Arkansas’ Lower Delta: Blues Music and the Mississippi River

This laid-back, lowland region is known for its vast rice fields and deep musical heritage of gospel roots and blues. Once covered by vast wetlands, the Lower Delta was the first part of Arkansas settled by Europeans. Mound-building Native American cultures lived here for 12,000 years before that. Today, its rich, fertile farmland is home to sparkling oxbow lakes, intriguing historical sites, and winding roadways that follow the course of the Mississippi River.

Awesome fishing and duck hunting attract outdoor enthusiasts to the Lower Delta, which is brimming with wildlife and waterfowl. Explore the Arkansas Post, site of the first European settlement on the lower Mississippi. Watch a live show in Helena, the birthplace of the Delta blues and a hotbed of musical festivals. Take a break for fried catfish and smoky barbeque. Talk to locals and discover the unique arts and culture of the Lower Delta.

Winter Trail in Arkansas' Lower Delta

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas

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Fishing in Arkansas

Wildlife, Watersports, and Wetlands

Rivers and oxbow lakes define the natural character of this lowland region. Cast a line at Lake Chicot. Stretching 20 miles across the Delta, it’s a popular destination for watersports. Watch for waterfowl and fish for bass, bluegills, crappie, and catfish. Stuttgart is world-renowned for amazing duck hunting. Kayak the Mississippi River and find the nation’s largest block of hardwood bottomlands at the enigmatic White River National Wildlife Refuge.

Maps for a road trip in Arkansas

River Routes and Scenic Byways

Follow the meandering path of the Mississippi River on America’s Great River Road. This National Scenic Byway runs through eastern Arkansas on its way from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Arkansas’ Scenic 7 Byway begins here on the West Gulf Coastal Plain before traveling northwest across the state. Cruise along the longest bayou in the country on the Bayou Bartholomew route, and climb to the highest point in the Delta via Crowley’s Ridge Parkway.

Frames hanging from a wall in Museum in Arkansas

Blues Music, Nature, and History Museums

Pine Bluff is a hub of museums, including the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, the Arkansas Railroad Museum, and the Delta Rivers Nature Center. In Helena, you can explore settlement history, the Civil War, and the heritage of gospel and blues music at the Delta Cultural Center. See well-preserved antebellum Greek Revival architecture at the Lakeport Plantation. Visit the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie to learn about the Lower Delta’s pioneers and natural history.

Girl in a Museum in Arkansas

Where Arkansas Began

Step back in time to see the start of Arkansas. Established in 1686, the Arkansas Post in Gillett marks the location of the first permanent European settlement on the lower Mississippi River. Wander the wooden boardwalk above a rare headwater swamp at the Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park – it marks the initial point where the lands purchased began. In Helena, the Pillow-Thompson House is the best preserved example of Queen Anne architecture in the South.

Golf flag in Arkansas

Relax with a Game of Golf

Golf courses abound in the fertile Lower Delta. Voted one of the top ten public courses in Arkansas, Harbor Oaks Golf Club in Pine Bluff features Bermuda fairways and bent grass greens. It’s one of the featured courses on the National State Golf Trail. Tee off at the public golf course in Helena-West Helena or Hamburg. You’ll also find over a dozen country club courses in the region at Lake Village, Stuttgart, and Monticello.

Arkansas Map Pin

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