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These Northwest Arkansas fall day trips are perfect experiences for families, couples or friends looking to explore the region. With school back in session and the colors changing, many people are looking for experiences to make memories while still being conscious of safe social distancing practices. Most of these destinations have an outside experience with a new lens for sharing space with others.
There are multiple ways to explore this national park as the ideal fall and social distancing destination. Most visitors take the main loop road and drive through, stopping at each pull off and exploring the wayfinding signs, but Pea Ridge also offers walking trails and a horse trail that leads explorers through the battlefield and along the Elk Horn Ridge. Another way to explore is to leave the car at the visitor center and walk up to Elk Horn Tavern. Especially on a chilly fall morning, the foot route offers a unique perspective of the park.
For families with littles, this is an especially great outing. The drive over is a perfect naptime ride, and parents can grab a fun bite to eat and enjoy it en route. While adjustments to precautions keep visitors in their car for the entire experience, families can still enjoy the 4-mile loop and drive by the petting parks to encounter animals up close.
The park comes alive during the autumn season with amber hues on trees and extended views across the valley, watching fall foliage turn and change almost daily. Sunrise in the rock house at the scenic overlook is as picturesque as any moment on an Arkansas mountain. If you’ve not started your Arkansas State Parks Passport, this is a good destination for your inaugural stamp.
Considered a sacred space by multiple Native American tribes, the springs circulate 38 million (yep, you read that right!) gallons of water each day. Feeding trout from the dock, circling through the medicinal gardens and exploring the shelter bluff create the environment for tranquility and pushing away cares of the world.
The Ponca area and Buffalo River Valley is the ultimate Northwest Arkansas destination in the fall. With colors reminiscent of a New England hillside, a one-day excursion can turn in to a weekend of exploring Hawksbill Craig, Lost Valley Waterfall, Buffalo River trails with dawn and dusk spent in the Boxley Valley watching elk interact.
While being inside is still a little complicated for some, here everyone can experience art in the outdoors. And, not just beautiful trees and seasonal flowers, but the kind of art that comes to life in a natural setting where iron sculptures embrace trees and concrete domes naturally interact with sunlight.
Take to the water on a paddleboat or spend the day playing in the park and exploring the trails of Lake Leatherwood. The city and state parks are known for its bird-watching and wildlife. The boathouse has fishing equipment and tools that can be rented for the day while exploring the area. Don’t miss the perfect morning mountain photo from the boat ramp with fog rising over the lily pads.
This destination is excellent for anyone who loves history, is discovering more about the Trail of Tears, or has a little train lover in tow. Start by exploring the main old fort grounds and gallows site, but make sure to cross over the railroad tracks and continue to the original fort site and the river’s edge trail. The main walking trail will continue to the city park, US Marshalls Museum and Miss Laura’s Visitor Center. Or, head back to the parking lot and check out the Trolley Museum before leaving.
While many forget to drive to the north edge of Arkansas, two peaceful destinations reside in this famous golfing community. Tanyard Loop is a 2.5-mile track with a waterfall as the leading destination. Pay attention to signage and explore the butterfly and wildflower garden and the creek bottoms formed by water runoff after a particularly rainy season. Cooper Chapel is just down the road, and while sitting and meditating in the chapel is the real treat, walking the trails around the grounds is a worship experience all their own.
Get out and explore Arkansas. Fall is a beautiful time when the Natural State seems to snuggle into its own and show off a display it’s been working on all year.
Other ways to experience Fall in the Natural State include:
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