LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As the weather starts to cool, it’s time to start thinking about getting out for a drive to enjoy the fall colors and the natural beauty of the Natural State.
The Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism reports that historically the colors begin to change in the north in early October, with the color change moving into south Arkansas by early November, and this year appears to be following that tradition.
It’s time to start thinking about where and when would be the best drive to take in the Natural State beauty.
Here’s some ideas:
The Arkansas Grand Canyon south of Jasper should be high on your list. The big – dare we say grand – valley runs south of Jasper along the scenic Arkansas Highway 7. Stop at the Rotary Ann Roadside Park for a broad 180-degree view.
Arkansas Highway 7, also known as Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway, is a treasure unto itself. Running north to south through the western middle of the state through Hot Springs, it’s been called one of the most beautiful drives in the country. Pick it up anywhere and enjoy the view.
The Boxley Valley west of Jasper is worth a tour. It is north of the town of Boxley and just south of Ponca on Arkansas Highway 43. After taking in the view, head south on 43 toward Boxley. You will want to stop and see the Old Boxley Grist Mill, now part of the National Park Service. It had been a popular meeting spot for families until the millrace was washed out in a flood in the mid-50s.
South of Boxley is one of the best places to see the Arkansas elk herds. The best part about this is that it being the fall, the elk will be in mating season through mid-November. Time it right, and you will hear the elk’s call. The best time to see them is around sunup and sundown from one of the pull-off areas along Arkansas highways 43 and 21.
Farther north and you can visit the ghost town of Rush in the Rush Historic District in northern Arkansas. This was once a thriving community when all the lead and zinc mining took place in the North Arkansas Lead and Zinc District. Zinc mining in the area has ended, people moved away and Rush was declared a ghost town in 1972. Many of the old dwellings are still intact, and the site is under the care of the National Park Service.
Prefer something less rustic but still historical? A day trip on the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad will fit. The west-northwest Arkansas working railroad offers excursion trips featuring a luxury coach, parlor, dining cars, and even a caboose. All these offer great views of fall colors in Arkansas from a unique platform.