Posted on 21 Oct 2009
From all indications, autumn in Arkansas this year should be a good one. All the ingredients thus far are there -- crisp, cool nights and warm, sunny days which are allowing leaves to do their thing. Yes, to do their thing. If you want a more scientific explanation of leaves changing color..you'll have to go elsewhere. Sorry, I'm not a botanist or scientist -- I only explore Arkansas. One of the best ways to experience Arkansas's autumn splendor is by taking one of the many designated scenic drives throughout the state.
We'll begin with the area that will first see peak color by late October -- the Ozarks. A popular drive is Scenic Highway 7 which traverses the north-south length of the state from Harrison to Louisiana. There are also a couple of other "must sees" in this area. White Rock Mountain north of Mulberry on Highway 215, which will first take you by Shores Lake and then eventually up to the mountain on a gravel road. (Both areas are listed in red on the Arkansas state map). The other is "Hawksbill Crag" -- that much photographed rock outcropping you see in travel brochures located in the upper portion of the Buffalo National River region near Ponca. (Trail maps are available at the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca).
The next area to see peak color by late October or early November is western and central Arkansas. An excellent drive is the "grandaddy of scenic drives" -- Talimena National Scenic Byway, which is Highway 88 traversing the top of Rich Mountain at Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena. This route offers mountain vistas unsurpassed in mid-America of forested peaks, valleys, lakes and streams. The other drive in this area is Mount Magazine Scenic Byway --Highway 309, which happens to be on Arkansas's tallest peak at 2,753 feet.
The third and last area to finally see peak color by early to mid November is southern and eastern Arkansas. Here you have the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, which actually extends through ten states along the Mississippi River. There's also Crowley's Ridge National Scenic Byway which rises as much as 200 feet above the surrounding Delta's expanse. Four state parks lie along this byway which also passes through the St. Francis National Forest north of Helena.
For more details on the above Scenic Byways you can go to our Exploring Arkansas related links page.
So, get out - enjoy and explore autumn in the Natural State ! Take plenty of pictures and please leave no trace ! Keep Arkansas beautiful !!