of Arkansas
Lake Ouachita Vista Trail
Lake Ouachita Vista Trail

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The Natural State is home to two distinct mountain ranges: the Ouachitas and the Ozarks. Both lie predominately in the western half of the state, but they are quite different. 

The Ozark Mountains are actually a series of plateaus that occupy much of Northwest Arkansas and run south to north, reaching up into Missouri. Their composition is a bit more varied, with an igneous rock base covered up in many places by sedimentary and metamorphic rock. This, combined with the groundwater in the Ozarks has created a “karst” topography – characterized by caves, springs, sinkholes and other geologic features. They’re considered to be a bit more rugged and remote than the Ouachitas, and you’ll find many streams and rivers here. 

The Ouachita Mountain range, in contrast, is known more for its diamond lakes – Ouachita, Hamilton Catherine, Greeson and DeGray. The Ouachitas are made up largely of sandstone and shale and are covered with a mix of pine and hardwood forests. This range is unique in that it runs east to west, as opposed to the north-south paths of most mountains.

Both ranges offer superb hiking, biking, camping, wildlife watching, fishing, boating and much more. Make plans to explore these wonderful mountains in Arkansas!