What is Arkansas known for?
As a born and raised Arkansan I am always surprised about the things that people know…and don’t know about my wonderful state.
I’m even more surprised by the things that they “believe” to be true that actually aren’t.
Here is our list of a few of the things that Arkansas is known for. This list includes both the good and the bad, the famous and the infamous, the well-known and the obscure.
Many of these “things that Arkansas is known for” are also the things that make Arkansas…well, Arkansas!
What is Arkansas Known For?
The nickname of Arkansas is “the natural state” and that is for good reason. Arkansas is a very rural state that is predominantly covered in forests and farmlands.
From the deep rich soil of the Mississippi river bottom to the rocky Ozark Mountains the geography of the state is diverse, lush, fertile, and beautiful.
Arkansas is blessed with an abundance of natural resources such as pristine lakes, flowing rivers, timber, fertile farm land, wild animals, diamonds, and crystals.
Ex-President Bill Clinton is assuredly one of the most world famous people from the state of Arkansas.
He was born in the town of Hope and raised in Hot Springs. Clinton was governor of Arkansas before becoming president of the United States.
The William J Clinton presidential library is located in downtown Little Rock.
Did you know that there are diamonds in Arkansas?
And here is a fun fact: Not only are there diamonds in Arkansas but it is the only state with a producing diamond mine in the entire United States.
At Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas you can even dig for your own diamonds and keep anything that you find.
Cheese dip, y’all. Which, by the way, is not the same as queso. Sorry, Texans.
Cheese dip was invented in Central Arkansas in 1935 and since then has become a staple of restaurants all over the state.
The Annual World Cheese Dip Championship is held every fall in Little Rock. This is a tasty event that you will not want to miss.
Central High School and the Little Rock Nine
One of the most difficult parts of Arkansas history is the story of Central High School and the Little Rock Nine.
Little Rock Central High School gained national attention in 1957 when it became a focal point in the struggle for racial integration and a significant event in the Civil Rights Movement. T
he Little Rock Nine, a group of African American students, were the first to integrate the school. The National Guard had to be called to escort them past screaming mobs into the school.
Central High School is still a working high school today, You can learn more about those turbulent times by taking a tour with the National Parks Service.
The city of Mountain View, Arkansas is known as the “Folk Music Capitol of the World.” This is a charming town where the rich Ozark Mountain heritage of traditional folk and bluegrass music is kept alive.
On any warm weekend evening you will hear musicians, picking, fiddling, or strumming. Live music will waft from front lawn of the town hall, from the town square, or from gazebos in the town park.
Mountain View also hosts various music festivals, such as the Ozark Folk Festival.
The nearby Ozark Folk Center State Park is also dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Ozark crafts, music, and culture.
Mountain biking is another of the things that Arkansas is known for. The state has firmly established itself as a top-notch mountain biking destination with a strong commitment to trail development.
You will find a vast network of trails with diverse terrain for riders of all skill levels. From the rocky trails of the Ozark Mountains to the flowy tracks in the Ouachita National Forest, riders can enjoy a variety of landscapes and experiences.
Arkansas also hosts several mountain biking events and races which attract riders from all over the country.
There are no professional sports teams in the state of Arkansas. I think that this fact causes us to be especially crazy about college sports.
Many sports loving Arkansans follow the Razorbacks which is the team of the University of Arkansas. Games days in the college town of Fayetteville are pretty special but there are Razorback fans calling the hogs all over the state!
Through good times and bad we continue to love our Razorbacks in all of their sports. My favorite happens to be basketball.
Yes, there are also real razorback hogs in the state and they are absolutely wild and fairly dangerous.
We joke here about being able to experience all 4 seasons in the space of one day in this state.
It is true that the weather in Arkansas is very changeable and fairly extreme. We have ice storms, hail storms, incredible heat, and yes, we are located in tornado alley.
I remember once when I was in college laying out in the sun with friends on a warm spring day and then playing in the snow the next day with a sunburn.
Go to this post if you want to know what we think are the best times to visit Arkansas.
Arkansas grows more rice than any other state in the US. In fact, this small state produces half of the total US rice production.
The rice fields are located mostly in the low lying areas in the south central and eastern half of the state. These rice fields also contribute to something else that Arkansas is known for…
Duck Hunting and the Mississippi Flyway Migration Route
Besides rice, what is Arkansas known for? Ducks!
Stuttgart, Arkansas just happens to be the duck hunting capital of the world and home to the world championship duck calling contest.
Why is Arkansas such a mecca for duck hunters?
Because of the Mississippi Flyway Migration Route. Migrating birds, including ducks, come from across Canada through the United States. Many of these routes converge right over the state of Arkansas.
In fact, Arkansas has almost perfect positioning in the Mississippi Flyway.
Not only that but the swampy land and rice fields of the southeast portion of the state are a perfect spot for these waterfowl to rest and eat.
Hot Springs National Park
One of the few National Parks in the south is located in the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Hot Springs is also the most touristed town in the state.
Hot Springs National Park is one of the smallest of the national parks and, in our opinion, one of the quirkiest. This park is not about grand vistas and hiking. Instead it is located right in the middle of the city and is about the unique geology and interesting history of the area.
From native Americans to prohibition gangsters everyone has come to partake in the healing Hot Springs waters.
These days you can still visit the grand old bathhouses, drink or even bathe in the pure hot spring water, and have a beer at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery which happens to be the only brewery in the US that is inside a national park.
Towns With Funny Names
I think all states have some towns with funny names. But Arkansas might have more than its share. Some people even think that the name of our state capital, Little Rock, is odd.
However, I don’t think that compares to some of the other funny town names in Arkansas such as Weiner, Oil Trough, Fifty-Six, or Booger Hollow.
The town of Romance has even capitalized on their unusual name. The town’s small post office will hand stamp your love letter.
Walmart is one of the most recognizable businesses in the world and it is definitely one of the things that Arkansas is known for. The founder, Sam Walton, is also one of the most famous people from the state.
He started his retail store of Walmart in the small town of Bentonville, Arkansas and grew it into a huge international company.
More Interesting things to know about Arkansas
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Speaking of Walmart, Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, was the benefactress for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
At the moment of its completion Crystal Bridges immediately became one of the most important museums of American art in the US. The art elite were originally not happy with the Bentonville location but Ms Walton has proven them wrong.
Crystal Bridges is free to the public and has had millions of visitors.
One of the most beautiful natural areas of Arkansas are the Ozark Mountains. These craggy hills are not only lovely, but also have their own culture and are a major tourist destination.
If you only visit one area of Arkansas it should be the Ozark Mountains.
Buffalo National River
Did you know that Arkansas was the first state to have a designated National River?
It was a hard fought battle but local environmentalists saved the Buffalo River from being dammed. It was named the first National River in 1972 and is one of the few remaining un-dammed rivers in the lower 48 states.
The Buffalo flows freely for 135 miles through the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas and North Central Arkansas.
It is a simply stunning river that is floatable during certain times of the year. A springtime rite of passage for many Arkansans is to go and “float the Buffalo.”
Besides diamonds what is Arkansas known for? It is known worldwide by both scientists and collectors for its quartz crystals.
Yes, in addition to digging for diamonds in Arkansas you can also dig for quartz crystals and in fact, you are way more likely to stumble across crystals than diamonds.
There are several working quartz mines in the state some of which allow collectors to dig in the tailings and keep what they find.
Many of the places to dig are found in the Ouachita Mountains around the town of Mount Ida which is considered to be the quartz crystal capital of the world.
One you might want to check out is the Ron Coleman Mine.
There are many famous musicians from the state of Arkansas. However, Johnny Cash is certainly one of the most famous world wide.
The Cash family moved to the town of Dyess which is in the Mississippi River Alluvial Plain when little Johnny was only three years old. He grew up in this area until his high school graduation.
Today the boyhood home of Johnny Cash is a museum just outside the town of Dyess that you can visit. I highly recommend taking this tour.
Jones was a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright. These chapels perfectly showcase the natural beauty of Arkansas. They are all surrounded by forest and seem to have grown from the land that surrounds them.
Fried Catfish and Chocolate Gravy
In addition to cheese dip there are many other foods that Arkansas is known for. You can read all about them in this post.
Chocolate gravy was invented in the hills of the Ozark Mountains. It was a treat that was typically served with biscuits. We also have a dessert called possum pie, which does not contain possum, instead it is layers of cream cheese and chocolate.
Then there are the Arkansas Delta tamales. Oh, and It is my opinion that my home state also grows the sweetest and best watermelon in the USA.
And yes, Arkansans definitely like fried catfish, and buffalo fish…and crappie….honestly we tend to fry pretty much everything; catfish, pickles, okra, squash, green tomatoes, pork chops…ok now my mouth is watering and I’m hungry.
I’m off to heat up some oil to fry something.
Is Arkansas still known for the hillbilly stereotypes?
Even to this day when I leave my state and mention where I am from I hear jokes about Arkansans marrying cousins and not wearing shoes so…the answer is yes.
It is true that the culture of the Ozark Mountain people was more similar to that of Appalachia than to the rest of the south. The people were fiercely independent and lived a hardscrabble life eking out a living from the rocky soil of the Ozarks.
They lived in isolation in the hills and hollers of that rugged area. Most, but not all, of that has changed these days, but it seems that the reputation still exists.
The World’s Most Haunted Hotel
Did you know that Arkansas is known for having the most haunted hotel in the United States?
The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs is not only a beautiful, historic, and wonderful resort hotel but is also a hotbed of supernatural activity. When you read about its fascinating and troubling history you can see why.
Big Dam Bridge
The Big Dam Bridge in Little Rock just happens to be the longest pedestrian and biking bridge in North America that was built expressly for that purpose. This is a 4, 226 foot span which was built above the Murray Lock and Dam and crosses the Arkansas River.
The Big Dam Bridge also connects a series of walking and biking trails throughout Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Mount Magazine is the highest point in the state of Arkansas. This flat topped mountain rises up from the Arkansas River Valley below to a height of 2, 753 feet.
It is also the home of the beautiful Mount Magazine State Park, a small population of black bears, and some of the most beautiful views in the state.
Hattie Caraway was the first woman in the United States to be elected to the the supreme court.
She was appointed to the Senate in 1931 to fill a vacancy caused by the death of her husband. However, in 1932 she was elected in a landslide victory. Reelected in 1938, Hattie Caraway served until 1945.
She broke many gender barriers while serving in the Senate including becoming the first woman to chair a Senate committee in 1933 and the first woman to preside officially over the Senate in 1943.
The town of Mammoth Spring is located in the north central part of the state.
It is home to Mammoth Spring State Park and Mammoth Spring which happens to be one of the largest springs in the entire world.
Over 9 million gallons of water flow from the spring every hour!
The spring then forms a 10 acre lake and leaves the lake south as the Spring River. Because it is spring fed this river is always flowing and icy cold. It is a great trout stream and a favorite for Arkansans to float via canoe and kayak.
It is also a perfect place to beat the Arkansas summer heat!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read about what Arkansas is known for. We believe that our home state is a special place with so much to offer.
Thank so much for stopping by!