey begins in downtown Springdale and winds through the Boston Mountains and across trestles over valleys dotted with farms and cattle before reaching its terminus in the Arkansas River Valley.

A three-hour layover in historic downtown Van Buren allows passengers to visit shops along Main Street and enjoy lunch at a local café. All of the antique passenger and parlor coaches on the train have been refurbished to their original glory and harken back to days when rail travel was the only way to see the country.

Rates and excursion schedules – including special events – are listed on the website.

From the Seat of a Canoe

5 Unique Ways to See North Arkansas - #3 From the Seat of a Canoe

Photo courtesy of Kelsey Schacherbauer

Wherever you find beautiful mountain vistas, there are always lovely valleys filled with babbling brooks and running rivers. Such is the case with our beautiful Ozark Mountains, home of the first waterway to be designated a national treasure – the Buffalo National River. But the Buffalo is not the only river in town, so to speak, when you are looking for a place to put a canoe in and spend a day relaxing on the water.

There are more than 9,000 miles of streams in the state, and Arkansas tourism lists eighteen rivers suitable for paddling. Most of the rivers and creeks listed are located in North Arkansas, and there are outfitters and rental businesses along every route that will be happy to welcome you to their favorite spot in the state during the summer.

From Below the Surface

5 Unique Ways to See North Arkansas - #4 From Below the Surface

The geology of the Ozark Mountains is primarily made up of different forms of limestone and sandstone. As those relatively soft materials have eroded over millions of years, the landscape has become dominated by “Karst” topography, a land form that features sinkholes and caves. The great news for those of us who love exploring these holes in the ground is that there are plenty of opportunities open to the public!

In North Arkansas, there are a number of privately owned caves to choose from if you’re interested in taking a tour. Some are only a few hundred yards deep and easy to walk through on lighted paths in an hour or less, others take longer and require a willingness to get dirty. Either way, you’re sure to see some of the creatures and natural beauty that first captured the fancy of the earliest citizens of our state thousands of years ago.

From the Top of Hawksbill Crag

5 Unique Ways to See North Arkansas - #5 From the Top of Hawksbill Crag

Photo courtesy of Kelly Zega

One of the most popular views in Northwest Arkansas has to be off the top of Hawksbill Crag. The rock formation, also known as Whitaker Point, is on one of many hiking trails located near Boxley in the Buffalo River Wilderness, and is probably one of the most-photographed spots in the state. The 3-mile round-trip hike takes about two hours to complete, and is a sort of bucket list event for anyone who calls themselves an outdoor enthusiast.

In the spring, there is a wet-weather creek and a waterfall along the hike, and the summer offers a wide variety of wildflowers to enjoy and spots to linger and enjoy views off the ridgeline. Visit this website for a trail map and more information.

*A note of caution: please wear appropriate footwear, refrain from venturing too close to the edge of cliffs and ridges, and do not take your small children on this particular hike – accidents happen.

How many of these views of Arkansas have you taken in? Do you have any to share that didn’t make the list? Please post them in the comments section!

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Arkansas Women Blogger Laurie is a writer and artist living in Springdale, Arkansas with her husband, son and three cats who think they’re people. She can’t keep her fingernails clean, prefers her tea unsweet, and is on a first-name basis with local thrift store employees. You can follow Laurie at See Laurie Write and Junque Rethunque.

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