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Central Travel 4

10 Must-Visit Towns along I-40 in Arkansas


With an eastern beginning in Wilmington, North Carolina and a western point in Barstow, California, Interstate 40 is a major U.S. highway. The nearly 300 miles that pass through Arkansas, unfortunately, get a bad rap; whoever started the rumors that this portion of I-40 has nothing to see is sadly mistaken. The highway passes through some remote sections of The Natural State with plenty to see and plenty to do.

10 Must-Visit Towns Along I-40 in Arkansas

Map data ©2019 Google


Fossil Hunting at Crow Creek

Crow Creek is located just west of Madison, Arkansas at the intersection of Highway 70. The area is well-known among rock and fossil collectors for its abundance of chert, agate and fossils like shark’s teeth and other marine deposits consistent with the Eocene Jackson Group.

Scott Bond Family Plot

Scott Bond was the first African American millionaire in Arkansas. A successful farmer and businessman, Bond purchased the Madison Mercantile Company and owned five cotton gin plants, a sawmill and a gravel pit. Bond, along with several members of his family, is buried in the Scott Bond Family Plot just west of Fifth Street along Highway 70 in Madison. The plot was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Forrest City

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

St. Francis County Museum

Located in the restored, historic Rush-Gates home, exhibits here include the J.O. Rush relic collection, a reconstructed doctor’s office, geology and fossils from Crowley’s Ridge and African American history. With temporary and seasonal exhibits year-round, the museum also serves as the central visitors center for the Crowley’s Ridge National Scenic Byway.


Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Low’s Bridal and Formal Shop

Located in an old, beautifully restored hotel, Low’s attracts brides from all over the country. The 25,000-square foot showroom includes more than 3,000 dresses, some from many of the world’s best-known designers. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Louisiana Purchase State Park

Marking the initial point from which all surveys of property acquired through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 originated, the Louisiana Purchase State Park includes a national recreation trail and exhibits about the multimillion-dollar land deal. The park is open all year.

North Little Rock

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Burns Park

Burns Park offers everything from camping to golf, sports, and even a dedicated dog park. Visitors can view a covered bridge and a Civil War cabin as well as enjoy boating and fishing on Victory Lake and gain access to the Arkansas River Trail. A seasonal amusement park is open Saturday and Sunday from April through October.


Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Petit Jean Mountain and Petit Jean State Park

The beauty of Petit Jean Mountain, named for a French girl who disguised herself as a cabin boy to follow her love to the New World, inspired the creation of Arkansas’s first state park. The park is home to Mather Lodge, the Cedar Creek Canyon, interesting rock formations, Cedar Falls and miles of hiking trails. The visitor center is open year-round.


Potts Inn Museum

This restored 1850s antebellum home is one of the best-preserved stagecoach stations on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. The Potts Inn Museum features several log buildings and antique farm equipment.


Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Lake Dardanelle

Lake Dardanelle offers 34,000 acres of fishing, boating and water recreation, and serves as a popular wintering ground for bald eagles. The lake is surrounded by parks and campground and is one of the most accessible lakes in the state.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

National Scenic 7 Byway

If you have time for a detour, the National Scenic 7 Byway is named one of the “10 Best Drives in the U.S.” by Car and Driver Magazine. The route snakes through the Ozark National Forest, through Jasper and crosses the Buffalo National River.


Big Piney Creek

Big Piney Creek is one of the best float experiences in Arkansas. Offering Class I, II and III rapids, this small mountain stream is mighty popular among thrill-seekers. Canoeing is popular late October through mid-June and fishing is popular all year long.


Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Wiederkehr Village

This quaint little town offers German and European flare and is home to three of Arkansas’s most well-known wineries. The Wiederkehr Weinkeller Restaurant serves Swiss-German cuisine by candlelight in the original wine cellar hand-dug by Johann Andreas Wiederkehr in 1880.

Van Buren

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Van Buren Downtown Historic District

This Victorian Main Street has been beautifully preserved and contains six blocks of shops, eateries and attractions.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Arkansas & Missouri Railroad

The Old Frisco Depot is home to the Van Buren Visitors Center and a boarding location for the Arkansas Missouri Railroad. The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad offers scenic excursions through the foothills of the Ozark Boston Mountains.

Cover photo by Dave Worley, CC by 2.o

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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4 responses to “10 Must-Visit Towns along I-40 in Arkansas”

  1. TERRY says:

    I-40s Exit 78 is an overlooked gem. Situated just west of Russellville, the very top of the exit has an unparalleled panoramic view of Lake Dardanelle, distant Mt Nebo, Arkansas Nuclear One (the state’s only nuclear power plant, and the “Trail of Tears” Cherokee Crossing on Rt 64 bisecting the lake and the Illinois Bayou. It is unfortunate that the state didn’t use this area as a scenic overlook. Without a doubt, it possesses the best views in all of Arkansas along I-40.

  2. Dolly Graham says:

    Nice article, but when did Wiederkehr become a town?

  3. […] and my in-laws reside in Oklahoma City, which is pretty much a five-hour, straight shot drive down I-40. So, when we decided to make a recent trek from one capital city to another, I wanted to make sure […]

  4. […] hiking trails, scenic drives, and opportunities for water sports throughout the region. The Buffalo National River is the first national river in the United States and offers majestic views and activities such as […]

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