Arkansas is divided into regions by location. Many people would agree that Northwest Arkansas is the most beautiful area of the state.
This region includes the Ozark Mountains as well as some of the fastest growing cities in the state. It is in Northwest Arkansas that you can visit a premiere art gallery and a quaint mountain town in the same day.
You can also experience the beauty of the Buffalo National River and several state parks.
From cities to mountains Northwest Arkansas is one of the premiere regions of the state.
One thing that is nice to know is that Northwest Arkansas is a term used colloquially by residents of Arkansas and you will often see it shortened in writing to NWA.
Here is some more information about this lovely region.
Things to do in Northwest Arkansas
There is SO much to do in Northwest Arkansas. Nature lovers simply must visit the Buffalo National River and surrounding forest
There are also some lovely state parks in the region.
Buffalo National River: The Nation’s FIRST National River
The Buffalo National River is the most stunning areas in the state of Arkansas and, in my opinion, in the US. This is one of the few remaining un-dammed rivers in the lower 48 states, flowing freely for 135 miles.
It begins in Newton County and then passes into North Central Arkansas through Searcy, Marion, and Baxter Counties where it runs into the White River.
Back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s local conservationists, including the Ozark Society with environmentalist Neil Compton, began a hard fight to keep the river from being dammed. After more than a decade of wrangling the anti-dam brigade won.
In February 1972, Congress voted to establish the Buffalo River as the nation’s first national river!
Anyone who has ever visited the ares would agree that leaving the river free and un-dammed was the best possible outcome for this area.
At the Buffalo National River and the surrounding national forest you can kayak, hike, camp, view the stars, learn about the history and culture of the mountain people, see amazing wildlife including elk, and so much more.
The Buffalo National River is truly a magical place that is a must visit when you are in Northwest Arkansas.
State Parks in Northwest Arkansas
There are 52 state parks in Arkansas. Here are the ones located in this region of the state.
Devil’s Den State Park
Devil’s Den is, in my opinion, one of the best state parks in Arkansas. You can see the legacy of the CCC from the 1930’s in the structures here including in some of the original cabins.
Great hiking, rock formations, caverns, and beautiful overlooks are part of the appeal of this beautiful park.
Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area
Hobbs State Park is actually the largest state park in Arkansas. It has 12,054 acres partly situated on the shore of Beaver Lake.
Be sure and check out the visitor’s center to discover some of the 54 miles of trails in the park that are used for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Lake Dardanelle State Park
Lake Dardanelle is a large reservoir on the Arkansas River. The park is actually located on two areas of the lake. The larger section is in Russellville where you will find a visitor’s center with aquariums as well as a swimming beach and fishing pier.
The other section of the park is in the town of Dardanelle. Both areas have campsites.
Lake Fort Smith State Park
Lake Fort Smith is a lovely and scenic park in the Boston Mountain region of the Ozarks near the small town of Mountainburg. Camping and cabins are available year round. Activities include a swimming pool, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and more.
You will definitely want to stop by the visitor center to see the replica of a pioneer log cabin and covered wagon.
Mount Nebo State Park
Mount Nebo State Park is one of the unique, flat-topped Tri-Peaks of Arkansas. There is also Mount Magazine located in Northwest Arkansas while the third of the peaks, Petit Jean, is located in Central Arkansas.
Mount Nebo State Park is a wonderful place to hike and mountain bike, bird watch, or simply to enjoy a panoramic view of the Arkansas River Valley below. Many of the CCC built cabins here have stunning views.
Mount Magazine State Park
Mount Magazine, another of the Tri-Peaks, is a gorgeous state park with more amazing views. However, at 2,753 feet it also happens to be the site of the highest point in Arkansas.
You might come here for the views but there is also hiking, technical rock climbing, and even hang-gliding. Mount Magazine has a campsites, cabins, and a lodge with 60 guest rooms.
Prairie Grove Battlefield
Prairie Grove is known as one of the most well preserved of America’s Civil War Battlefields. It is the location of the Battle of Prairie Grove which was the last of the battles in northwest Arkansas.
There is a free museum at the site where you can see artifacts from the battle.
Withrow Springs State Park
Withrow Springs State Park is a lovely campground on a stream. Here you will find pretty campsites on gentle waters for wading, floating or fishing. This is a perfect place to relax.
Lakes in Northwest Arkansas
In addition to Lake Fort Smith State Park and Lake Dardanelle which are mentioned above there are other wonderful recreational lakes in this region of the state. Here are a few of our favorites.
Do note that in several of these lakes swimming is not allowed.
Beaver Lake is located near the town of Rogers in Northwest Arkansas. This is a large lake that is renowned for bass fishing. There are even fishing tournaments held here on occasion.
Beaver Lake is also great for kayaking, picnicking, boating, swimming, skiing and other water activities. Here are some cabins to stay in that are on or near Beaver Lake.
Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake is a huge, 53,000 acre lake, that is located in the Ozarks Mountains of both Missouri and Arkansas. In Arkansas it winds through the mountain valleys near the town of Eureka Springs.
There are many campgrounds and communities around this lake. In Arkansas one of the best known is the planned development of Holiday Island.
Although you currently can’t swim in it, Lake Fayetteville is a great place for recreation. In addition to fishing you will find a disc golf course by the lake. There is also a nice walking trail loop around the lake.
Lake Leatherwood is a beauty of a place near Eureka Springs. This is a 85 acre spring-fed lake that was built in the 1940’s and is even on the National Register of Historic Places. Here you will find hiking and biking trails, kayaking, great fishing and even a bait shop.
This 500 acre lake located near the town of Gentry, Arkansas is interesting because it is warm year round. It is a cooling lake for the nearby Flint Creek Power Plant.
Because of the supply of warm water this is an excellent lake for both fishing and bird watching. Eagles tend to spend the winter on this lake due to the warmth.
Here is a list of some larger recreational lakes in the rest of the state!
Rivers in Northwest Arkansas
In addition to the Buffalo River you will find several other rivers in this part of the state.
- The Arkansas River enters Arkansas from Oklahoma at the city of Fort Smith.
- The Mulberry River is 55 miles long and known for it’s beautiful blue color and wildness when the waters are flowing in the spring. During the rainy times it has a class II/III rapids rating.
- King’s River begins in Madison County and eventually flows into Table Rock Lake in Missouri.
- The 720 mile long White River begins in this region then arches up into Missouri and then back down into Arkansas all the way to the Arkansas Delta and into the Mississippi River.
Things to do in the Cities
But it’s not all nature in this region of Arkansas! Here are some wonderful activities in the cities and towns of Northwest Arkansas.
- Enjoy art at the world class Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville
- Shop and eat in the charming and quirky town of Eureka Springs.
- Visit the animals at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Rescue.
- Call the hogs at a Razorback sporting event.
- Experience two of the three glass chapels in Arkansas.
- Stroll and Shop on the beautiful town square in Bentonville
- Party on Dickson Street in Fayetteville
- Visit the War Eagle Mill.
- See where Sam Walton got his start at The Walmart Museum in Bentonville.
- Enjoy modern art at the Momentary in Bentonville.
- Take a ride on the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad.
- Do a wine tasting in the town of Altus.
- Stay at the most haunted hotel in the US in Eureka Springs
- Learn about the culture of the Ozarks at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale
- Enjoy some of the amazing restaurants in the Northwest Arkansas cities
- Attend the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs
More Outdoor Activities in Northwest Arkansas
- Kayak or canoe on the Buffalo River or one of the other rivers in the area.
- Visit Lost Valley and go inside a wild cave with a waterfall
- See the elk in Boxley Valley and visit the Ponca elk education center
- Paddle at the Siloam Springs Kayak Park
- Hike to one of the most famous places in Arkansas, Hawk’s Bill Crag
Some of the Cities in Northwest Arkansas
- Bella Vista
- Eureka Springs
- Fort Smith
- Siloam Springs
- Van Buren
Counties in Northwest Arkansas
I hope that you enjoyed learning more about northwest Arkansas!
Thanks for stopping by.