There are 6 named regions of Arkansas that are used to designate areas of the state for the purposes of tourism and easy identification.
The destination areas of Arkansas are named for their location in the state.
- Central Arkansas
- Northwest Arkansas
- North Central Arkansas
- Northeast Arkansas (sometimes called the Upper Delta)
- Southeast Arkansas (sometimes called the Lower Delta)
- Southwest Arkansas.
We have another post about how the state of Arkansas is divided from a scientific point of view. If you want to learn more about the geology and geography of Arkansas you can check that out!
But, in this post, we are just going to talk about the 6 different destination areas of Arkansas!
Regions of Arkansas
These names help tourists identify the regions of Arkansas and plan their vacations. However, you will also hear locals use many of these terms colloquially.
For example, an Arkansan might say, “I live in a small town in Central Arkansas.” Or, “I’m going to Northwest Arkansas this weekend to do some hiking.” It is just an easy way to identify an area of the state.
Central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas are the busiest and most populated areas of the state. In fact, there are only two major national airports in Arkansas. The first is located in Little Rock in Central Arkansas and the other is in Bentonville in Northeast Arkansas.
Obviously, this means that Central and Northwest Arkansas are the most easily accessible to those arriving by plane. However, don’t let that keep you from visiting some of the other regions of Arkansas.
There is so much to see and experience all over the state.
The natural diversity here is amazing. Arkansas is nicknamed the Natural State for good reason! You can drive from the rocky forests of Ozark Mountains to the lush Mississippi Delta farmland in just a few hours.
For a medium sized state Arkansas has so much: pristine lakes, stunning rivers, dense forests, gorgeous mountains, cosmopolitan cities, rich farmland, and lush swamps.
Here are some things to know about what to see and do in each of the regions of Arkansas.
Central Arkansas is geographically and politically the center of the state.
In fact, the capitol of the state, Little Rock, is basically right in the middle. It is located on the banks of the Arkansas River and is currently the largest city.
Just across the Arkansas river is the city of North Little Rock. Here you can enjoy a game at Dickey-Stephens ball park, bike the Arkansas River Trail, spend some time in the lovely Argenta neighborhood, and visit the Old Mill.
Conway, calls itself the city of universities and is one of the fastest growing towns in Central Arkansas. It has 4 colleges and a plethora of activites.
But there is more than city life in Central Arkansas. You can also experience the friendliness of a small southern town or easily get out to enjoy nature. Some of the best places are Pinnacle Mountain State Park or the amazing Petit Jean State Park.
There is even a little hidden gem right in Little Rock along the Little Maumelle River called the William Kirsch Preserve.
Central Arkansas has a little bit of everything!
Then we have Northwest Arkansas which is the fastest growing and arguably the most beautiful area in the state. By the way, you will often see it shortened in writing as NWA.
Nature reigns in the Northwest region of Arkansas. The Ozark Mountains are located here as is the amazing Buffalo River National Park.
You will find beautiful hiking trails through the mountains that lead to rocky crags, stunning waterfalls and secluded valleys. Northwest Arkansas is also known for mountain biking, fishing, floating, camping, and pristine lakes.
It is honestly a nature lover’s dream!
One of the most interesting of the small mountain towns is the touristy and quirky Eureka Springs. If you are interested in the supernatural it claims to have the most haunted hotel in the United States.
This town is a must see in NWA.
But it isn’t all about nature in this beautiful corner of the state.
It also has a burgeoning corridor of larger cities beginning with the college town of Fayetteville, passing through Springdale and Rogers and ending at the increasingly expensive and expansive city of Bentonville.
This entire corridor has a growing coffee scene, interesting boutique shopping, delicious restaurants, stunning hotels, great music venues, craft breweries, and so much more.
There is so much to do and experience in this amazing corner of Arkansas!
North Central Arkansas
In my opinion, this is an underrated area of the state. However, it also happens to be where my own family is from so maybe I am a little biased.
North Central Arkansas is not easily accessed by a major airport or by major highways. Most of the towns here are small, but in my opinion this just adds to its charm!
A few of the towns in this area are:
- Batesville is a small and quaint college town situated on the White River
- Hardy sits on the Spring River and has a beautifully preserved downtown area
- The quaint town of Mountain view calls itself the Folk Music Capitol of the World. You can enjoy music on the square on warm weekends.
- Heber Springs is a small town that acts as a gateway to the amazing Greer’s Ferry Lake
Nature abounds in North Central Arkansas as well.
Although the Buffalo River starts in the northwest corner of the state it also runs through North Central Arkansas. During the summer months when the upper Buffalo becomes too low to kayak you can often still go to the lower Buffalo in this area to float the river.
Or….you might choose to enjoy one of the other rivers in this region. You can kayak or canoe on the icy cold and refreshing Spring River year round because it is fed by Mammoth Spring, the largest spring in Arkansas.
The White River, one of the most incredible trout fishing rivers in the US, is also in North Central Arkansas.
But wait, there’s more…
You might also want to visit Blanchard Springs Caverns which is located near the in the town of Fifty-Six. Yes, there are some interesting town names in Arkansas.
You will not be disappointed if you decide to explore this region of Arkansas.
Northeast Arkansas (The Upper Delta)
Northeast Arkansas is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and Missouri on the north.
Although this is mostly flat Mississippi Delta Land, it has a beauty all its own and spectacular sunsets. Recreation opportunities abound and include fishing, floating, golfing, and hiking.
Northeast Arkansas is also home to Crowley’s Ridge which is a unique and interesting geological formation. This is a narrow ridge which runs about 150 miles from Missouri to the South Delta town of Helena, Arkansas. It rises about 250 to 550 feet from the flat plain below but is only 12 miles wide at its widest point.
Because it was higher ground that didn’t flood, many of the towns of the Northeast region of Arkansas were situated on Crowley’s Ridge. You can visit Crowley’s Ridge State Park to enjoy the natural beauty here.
Johnny Cash was born and raised in Dyess, Arkansas and you can visit his boyhood home which has been turned into a museum. Ernest Hemingway also spent time in the northeast region of Arkansas and you can visit the Hemingway Pfeiffer Museum and educational center to learn more about his time here.
Some of the other cities in Northeast Arkansas are:
- Jonesboro is the largest city in Northeast Arkansas and home to Arkansas State University.
- Wilson is an historic and fascinating town which was founded in the late 1800’s and now has a great restaurant, interesting events, and wine tastings.
- West Memphis has greyhound racing and anchors one end of the Big River Crossing which is a pedestrian bridge to Memphis.
- Pocahontas has an historic downtown and is located in Randolph County which has five rivers and one lake.
Southeast Arkansas (The Lower Delta)
Southeast Arkansas is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and the state of Louisiana on the south. The history of this area was uniquely touched by the rich land and the mighty river.
The Lower Delta is known for its rich culture, amazing blues music, incredible duck hunting, beautiful oxbow lakes, delicious Delta style tamales, and natural beauty.
The town of Lake Village is located on Lake Chicot. Lake Chicot is the largest oxbow lake in North America and a favorite for anglers. You will want to visit Lake Chicot State Park to see this beautiful.
Lake Village is also home to Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales and Pies, which, in our opinion, is one of the best places in Arkansas to try the famed Delta tamales.
Blues music was a huge part of the culture of this area. You can learn more about this at the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Arkansas. Or you might want to attend the King Biscuit Blues Festival which is a huge annual music festival.
The southeast region of Arkansas is also part of one of the largest “flyways” in the country. A flyway is a flight path used by migrating birds. Are you aware that several flyways converge over this part of Arkansas making it perfect for both bird watching and duck hunting?
The city of Stuttgart is considered to be the duck hunting capitol of the world.
Culture and beauty combine to make Southeast Arkansas an amazing place to visit.
Hot Springs is a fascinating place where people have come for years to partake of spa treatments and to bathe in and drink the mineral waters that many clhave healing properties.
The same ancient geological processes that created the hot springs for which the town and the national park are named also created diamonds and quartz crystals in this area.
Yes, real diamonds.
In fact, Crater of Diamonds State Park near the town of Murfreesboro is the only place in the world where you can go and dig for diamonds and keep whatever you find!
Prefer to look for quartz? There are several places near the town of Mount Ida where you can dig for quartz crystals and keep what you find. By the way, you are much more likely to find quartz than diamonds.
There are also five gorgeous lakes in this region of Arkansas which have been nicknamed the Diamond Lakes. These are:
- Lake Ouachita
- Lake Hamilton
- Lake Catherine
- Lake Greeson
- DeGray Lake
Some of the other towns in southwest Arkansas are:
- Hope is the birthplace of Bill Clinton.
- El Dorado is a former oil boom town which now boasts a state-of-the art music, entertainment and restaurant complex.
- Mount Ida is often called the quartz crystal capital of the world.
- Texarkana is on the border of Arkansas and Texas.
Southwest Arkansas is one of the most diverse and interesting regions in Arkansas.
I hope that you enjoyed learning more about the Arkansas regions. Each one has its own charm with compelling things to see and do.
Thanks for stopping by.