Family-Friendly Road Trips in North Central Arkansas

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Buffalo National River
Buffalo National River

The diversity of landscape found in North Central Arkansas provides for endless adventure, making it a perfect destination for family road trips. There are opportunities for outdoor recreation for all ages and great eats to be found along the way too.

Here are several destinations packed with things to do -- from floating and fishing to zip lining and rock climbing, to hiking, biking, sightseeing and more. Choose one for a weekend getaway or combine several together to build an itinerary for an active week full of fun.

Heber springs

Where to go: Greers Ferry Lake, Little Red River, Greers Ferry Dam and Visitor CenterCollins Creek, Sugarloaf Mountain, Magness Lake, Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery, Big Creek Natural Area, Bridal Veil Falls.

Don’t miss: Sandy Beach, home to an annual and spectacular fireworks show and the annual cardboard boat races. This five-acre beach has more than 1,500 feet of shoreline of white sand and crystal clear water. The beach provides a fantastic playground for all ages along the pristine shore of Greers Ferry Lake. 

Nearby: Fairfield Bay and Greers Ferry

Summer fun on Sandy Beach in Heber Springs, ArkansasSandy Beach in Heber Springs, Arkansas

Mountain View

Blanchard Springs Cavern wild cave tourBlanchard Springs Caverns

Where to go: Ozark Folk Center State Park, Blanchard Springs Recreation Area, OK Trading Post horse trail riding, Mellon’s Country Store, Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail, Arkansas Craft Gallery, Barkshed Recreation Area, Stone Drive-In, downtown square, Mirror Lake, Sylamore Trail Rides, Sylamore Creek, North Sylamore Creek Trail, Ozark National Forest.

Don’t miss: Blanchard Springs Caverns, a living cave with glistening stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstones still changing as minerals are deposited on them by dripping water. Stroll through large, beautifully lighted rooms with handrails and paved trails or take the wild cave tour.

Nearby: Calico Rock and Batesville

Mammoth Spring

Where to go: Spring River, Mammoth Spring State Park, Gateway Gap Rock ’N’ Roll Highway, Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery.

Don’t Miss: Mammoth Spring, one of the world’s largest springs with nine million gallons of water flowing hourly. It forms a 10-acre lake, then runs southward as the Spring River, a famous Ozark trout and float stream. The city is named for this National Natural Landmark. Remnants of a mill and hydroelectric plant are part of the area history. Adding to the things to do here are a playground, picnic area, baseball field, walking trail, 1886 Frisco train depot and museum, Arkansas Welcome Center, and gift shop.

Nearby: Hardy and Cherokee Village

Mammoth Spring

Mountain Home area

Fishing on Lake Norfork in Arkansas

Things to Do: Bull Shoals Lake, Mountain Village 1890, Bull Shoals Cavern, Mountain Home Berry Farm, Big Creek Golf & Country Club, Norfork Lake, White River, Dry Run Creek,, North Fork River, Big Air, Jacob Wolf House.

Don’t miss:  Norfork National Fish Hatchery, the state’s most productive fish facility. Take a tour and learn how millions of trout are grown and stocked annually into Arkansas waterways. Established in 1955, this cold water hatchery is responsible for raising three kinds of trout: rainbow, brown and cutthroat.

Nearby: Lakeview, Bull Shoals and Norfork

Buffalo National River

Things to Do: Ghost town at Rush Historic District; Tyler Bend Visitor Center, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Buffalo River Canopy Tours, Ponca Elk Education Center,

Don’t miss: The unique offerings of the upper, middle and lower sections of the Buffalo. The nation’s first national river meanders through the Ozarks for almost 135 miles and offers towering limestone bluffs, easy water and whitewater rapids, historic homesteads, canoe/kayak outfitters, campsites, hiking and horseback riding trails and cabin rentals.

Nearby: Ponca, Jasper, Compton, Boxley, Gilbert, St. Joe and Yellville

Buffalo National RiverHorseshoe Canyon Ranch