Among the Most Scenic Drives in America
Drive Scenic Byway 7 in Arkansas, the state's first
state-designated scenic byway, and travel through four of the state's
varied geographical regions. Arguably one of the most scenic drives in America, the route begins on the south end within the West Gulf Coastal Plain, a region that saw an oil boom beginning in 1921 near El Dorado. It continues to Camden and on to Arkadelphia through rolling terrain with dense pine forests and stream valleys with bottomland hardwood forests.
Near Arkadelphia, the route enters the Ouachita Mountains, famous for their quartz crystals, and passes by DeGray Lake, home of Arkansas's only resort state park. At Hot Springs, the byway journeys through the historic downtown and immediately in front of the famed Bath House Row of Hot Springs National Park. Continuing though the forested Ouachitas, it passes through the Ouachita National Forest and by Lake Nimrod, then reaches Russellville and crosses the more level terrain of the Arkansas River Valley.
Leaving the valley, Scenic 7 ascends into the Ozark Mountains, famous for fall foliage, and the Ozark National Forest, and passes through the mountain town of Jasper on its way to Harrison.
Just before Scenic 7 sharply twists its way down to Jasper, stop at
the Cliff House Inn and Restaurant, for a great meal and amazing vistas
of the "Grand Canyon of the Ozarks." A quaint small town square boasting several antique shops awaits visitors at Jasper.
Across from the Newton County Courthouse is a legendary diner -- the
Ozark Cafe. Originally opened in 1909, it is, as the sign on the front
says, "A North Arkansas Landmark." It's a place where swapping stories
over cups of coffee is as important to the locals as getting a good
plate of inexpensive food.
A little farther north, hanging baskets of flowers and awnings accentuate old brick storefronts that line the Harrison
square, which with a few adjacent buildings, make up its national
historic district. The flavor of the city is reflected in the Main
Street Harrison Historic Walking Tour, which includes downtown parks,
the historic Lyric Theater, the 1909 Boone County courthouse, the 1914 Boone County Jail, and the completely restored 1929 Hotel Seville.
Downtown Harrison also embraces restaurants, an art gallery, antique
stores, and other retail shops. In addition, the town has the Boone County
Heritage Museum and Mystic Caverns.
LENGTH: 290 miles.
THINGS TO KNOW:
Shopping, lodging and dining can be found in the byway's major cities: El Dorado,
Arkadelphia, Hot Springs,
Jasper and Harrison,
and in smaller communities along the way. Lodges, cabins and
campgrounds are available in the various state parks listed below under
"Major Area Attractions." Camping is also available at U.S.
Forest Service recreation areas within the Ouachita and
Ozark national forests and at U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers' recreation areas on DeGray Lake,
Lake Nimrod and Lake Dardanelle
on the Arkansas River. Private resorts, cabins and other lodging, as well as dining options, are also available.
MAJOR AREA ATTRACTIONS:
REGIONAL TOURISM INFORMATION: