Southwest Arkansas: Ouachita Mountains and the Timberlands

Covered in dense pine and cypress forests, this appealing corner of Arkansas flaunts its nickname as the Natural State. Refreshing rivers and lakes of stunning clarity are perfect for bass fishing, swimming, and outdoor fun. Roads and trails wind through the Ouachita Mountains and the Timberlands below, delighting hikers, bikers, and photographers. “Ouachita” comes from the Caddo word for “good hunting grounds,” and deer hunters find that the term still holds true today.

Known for growing the world’s largest watermelons, this rich landscape is dotted with small towns and only-in-Arkansas attractions. Visit Bill Clinton’s childhood home and the only diamond-producing public park on the planet – you can keep what you find! Hot Springs is a true treasure, featuring the late 1800s Bathhouse Row in its National Historic Landmark District. Civil War battlefields, antique shops, and offbeat festivals add to the inviting cultural tapestry of southwest Arkansas.

Scenic drive through Ouachita Mountains

Scenic Drive through Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas


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Maps for a road trip in Arkansas

Road Trips and Tours in the Timberlands

Pass by glistening lakes, bubbling hot springs, and well-maintained state parks on scenic roads. Stop at quirky attractions, from diamond-digging sites to living history museums. Roll through Ouachita National Forest, stopping for easy hikes, photo opps, and shady picnics. Pop into roadside stops like funky antique shops, folk art boutiques, and soul food restaurants. Pause for a rest in towns like Hope, Hot Springs, and Texarkana.

Girl in a museum in Arkansas

Broaden Your Horizons at Captivating Museums

Connect with the rich heritage of America in southwest Arkansas. Discover stories of iconic frontiersmen like Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston at the Historic Washington State Park. Visit the childhood home of U.S. President Bill Clinton in Hope. Explore Native American culture at Texarkana’s Museum of Regional History, and see an authentic pioneer log cabin at the Will Reed Home. Enjoy hands-on exhibits at Hot Springs’ Mid America Science Museum.

Fishing in Arkansas

Mountains, Lakes, and Diamonds

With abundant wildlife and raw natural beauty, this handsome corner of the state is packed with outdoor adventures. Swim, ski, and sail in the crystal-clear waters of the five Diamond Lakes. Reel in a largemouth bass – fishing is legendary here. Hunters will find woods teeming with deer. Follow tranquil trails through the Ouachita Mountains. Search for a buried treasure at Crater of Diamonds State Park, where gemstones are unearthed on a regular basis.

Line of Motorcycles in Arkansas

Motorcycle Rides: Twisting Roads and Rolling Hills

Cruise through lush pine and cypress forests in Arkansas’ Timberlands region. Picturesque byways run alongside small farms and gentle rivers on easy rolling terrain. Explore roads through the Ouachita Mountains, stop for a soak at Hot Springs, and ride popular motorcycle routes like “The Notch.” Along the way, take a break at famous catfish restaurants, oddball museums, and old-fashioned general stores.

Arkansas Map Pin

Discover Best Western Hotels in Arkansas

With 22 Best Western locations in Arkansas ~ you're bound to find something new where you're headed.