Ozark Folk Center & White River Three-Day Tour

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Ozark Folk Center
Ozark Folk Center

Looking for an Ozark weekend getaway or a quick escape from the everyday? The Ozarks are a treasure trove of culture and outdoor adventure. Scattered atop and around a wooded hill, just north of Mountain View, the Ozark Folk Center which became the 30th state park when it opened in 1973. The Center offers a rare glimpse of traditional Ozark folkways with music, songs, dancing, cabin skills, workshops, contests, special events and celebrations. The White River (origin to Bull Shoals Lake) meanders in direction from its headwaters near Fayetteville and up through southern Missouri to its reentry in Arkansas as it heads southeast past Cotter and Batesville. It runs through this mountainous region of the Ozarks before tumbling into the Delta. In its entire 720-mile journey, the river's flow is interrupted by at least eight dams, six in Arkansas and two more in Missouri. Whether you’re traveling with friends or family, this three-day itinerary is the perfect guide to unforgettable vacations in northern Arkansas.

Day 1

Depart Little Rock via U.S. 67-167, north through Jacksonville, to Exit 16. Take Arkansas Highway 5, north through the Ozark foothills to Heber Springs. Remain on Hwy. 5 as it joins Hwy. 25 and continues north to our first stop.

  • The William Carl Garner Visitor Center is the official gateway to the Greers Ferry Lake and Little Red River region. The center offers museum exhibits, a movie, and travel information.
  • Continue across the huge concrete dam (which serves as a bridge) and stop for a moment at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park. JFK dedicated the 40,000-acre lake project in October 1963, only a few weeks prior to his death in Dallas.
  • Follow Arkansas 5-25, another 14 miles, turn left on Hwy. 5 to Mountain View. Signs direct travelers through the little mountain town to the Ozark Folk Center State Park. Now one of the most popular Ozark attractions, this state park opened in 1973 to preserve the folkways and music of the pioneers who settled the Ozarks in the early 19th century. Traditional skills, such as blacksmithing, weaving, furniture making and 15 others crafts are demonstrated each day through late October. Old-time music is performed, and one of the state’s largest herb gardens is maintained on the park grounds. The park includes a restaurant, gift shop and lodge.

Day 2

  • After a night at the Folk Center, there will be time to visit the courthouse square in downtown Mountain View. Fine craft shops, antiques, music stores and restaurants are located around the historic old square where musicians often gather for free musicals.
  • Following lunch, our tour re-joins Hwys. 5-9-14 northward to Blanchard Springs Caverns, ranked among the most beautiful natural discoveries of the 20th century. The highly decorated limestone cavern was developed with great care by the U.S. Forest Service and is open throughout the year. These gorgeous limestone caverns are one of the top Ozark attractions, drawing thousands of visitors every year.
  • Back on Hwy. 5, our route follows the famous White River to Calico Rock. Nestled on the limestone bluffs overlooking the scenic river, Calico Rock has maintained its 1930s charm, and visitors are welcome to browse the gift and antique shops in the historic downtown.
  • Continue along Hwy. 5 (a scenic mountainous road) to Norfork, site of one of the oldest homes in the state. The Wolf House, built in the early 19th century, overlooks the White River. 
  • Stay on Hwy. 5 through Mountain Home and to Midway. Here, take Hwy. 178 to Lakeview, on the shore of massive Bull Shoals Lake. Follow the signs to Bull Shoals/White River State Park and enjoy a driving tour of the popular park.

Day 3

  • Depart after breakfast and travel Hwy. 167 across the huge Bull Shoals Dam and through the resort communities along the route. At Flippin, turn west on U.S. 62 and motor through the rolling hill country and deep valleys of the Ozarks to U.S. 65, south of Harrison.
  • Turn south on U.S. 65 and watch for the interesting roadside attractions as the route winds through the hills to the Buffalo National River. Watch for signs after crossing the nation’s first designated scenic river (part of the National Park Service), and turn off the highway for a visit to the Tyler Bend Visitor Center to take a dip in the water and learn about the history and natural wonders of the Buffalo River Valley.
  • Back on U.S. 65, continue southward through the little towns until reaching Conway. Take I-40 back into Little Rock in time for dinner.
Buffalo National River
Buffalo National River