Where to Stay and Play in Arkansas during the 2024 Eclipse

Updated: 
Hot Springs
Hot Springs

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The 2024 solar eclipse cuts a wide swath through the middle of Arkansas, which makes The Natural State the perfect place to visit during the celestial event on April 8. 

Only two total eclipses have happened in Arkansas history - one in 1834 when Arkansas was still known as Arkansas Territory (two years later Arkansas became the 25th U.S. state) and the second in 1918. 

To experience the "total" phase of the eclipse, gazers must be in the narrow path of totality, which will run through the center of The Natural State from southwest to northeast. 

Here’s a look at some of the cities, their time in totality, and things to do before and after the big eclipse moment. This map shows all of Arkansas and the eclipse path if you want to discover additional viewing locations. Each city offers a variety of things to do before and after the big eclipse moment.

Make one of them your hub to watch the eclipse so you can stay and play from dark to day.

De Queen

Time in totality - 4m 17s

Fishing, camping and swimming on the "Tri-Lakes" are among the activities enjoyed by area residents and visitors. De Queen, Dierks and Gillham lakes range in size from 1,360 to 1,680 acres and each is home to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation areas with campgrounds. Also located near De Queen is the 27,500-acre Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge. The nearby small town of Gillham will actually have the longest duration of totality in Arkansas at 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Located in Sevier County, the area has numerous places to eat, stay, shop, and play in the area. Also, check out the plans for the Sevierly Dark Festival taking place during the eclipse.

Hot Springs

Time in totality - 3m 34s

Hot Springs and Hot Springs National Park owe their existence to an array of springs that still supply naturally heated water for thermal baths. The historic Fordyce Bathhouse, located on the famous Bathhouse Row, serves as the park's visitor center. Hot Springs National Park is the smallest and oldest of the parks in the National Park System. It dates back to 1832 when Congress established, 40 years ahead of Yellowstone, the first federally protected area in the nation's history. Hot Springs Reservation, which was renamed Hot Springs National Park in 1921, was created to protect the 47 naturally flowing thermal springs on the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain. Visiting the park is free.

Hot Springs is the boyhood home of former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The city is also home base to live thoroughbred racing and gaming at Oaklawn, Magic Springs/Crystal Falls theme and water parks, the 210-acre Garvan Woodland Gardens, the Gangster Museum of America, and a renowned arts community with plenty of gallery options. The Mid-America Science Museum is a great stop for families. Outdoor activities in the area include mountain biking, hiking, golf, horseback riding, fishing, digging for quartz crystals and water sports that center around the Diamond Lakes CatherineDeGrayGreeson, Hamilton and Ouachita. There are also a number of campgrounds just outside the city. More outdoor options can also be found at the Ouachita National Forest

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock

Little Rock

Time in totality - 2m 25s

Little Rock is the largest city in Arkansas and definitely the place to find a good time at a great value. The hub of Little Rock is the bustling River Market District, featuring restaurants, shops, bars, nightlife, museums and hotels. Focal points in the city include the Clinton Presidential Center & Park, the nearby world headquarters of Heifer International, and the Central Arkansas Nature Center.  All three properties are "green" buildings and offer special tours. The Clinton Presidential Park Wetlands have boardwalks winding throughout the preserve in downtown Little Rock. In the vicinity, you'll also find the family-friendly Museum of Discovery, which features an interactive indoor playground for young and old. A ride in the METRO Streetcar will take you through the River Market District and into North Little Rock.

Arts and culture mavens will love the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, which houses both traveling exhibitions and an exceptional permanent collection of works on paper, and the ESSE Purse Museum on South Main street, the only American museum dedicated to the art of the handbag. You can also visit the historic Little Rock Visitor's Center at Curran Hall and learn more about the city. Don't miss La Petite Roche Plaza in Riverfront Park on the Arkansas River. Little Rock has plenty for outdoor lovers as well with great weather and numerous city parks offering running/walking trails, bike paths, fishing, private and public golf courses, sports facilities and picnic areas. The Little Rock Zoo is a treat for families. Don't miss taking a whirl on the historic Over the Jumps Carousel, the only one still in existence in the world. Just to the west of town is Pinnacle Mountain State Park, a day-use facility close to town that everyone likes for its birds-eye view of the city from its summit as well as a variety of nature trails around the base.

Crowley's Ridge near Jonesboro

Jonesboro

Time in totality - 2m 21s

Located among the rolling hills of Crowley’s Ridge, Jonesboro is the largest city located in the Arkansas Delta and the fifth-largest city in the state of Arkansas. Home to Arkansas State University, the town offers visitors and residents alike a variety of shops, restaurants, outdoor activities, attractions and events. Jonesboro has a small-town feel with all the best amenities of an urban area. The city is located along Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway, one of three nationally recognized historical routes in The Natural State. Don’t miss the Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center, which tells the story of the unique ridge that traverses the Arkansas segment of the Mississippi Delta with indoor and outdoor exhibits, films and trails. The nature center joins nearby Craighead Forest Park through three distinct walking/hiking trails.Lake Frierson State Park, just 10 miles north of downtown Jonesboro on the shores of 335-acre Lake Frierson, offers year-round fishing for bream, catfish, crappie and bass. Nearby are picnic sites, a pavilion, a playground, hiking trails, a launch ramp and a fishing pier. The park’s visitor center includes nature exhibits and a bait shop. Fishing boats, kayaks, and pedal boats are available for rent. Or head to Craighead Forest Park. The nearly 700-acre park offers beautiful scenery and has many recreational opportunities for everyone to enjoy. 

Jonesboro is also known for some of its homegrown restaurants like Skinny J’s (now with four locations throughout Arkansas), Brickhouse Bar and GrillLazzari's Italian OvenJTown’s GrillOmar’s Uptown, or Presley’s Drive-In, just to name a few! Also check out Native Brew Works, Jonesboro’s first microbrewery.

Fairfield Bay

Time in totality - 4m 15s

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains and situated on the north shores of the pristine Greers Ferry Lake, Fairfield Bay offers natural beauty and an active, outdoor lifestyle. The community showcases stunning mountain scenery and a variety of outdoor activities including fishing and boating on scenic Greers Ferry Lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, 90+ miles of UTV trails, 20+ miles of hiking/biking trails, the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain Island and exploring the boulders and history of the caves at the historic Indian Rock House Cave. Fairfield Bay is full of weekend retreat condos, luxury residences, and lodgings with many resort-style amenities available.

Heber Springs

Time in totality - 4m 2.4s

Founded as a health resort and first called Sugar Loaf in the mid-19th century, Heber Springs a popular access point to Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River. Greers Ferry Lake, one of the state’s most popular lakes, is known for great fishing and water recreation. Camping, cabins and world-class resorts overlook the 31,500-acre lake. Below the massive Corps of Engineers dam, the Little Red River is internationally known as the home of the former world-record brown trout (40-pound, four-ounce). Trout resorts and outfitters are numerous. The lake and river have served as national models for environmental cleanliness.

The historic downtown district includes a stately county courthouse with a traditional square, a museum, antique shops, restaurants, restored theater and Spring Park.

Heber Springs has plenty of places to eat, stay and play.

Hardy

Time in totality - 4m 12.1s

Overlooking the cool, flowing waters of the Spring River, Hardy is a preserved 1920s-era Ozark village with a National Historic District that extends the length of the old business district. Stores full of antiques, crafts, gifts and specialty outlets line the downtown. Hardy also boasts three museums, a few restaurants and bed and breakfast inns. The Spring River is fed by nearby Mammoth Spring and is ideal for trout fishing and year-round floating.

Motels and RV parks are available for lodging.

Russellville

Time in totality - 4m 11.3s

Russellville overlooks 34,000-acre Lake Dardanelle and the Arkansas River. Lake Dardanelle is renowned for its bass fishing and Lake Dardanelle State Park. The park contains a visitor center, fishing pier, hiking trails and camping. Additionally, the nearby Arkansas River Visitors Center offers interpretive exhibits about the river's navigation system.

Russellville is also a key city along Scenic Highway 7 and is home to Arkansas Tech University. It has numerous restaurants and lodging options.

 

Click here for unique events cities are hosting during the eclipse and other great eclipse information for Arkansas.