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Arkansas’s Affordable Spring Break Ideas


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Blanchard Spring Caverns
Blanchard Spring Caverns
    Buffalo River Float Trip
Buffalo River Float Trip
       
 
Buffalo River Canopy Tours
Buffalo River Canopy Tours
    White River at Bull Shoals
White River at Bull Shoals
       
 
Delta Rivers Nature Center
Delta Rivers Nature Center
    Sunrise at Lake Chicot
Sunrise at Lake Chicot
       
 
Loco Ropes at the Ozark Folk Center
Loco Ropes at the Ozark Folk Center
    Hang Gliding at Mount Magazine
Hang Gliding at Mount Magazine
       
 
Saracen Landing in Pine Bluff
Saracen Landing in Pine Bluff
    Bobcat at Turpentine Creek in Eureka Springs
Bobcat at Turpentine Creek in Eureka Springs
   
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Contributing Writers: Jill Rohrbach, Kerry Kraus, Kim Williams and Zoie Clift
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Geocaching Along the Great River Road – Why not hunt for treasure during spring break? Using clues and coordinates, geocaching provides fun for all ages and the thrill of finding the elusive cache. Grab your young “pirates,” your hiking boots and your GPS and head to Arkansas’s Great River Road for a geocaching escapade! The modern-day scavenger hunt promises hours or days of fun! The scenic byway runs along eastern Arkansas’s border along the historic Mississippi River and offers wonderful opportunities to experience Arkansas’s Delta. The 25 Arkansas Great River Road caches will take you to notable historical sites in Blytheville, Osceola, Wilson, Tyronza, West Memphis, Horseshoe Lake, Forrest City, Brinkley, Marianna, Helena-West Helena, Trenton, St. Charles, Arkansas City, Rohwer, McGehee, Dumas, Pickens, Jerome, Lake Village and Eudora. Along the way, experience some of the best barbecue, catfish and home cooking at diners, bistros and restaurants along the Great River Road. Whether you’ve got two days or just a couple of hours, log a few caches along the Great River Road.

Pine Bluff – For some affordable fun in The Natural State for spring break, head to Pine Bluff! Check out the Delta Rivers Nature Center, featuring exhibits on the natural history of the Arkansas Delta; a 20,000-gallon aquarium filled with native fish; and live turtles, snakes and alligators. The Arkansas Railroad Museum is home to Engine 819, the mighty locomotive built in Pine Bluff in 1942. The museum features a full-scale railroad depot and a variety of railroad memorabilia. The Arts and Science Center of Southeast Arkansas offers hands-on exhibitions for kids, live productions throughout the year, acting classes and theatre camps for kids, and works by local, regional and national artists. The Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum offers visitors a glimpse into Pine Bluff’s history, including exhibits on the Civil War and World War II, antique dolls, and farming implements from the past. The museum is located in a restored Union Station train depot. Learn more about the famous musicians, writers, and performers who called Arkansas home at the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame. See memorabilia including musical instruments, costumes, personal items and gold records of some of Arkansas’s native sons and daughters who took the world by storm! If you feel like doing a little fishing, check out Saracen Landing, located along the banks of Lake Saracen in downtown Pine Bluff. The $4.2 million park facility offers public fishing access and boat launch access. It’s also home to special events throughout the year, including the Pine Bluff Farmers Market. And don’t miss the cool fountain that shoots water 40 feet into the air!

Lake Chicot - A former main channel of the Mississippi River, Lake Chicot is the largest oxbow lake in North America. The lake and its environs are one of the state’s top-rated birding areas. Lake Chicot State Park, located on the northeastern shore of the 20-mile-long lake, offers cabins, campsites, a marina, boat rentals, levee tours and barge tours of the lake for sunset and wildlife viewing. The visitor center interprets the area’s history and natural resources through exhibits and programs. Bicycles and pedal boats are available for rent. On Ark. 144, eight miles northeast of Lake Village. For more information visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com or phone 870-265-5480.

Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway - Created by water, wind and glacier action over the past 50 million years, the ridge is a series of tree-covered rolling hills stretching nearly 200 miles, north to south, in the midst of the great Arkansas delta. Geologists proclaim it one of the great natural oddities of the world. Since the arrival of settlers in the early 19th Century the ridge has served as a recreational retreat. Crowley's Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway is of only 125 distinct and diverse roads designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. From St. Francis to Helena, the route passes by or near the home where Ernest Hemingway wrote portions of “A Farewell to Arms,” six state parks, a national forest, Civil War sites, historic homes, museums, rich agricultural areas, and the Delta Cultural Center. Activities along the route include lake fishing, picnicking, hiking, geocaching, and boating. Cabins, campgrounds, bathhouses, playgrounds, and visitor centers can be found at the state parks. Jonesboro, the largest city on the parkway, has shopping districts, a historic downtown, a civic center, plus Arkansas State University with its public museum, art gallery and convocation center. Jonesboro is also home to the Forrest L. Wood Crowley's Ridge Nature Center. The center offers self-guided trail walks that allow visitors to see plants and animals in habitats ranging from wetlands to prairie to forest. Don’t miss the video explaining the formation of Crowley’s Ridge. The parkway and Crowley’s Ridge end at Helena at the Mississippi River. Handsome antebellum and Victorian homes stand on the gentle slopes just before the ridge disappears into the delta. Lodging at hotels and bed and breakfast inns is also available. For information about the parkway visit www.deltabyways.com or call 870-972-2803.

Buffalo National River - Spring and early summer are the prime times to float the Buffalo National River, although the lower section can be floated year-round. The first stream to receive the designation (1972), the Buffalo flows roughly 150 miles and includes nearly 95,000 acres of public land along its corridor. The river descends nearly 2,000 feet through layers of sandstone, limestone and chert. Hidden away, ready for discovery, are other geologic marvels, springs, caves, waterfalls, natural bridges and box-like canyons, where trails are abundant. Numerous outfitters (for canoeing, rafting, horseback riding and fishing) service the river, and there are several campgrounds, cabins, motels and other lodging options nearby. For more information visit www.arkansas.com/outdoors/canoeing-rafting-kayaking/ or phone 870-741-5443.

Arkansas North by Northwest - A glittering gem of northwest Arkansas, Beaver Lake’s 28,000 acres of clear water attract thousands of water sport lovers, fishermen, hikers and birdwatchers. The lake is surrounded by forests, tall bluffs and meadows crisscrossed by hiking trails. Campgrounds, resorts, marinas, outfitters, restaurants and shops serve the lake area, which is located in the Ozark Highlands near Rogers, Eureka Springs, Springdale and Fayetteville. Trout fishing on the White River is popular below Beaver Dam. Rogers has a variety of retail stores in its historic downtown district that covers eight square blocks. Brick-paved streets lead to old-fashioned storefronts filled with unique furniture, antiques and gifts, to cafes, and to the Daisy International Air Museum and the Rogers Historical Museum. Springdale is the place to catch a ride on the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad in a beautifully restored turn-of-the-century passenger car. Its downtown is also home to the Shiloh Museum, which offers Ozark history and buildings dating back to the 1850s. The Fayetteville square is known for its colorful gardens, unique shops, and Farmer’s Market that runs three days a week beginning in spring. Just blocks away, Dickson Street is the hip place for shopping, dining locales and tons of live music venues. Completing the scene are symphony concerts and dance and theatrical performances at the Walton Arts Center. For more information on Rogers visit www.rogerslowell.com or phone 479-636-1240. For more information on Springdale visit www.springdale.com or phone 479-872-2222. For more information on Fayetteville visit www.experiencefayetteville.com or phone 800-766-4626.

Eureka Springs – Haunted hotels, great food, unique shops, natural springs and homes built on the sides of rock cliffs make up this picturesque town. Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs’ entire downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s packed with attractions such as gardens, caves, an exotic wildlife ranch, live music, and train excursion rides. Unique boutiques offer everything under the sun – antiques, fine art, contemporary and vintage clothing, handmade crafts, fine art and more. A portion of history is uniquely preserved through ghost tours at the Crescent Hotel and Basin Park Hotel, two of the historic hotels. Eureka Springs has been named one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information visit www.eurekasprings.org or phone 1-800-6EUREKA.

Mount Magazine State Park – Near Paris, the highest point in Arkansas rises from the Arkansas River Valley to an elevation of 2,753 feet. It offers hang gliding, rappelling, rock climbing, horseback riding, camping and hiking. The mountain’s main road has bicycle lanes, and from its eight scenic overlooks visitors can see hundreds of miles of beautiful forested lands and mountains. It is also known for its outstanding butterfly population. A visitor center has an exhibit gallery and gift shop. Thirteen cabins, a 60-room lodge with restaurant and conference center, plus an indoor swimming pool, exercise room, and gift shop make it a perfect place to take a break. Nearby, Blue Mountain Lake offers more camping and outdoor recreation. Mount Magazine Scenic Byway leads travelers across the top of Mount Magazine and past the Cove Lake Recreation Area and the Cove Lake Trail. For more information visit www.MountMagazineStatePark.com or phone 479-963-8502.

Blanchard Springs Caverns – Ranked among the most beautiful underground discoveries of the 20th Century, Blanchard Springs Caverns is located deep in the Ozark National Forest, 15 miles north of Mountain View. It is the only developed cave system operated by the U.S. Forest Service and is open throughout the year. Lighted walkways lead to stunning limestone formations and massive rooms, one as long as six football fields. For the more adventurous, Blanchard Springs also offers guided hikes into undeveloped reaches of the federally protected underground system. Helmets, lights, gloves and kneepads are provided for the four-hour tour. Reservations are required for the Wild Cave Adventure. (Reservations are recommended, but not required, for normal cave tours.) Blanchard Springs Recreational Use Area provides scenic campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, a massive natural spring and a trout-stocked lake. Located off Ark. 14 near the town of Fifty-Six. For more information visit www.BlanchardCaveTours.com or phone 1 (888) 757-2246.

White River and Bull Shoals Lake – Another favorite family destination, Bull Shoals has almost 1,000 miles of rugged shoreline. People come to fish, scuba dive, houseboat, water ski, camp, hike and relax. Camping and picnic facilities can be found around the lake. Fishing on Bull Shoals is excellent all year with peak action in March, April and May. Internationally famous for its beauty and great fishing, the White River flows through the Ozark Mountains and across the Delta (over 700 miles) before joining the Mississippi River. Trout fishing below the dam, which is the fifth largest concrete dam in the U.S., is a major draw. Resorts and full-service marinas are available as are many accommodations and guide services. For more information visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com or phone the Corps of Engineers at 870-425-2700 or the State Park at 870-431-5521.

Buffalo River Canopy Tour – This guided zip line canopy tour let’s you experience the flora and fauna that is unique to the Ozark Mountain hardwood forest. The tour is a system of cables and platforms, wherein the participant "glides" or "zips" through the treetops while connected to the cable via a harness. A large wooden platform serves as a landing base in each tree that you "zip to." The canopy tour facility was built in accordance with Association of Challenge Course Technology recommended guidelines. The tour takes approximately three hours. The total length of the course is the equivalent of about 7.3 football fields, or 2,200 feet long. It consists of seven zips. The elevation ranges from 40 to 60 feet above the ground. Reservations are required. Group discounts and private group tours are available. The tour is located at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca. For more information call 800-221-5514 or visit www.buffaloriver.com.

Loco Ropes at Ozark Folk Center State Park – Loco Ropes is a multi-faceted treetop adventure with 30-plus challenges on a high wire zip line course. This family-friendly attraction excites adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts, alike. Participants swing, zip, and leap from tree to tree. Adventurers will remain safely connected to a cable wire using cutting edge technology. For those looking for an introduction into their adrenaline fueled world, they can try the Flying Pig – Loco Ropes’ dual 300-foot zip lines, named after the historic locomotive. Loco Ropes is located off Ark. 5, 9 and 14 at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View. Call 888-669-6717 or visit www.locoropes.com for more information. Cabin reservations can be made at www.ozarkfolkcenter.com.

The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival – Lasting from March 20-26 in Hot Springs, this multi-day festival takes place in various venues around town each night. The event attracts bands from around the world and organizers are saying it's becoming a pit stop for those making the trek to or from the South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX. For more information visit www.valleyofthevapors.com.

The 43rd annual Jonquil Festival takes place March 18-20 in Washington at Historic Washington State Park. This three-day festival heralds the coming of spring to southwest Arkansas. Thousands of jonquils welcome crafters, entertainers, and visitors to the park. More details can be found at historicwashingtonstatepark.com

Hot Springs – The First Ever Eighth Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade takes place on March 17 in Hot Springs. The parade is held annually on Bridge Street and includes floats, dancers, belly dancers, the Irish Order of Elvi, Irish Wolfhounds and more. The celebrity grand marshal is John Corbett.
Hot Springs, the boyhood home of former U.S. President Bill Clinton, also hosts a national park, a Thoroughbred racetrack, a 210-acre botanical garden, and a thriving arts community. Fishing, water-skiing, sailing, boating, and scuba diving are popular lake activities. Three area lakes – Hamilton, Catherine and Ouachita – accommodate water-based recreation, private resorts and two state parks. Oaklawn Park offers live racing from late January to mid-April and simulcast races during the rest of the year. The Tulip Extravaganza takes place at Garvan Woodland Gardens March 21-April 3. Approximately 100,000 vibrantly hued tulips will line the Flowering Border and Camellia Trail. This lavish floral display is one of the most anticipated events of the year for the gardens. Hot Springs and Hot Springs National Park owe their existence to an array of springs that still supply naturally heated water for thermal bathers. The Fordyce Bathhouse, located on famous Bathhouse Row, serves as the park’s visitor center. For more information on Oaklawn Park visit www.oaklawn.com or phone 1-800-OAKLAWN; for more information on Garvan Woodland Gardens visit www.garvengardens.org. The Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau provides information on other attractions and area lakes at www.hotsprings.org or by phone at 1-800-SPA-CITY.

DeGray Lake – The 13,800-acre lake, about eight miles north of Arkadelphia, is home to the only resort state park in Arkansas. The lodge at DeGray Lake Resort State Park is on an island accessible via a causeway. The park also includes a golf course, a riding stable, campgrounds and hiking trails. Visitors can rent watercraft at the park marina or can launch their own craft for free. Sailing, fishing, jet-skiing, and boating are popular DeGray activities. Also located on the lake are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreational areas, most of which have campsites. Iron Mountain Lodge and Marina has fully-equipped lakeside cottages and its own full-service marina stocked with ski boats, party barges, small fishing boats and houseboats. In Arkadelphia, visitors will find a variety of restaurants and, between the town’s two universities, a planetarium, galleries and available theatrical and musical performances. For more information on the State park visit www.degray.com or phone 501- 865-2801. For more information on Corps of Engineers sites phone 501- 246-5501. For more information on Arkadelphia phone the Chamber of Commerce at 870- 246-5542.

Crater of Diamonds State Park – North America’s largest diamond (40.23 carats) and more than 70,000 other diamonds have been found in a field southeast of Murfreesboro since farmer John Huddleston discovered the first gems in the field in 1906. Now the eroding surface of a volcanic pipe located about three miles southeast of Murfreesboro is preserved as Crater of Diamonds State Park, the world’s only site where anyone can dig for diamonds and keep what they find. Diamond displays and exhibits detailing the site’s history and geology can be found in the park’s visitor center. The park also has a campground, a hiking trail, a picnic and play area, and a seasonal “Diamond Springs” water park. A rainbow-trout fishery is located on the Little Missouri River below the Narrows Dam around nine miles north of the park. For more information visit www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com or phone 870-285-3113.

Lake Ouachita - Arkansas’s largest reservoir at 40,000 acres, Lake Ouachita offers fishing for striped and largemouth bass and other sport fish in the midst of outstanding scenery. It is also a popular destination for scuba diving, boating, sailing and water skiing. A number of private resorts with marinas are located on its shores. Lake Ouachita State Park has a marina, rental cabins, campsites and hiking trails and interpretive programs. Numerous U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas are also located on the lake, which was formed by the completion of Blakely Mountain Dam in the early 1950s. For more information on the resorts visit www.mtidachamber.com or phone 870- 867-2723. For more information on Lake Ouachita State Park visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com or phone 501-767-9366. For the Corps of Engineers phone 501-767-2101.

Queen Wilhelmina State Park – Sitting atop Arkansas’s second highest peak and located on the byway 13 miles west of Mena, Queen Wilhelmina State Park’s lodge accommodates travelers , a restaurant and gift shop. A miniature golf course, miniature train rides and hiking trails, lined with colorful wildflowers in the spring, provide family activities. Guests using the park’s campground often include hikers traversing the 223- mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail which runs through the park. For more information on Queen Wilhelmina State Park visit www.queenwilhelmina.com or phone 479- 394-2863.

Ouachita National Forest - Within the 1.8 million-acre Ouachita National Forest (est. 1907) are back roads and hiking trails that provide visitors with an up-close experience of the aged mountains. The forest hosts six wilderness areas (five in AR and one in OK) and two Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Talimena National Scenic Byway winds along the top of Winding Stair and Rich Mountains on its way into Arkansas. Other highlights in the forest include the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which traverses a lengthy 223 miles across the region, and the Womble Trail, one of the most popular single-track mountain bike routes in the nation. For more information visit www.fs.fed.us/r8/ouachita. For more information on the Talimena Scenic Byway visit www.talimenascenicdrive.com.

Little Rock/North Little Rock - The big city hosts numerous attractions, including the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Old State House Museum, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, and the Museum of Discovery. The River Market District offers fine accommodations, dining and shopping. Heifer Village is a $13.5 million project, an interactive global education facility designed as a sustainable and environmentally sensitive building. Adjacent wetlands, which support native species, complement the building’s design. More than 700 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are on display at the Little Rock Zoo. Don’t miss the chance to ride a one-of-a-kind antiquity, the restored Over the Jumps Carousel, the only one of its kind still in existence and located at the zoo.

La Petite Roche Plaza offers a scenic new area along the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. It highlights the “little rock” for which the capital city is named. History panels along paved pathways plus landscaping with native plants complete the park.

You can take your own Black History tour of Little Rock by visiting Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and accompanying museum across the street, EMOBA-The Museum of Black Arkansans, Testament: the Little Rock Nine Memorial on the State Capitol grounds, and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Across the Arkansas River in North Little Rock, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum now has a replica of a ship’s bridge just for kids. It contains a combination of controls from an ocean-going ship and a river tugboat. The museum is also home port for the USS Razorback submarine, open for tours. Not far away is the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, complete with interactive exhibits, located on the ground level of Verizon Arena.

The Junction Pedestrian Bridge downtown and the Big Dam Bridge in west Little Rock allow visitors to amble, run, hike or walk from one town to the other. For more information on Little Rock visit www.littlerock.com or phone 800-844-4781. For more information on the Little Rock Zoo visit www.littlerockzoo.com or phone 501-666-2406. For more information on North Little Rock visit www.northlittlerock.travel/ or phone 501-758-1424.

Exploring Nature – Two Little Rock facilities provide visitors with opportunities to discover the complexity and beauty of The Natural State’s natural world. The Central Arkansas Nature Center is located on 3.4 acres in Little Rock, within Riverfront Park overlooking the Arkansas River. Exhibits highlight the role of fish and wildlife management and many of the projects conducted throughout the history of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The riverfront location provides many watchable wildlife opportunities within an urban area, including basking water turtles, butterflies and migrating pelicans. A portion of the Arkansas River Trail crosses the grounds offering more options for exploration. Beds of native plants found throughout the state are a major part of the landscaping, while the main building includes an exhibit hall, aquariums, a gift shop, a theater and a venue for special educational programs. For more information visit www.centralarkansasnaturecenter.com/ or phone 501-907-0636. The Little Rock Nature Center is an Audubon facility surrounded by Fourche Creek wetlands and the unique soils and plants of Granite Mountain in adjacent Gillam Park. The 2,000-acres available for use offer a vast and richly diverse outdoor lab for young people to learn about conservation, restoration, wildlife and plants. Trails designed for a variety of learning experiences surround the Center. For more information visit www.ar.audubon.org/naturecenterlr.html or phone 501-244-2229.

Cruisin’ Conway – Cadron Settlement Park explores frontier Arkansas with a recreated blockhouse, a historical mural, and Cherokee Trail of Tears exhibits. Kiddie Land, a petting zoo, music, antiques and a fudge factory make Pickles Gap Village just north of Conway a great place to visit.

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, 501-682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

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"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"

ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF PARKS & TOURISM
1 Capitol Mall, 4A-900 - Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 | 1-800-872-1259 or (501) 682-7777 (V/TT)
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