Christmas in Cotter

Cotter Bridge
Cotter Bridge

Cotter is a well-known river town in North Arkansas offering excellent trout fishing amid incredible scenery. Come December, Cotter adds to its appeal with Christmas finery that ranges from Christmas trees in the park to the lighting of the Cotter Bridge.

Christmas in Cotter events and decor make for quintessential small town fun during the month of December. Businesses and families decorate trees in Big Spring Park for a contest. There are also awards for the best decorated houses. Adding to the dazzling holiday display are the Peitz River Lights shining on the Cotter Bridge. Visit the city’s website for details on holiday events.

Cotter Bridge

Built in 1930, Cotter Bridge is the only bridge in Arkansas known to be designed and engineered by the Marsh Engineering Company, a significant 20th-century bridge-building company. Among the largest they ever designed, it is also an excellent example and single surviving example in Arkansas of the company’s patented Marsh Rainbow Arch. A unique feature of the bridge is that it was constructed using a cableway, suspended across the river to transport all materials to various parts of the structure.

Every angle of the bridge offers profound beauty, not only because of its design, but also because of its location spanning the renowned White River in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. The bridge brought access to relatively unseen parts of the region that has become a huge recreational area for the U.S.

Consisting of five arches, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was rehabilitated in 2004. Its formal name is the R.M. Ruthven Bridge, and it takes travelers throughout beautiful countryside on U.S. 62 west of the city of Cotter. It became Arkansas’ first National Civil Engineering Landmark in 1986.


A railroad boom town that sprang up in the early 20th century, Cotter was once the largest town in North Arkansas. Today it bills itself as the “Trout Capital of the USA.”

The clear cold waters flowing along the banks of Cotter attract anglers in search of trophy trout. Fly fishermen, spin casters, experts and novices visit from around the world to cast into the White River for rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat trout.

America's best trout fishing in terms of the number and size of trout it produces is quite possibly the upper White River. Three to five pound brown trout are common. Rainbows of 11 to 16 inches are plentiful. With a mild climate in all four seasons, Arkansas has year-round fishing. There's plenty of public access available, and excellent shore or wade fishing depending on water levels. Excellent guide services abound as well.

A significant attraction along the White River in Cotter is Big Spring Park. It contains a two-mile walking trail that follows the river upstream to the Denton Ferry site, which is a part of the Trail of Tears. Or head downstream across the walking bridge. The park contains picnic areas, a playground, swimming hole, boat ramp and more. Also at the park is the Anglin-Tinnon Railroad Workers' Memorial, an impressive array of displays to honor the men who worked on the White River route of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern railroads, which later became the Missouri Pacific. It contains two cabooses, a conductor's statue, a history of the town and the names of railroaders engraved in stone.