Forests, State and National Parks
in the North Central Arkansas Ozarks
The North Central Ozarks of Arkansas are heavily forested and provide a wealth of outdoor activities in The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. If you values wilderness, save some time for these grand woodlands.
In the Forests: More than 200 camping and picnic sites, nine swimming beaches, five wilderness areas, eleven special interest areas, thousands of acres of lakes and streams, and more than 400 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding mountain biking, and more. Some areas offer cabins for rent. Blanchard Springs Caverns are located in the Forest northwest of Mountain View.
Visit The Forest Service site for the latest information and news, maps, and more.
State Parks of the region: Bull Shoals-White River State Park, Mammoth Spring State Park, and Ozark Folk Center State Park. All within an easy drive of Harrison, AR, these three parks provide very different and special vacation experiences.
Buffalo National River
The gem of the region is Buffalo National River. Established as a National River in 1972, this 135-mile free flowing waterway is one of only a few undammed rivers remaining in the lower 48 states. Set between massive limestone bluffs, the river offers kayakers and canoe paddlers the chance to run rapids and relax in quiet pools. Along the river are camping places, numerous trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, and good fishing spots. Historic sites date from prehistoric peoples to pioneers. You'll see waterfalls, caves, and plenty of wildlife, including elk, deer and wild turkey. More info here.
Bull Shoals-White River State Park
Located along the riverside and lake shore where the White River and Bull Shoals Lake join at the Bull Shoals Dam. The river boasts exceptional brown and rainbow trout fishing, while the Lake is home to lunker bass, catfish, bream and crappie. Boating, swimming, camping, playgrounds, hiking and riding trails and a marina with rental boats, motors, canoes and kayaks mean there's never a dull moment at this park. Call 870-445-3629 to contact the park.
Mammoth Springs State Park
Home to Arkansas's largest spring and the second largest spring in the Ozarks, with nine million gallons of water flowing every hour and forming a scenic 10-acre lake. The lake becomes the Spring River, popular for trout fishing and floating. The park's 1886 Frisco Depot and the Frisco caboose parked outside will whisk you back to an earlier time in transportation. A mill and a hydroelectric plant were once active here, and their remnants can be visited. A kids' playground, a trail, ball field and picnic sites make it the perfect park for a day trip. Contact the park at 870-625-7364.
Ozark Folk Center State Park
Here the crafts, music and herb lore of the Ozarks is kept alive. The Craft Village demonstrates old-time crafts like blacksmithing and pottery-making. The auditorium rings with the sounds of traditional Southern music played on traditional instruments. Nationally known artists perform here, as well as local talent. Cabins, a restaurant and a general store right on the park grounds means you can immerse yourself in the experience. Visit the gift shop, or sign up for music or dance classes; learn how to grow an organic herb garden. There's also a zipline for those needing some vacation adrenaline. Nearby is the historic town of Mountain View, where there is often live music on the square.