The Peaks & Valleys, plus three other frontier tours
A sunny October day was the perfect backdrop for a road trip west, the purpose of which was to conquer Frontier Tour #3, Peaks and Valleys.
One of the highlights of this journey is getting to and traversing up and down and across Mount Magazine. From Little Rock, the scenic route takes you along AR 10; think rolling countryside, dotted with cows, hay bales and barns. It’s a peaceful and easy drive that takes an exciting turn on AR 309 in Havana, on to the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway. The long and winding ride will make you giddy with its switchbacks and zigzags as you ascend the state’s highest peak. Imagine how hard it would be on a bicycle. There weren’t any road cyclists on this particular afternoon. There were, however, many motorcyclists. At the top, several had pulled over to take photos from the overlook. It is a worthwhile pause to admire Blue Mountain Lake in the hazy blue distance.
From there, the lodge is not far. It appears suddenly out of nowhere, and you can't help but be impressed by the building and its setting. Massive double doors open automatically, inviting you inside.
Inside, guests lounge in the sunny sitting room. The restaurant and bar have generous hours and offer good food. The lodge is an ideal setting for groups with its scenic location, luxury accommodations and state park programs like guided hikes and nature study. It is one of the finest places to stay in the Arkansas State Parks system. State park cabins and campsites are available for rental nearby as well. The park also draws avid adventurers, as it is well-known for its technical rock climbing and hang gliding, and is one of only two Arkansas parks with a hang gliding launch ramp.
When you visit scenic Mt. Magazine, bring your sense of wonder and love of the outdoors but also allow for downtime to truly appreciate the balance of activity and serenity here.
The endpoint of this tour is Waldron, and more specifically, the Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival. Held every summer and fall, it brings the biggest bluegrass acts in the country to the small Arkansas town.
Whether you go west for the music, the lakes, the views, or the mountain, and in the spring, fall, or any time of the year, a road trip through Western Arkansas' Mountain Frontier is always a good idea.