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Five Rides to Put You in the Natural State of Mind
Known as the Natural State thanks to the beauty of the Ozarks and Ouachita Mountains – plus a multitude of stunning state parks – Arkansas is one place worth touring. Sure, you could gas up the car, or book a flight to Little Rock, but perhaps the best way to get acquainted with this majestic southern secret is by motorcycle.
Fill your ears with the rip roar of your own two wheels skirting along the twists and turns of the Great River Road, the Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway, and Crowley's Ridge Parkway. Run into Arkansas celebrations like the Bugs, Bands & Bikes Festival in El Dorado, or the Arkansas H.O.G. Rally in Hot Springs.
Enjoy the arts of Eureka Springs, or visit the stomping grounds of Ernest Hemingway in Piggott. Take advantage of a soak at the Hot Springs National Park, or try tackling the 225-mile Ouachita Trail in Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Each Arkansas adventure is as unforgettable as the next.
200 Miles North from Hot Springs to Eureka Springs
Spend a relaxing day at the Hot Springs National Park before your adventure down the Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway. Known as the American Spa, this park sits north of the city of Hot Springs. Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, this is the smallest National Park, yet the oldest Federal Reserve.
Your first stop is the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center in Bathhouse Row – a National Historic Landmark District constructed in 1832. Take a tour of Fordyce – built in the early 1900s – and watch the orientation video, or pick out a souvenir from the Eastern National shop.
The best souvenir? Bring an empty jug or bottle and take home a sample of these famed waters. Don’t forget to take a dip yourself. Enjoy a bath at the Buckstaff Bathhouse, or try a co-ed soak at Quapaw Baths and Spa. Feeling loose? Good. Now get ready ride the curves of the Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway – leading you from the Hot Springs National Park to the quaint community of Eureka Springs in northwest Arkansas. Nearing 200 miles, the Scenic 7 winds your tour through the Ouachita National Forest and Ozark National Forest.
Once your in the Ozarks, try the famed Pig Trail Scenic Byway. The park of Arkansas Highway 23 coursing through Ozark National Forest is known as the Pig Trail thanks to exciting sharp turns and unmatched views of the Boston Mountains. Running for 19 miles, the Arkansas Pig Trail is said to be one of the best motorcycle routes in the country.
Still in the Ozarks, you’ll catch unforgettable Arkansas points of pride like Nimrod Lake, Mount Nebo State Park, and the Buffalo National River. If you feel like being on two feet instead of two wheels, fourteen miles of hiking trails await you at Mount Nebo – just 75 miles a of great riding north of Hot Springs. Get to know the rest of outdoor Arkansas with the remaining 130 miles to Eureka Springs.
Let the people of Eureka Springs hear you ride into town after a tour of Arkansas’ greatest wilderness. With the entire city found in the National Register of Historic Places, Eureka Springs gives you more than enough reason to cruise into this settlement in the Ozark Mountains.
Catch Opera in the Ozarks, or the famed Great Passion Play. Check into one of two rider friendly Best Western hotels in Eureka Springs after your fun in northwest Arkansas. Whether exploring the art and theater of Eureka Springs, or saddling up for the ride back through the Ozarks, you’ll find the wind in your hair and the unforgettable beauty of outdoor Arkansas.
150 miles south from Piggott to Helena, Arkansas
There’s nothing quite like Arkansas’ Delta. Between the food, music and historical sites, touring the American Delta is full of unforgettable sights and sounds – especially when experienced from the back of a V-twin. Get acquainted with the Arkansas Delta and cruise down Crowley's Ridge Parkway skating along the eastern edge of the Natural State. Start in Piggott – a literary town thanks to frequent visitations by Ernest Hemingway and the in-town completion of “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
Take a stroll through the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center – a project of Arkansas State University – and visit the historical Pfeiffer House and Carriage House. From Piggott, make your way down the Delta – perhaps the perfect opportunity for your baby to fly. Only interrupt your zoom down Crowley’s Ridge Parkway for incredible stopping points like the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro – 50 miles southwest of Piggott.
Visit this beautiful patch of Natural State and take a hike down the Habitats Trail, or keep on trucking through the Craighead Forest Park. Check out exhibits and films at the nature center, or from the Crow’s Nest. Now throw that helmet back on – you’re not done with this road trip. Ride the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway into the city of Helena – a blues town home to the famed Delta Cultural Center. For another way into Helena, check out Civil War trails allowing you to ride in the footsteps of Confederate soldiers as they marched into town to battle the Union.
Follow James Fagan’s Arkansas troops on U.S. 49, or roar into town by way of L. Marsh Walker on Phillips Country Road 239. Find your way to the rider friendly Best Western hotel in West Helena for a comfortable and convenient stay in northeastern Arkansas. Whether reliving history in Helena or taking in the beauty of outdoor Arkansas in Jonesboro, your Delta motorcycle journey is waiting to fill some photo albums.
120-mile ride from El Dorado north to Hot Springs Whether this is your first adventure down Arkansas Scenic 7, or you happen to be a returning guest, its bound to be an unforgettable journey. Start in El Dorado and head down the Scenic 7 until you hit Hot Springs, 115 miles north. Along the way, take a break at the DeGray Lake Resort State Park near Arkadelphia – 80 miles northwest of El Dorado. Ride into Hot Springs for the Arkansas H.O.G. Rally – and you’ll fit right in.
El Dorado is a historic industry town sitting in southern Arkansas. Once an oil boomtown, El Dorado has a number of parks and recreational opportunities for any visitor. Stretch the legs before your trip up the 7 with a stroll through the South Arkansas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, or tee off at the Lions Club Park and Golf Course.
Then catch the Bugs, Bands & Bikes Festival in downtown El Dorado. This traditional bike show brings thousands of riders into town, and serves up the best of southern Arkansas’ food, music and games. You’ll still be picking the crawfish from your teeth as you roar out of town on your way to Hot Springs. Head to Hot Springs in June for the Arkansas H.O.G. Rally and find a spot by the Hot Springs Convention Center, the Summit Arena or the Lander’s Harley Davidson. Try your hand in poker, enjoy a guided ride, and shop through the Dice Walk.
Grab some grub at the H.O.G. Pen, and don’t miss live western music from famed headliners. Before heading out of town, make your way to the bike blessing at 7:00 a.m. Need a days rest before hitting the road? Hang up your riding boots at the Best Western hotel in Hot Springs. From bike festivals to the open road of the Arkansas Scenic 7, your cruise through south central Arkansas means great food, new friends and miles of natural beauty.
Texarkana north to Queen Wilhelmina Park, near Mena - 110 miles. Become an outdoorsman in western Arkansas. Start your Arkansas motorcycle tour along the western edge of the Natural State in Texarkana. Tucked away in the southwest corner of Arkansas, Texarkana offers its visitors exciting stops like the Texarkana Auto Museum, and plenty of historic homesteads. You can ride through town for a look at these architectural admirations, or rest up at the rider-friendly Best Western hotel in Texarkana.
About 30 miles north of Texarkana near the city of Ashdown, the Millwood State Park is known for great fishing and spectacular wildlife viewing. Cast out for largemouth or black bass – plus crappie, catfish and bream – or savor an afternoon of great bird watching. Hike along the Waterfowl Way Trail, and the Wildlife Lane Nature Trail, or saddle back up for the 100-mile ride through Arkansas’ wilderness to the Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
Skirting the western edge of Arkansas, the Talimena National Scenic Byway is a lush stretch of road taking you from the city of Mena and the Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Introduce yourself to the Ouachita Mountains with a trip to Lover’s Leap – an unforgettable overlook of the Ouachita National Forest.
Keep an eye out for wildlife, and sit down for dinner at Queen's Restaurant. Take a stroll down the Spring Trail, or see how much of 225-mile Ouachita Trail you can get under your belt. Between the fishing at Millwood Lake to the spectacular views of Queen Wilhelmina State Park, you can see for yourself how western Arkansas earns the "natural" in Natural State.
Ride the Great River Road from McGehee to Helena
Here’s your chance to travel 100 miles of Arkansas' Great River Road. Start in the quaint town of McGehee – a historic community found in southeastern Arkansas. Enjoy a picnic at the Wiley McGehee Park, stretch your legs with a round of golf at the Delta Country Club, or settle into the rider friendly Best Western hotel in McGehee. Rest up, and set out for Helena on the Great River Road – a scenic stretch of pavement neighboring the Mississippi River. Coursing through 10 states – from “Canada to the Gulf” – this historic trail brings out the wide array of Arkansas landscapes.
Ride through the hills and twists of the Great River Road, and finish up in Helena – an Arkansas Delta city chock full of history, blues and that special kind of Mississippi River culture. Music fans love their time in Helena. Explore this blues town with a trip to the Delta Cultural Center found in downtown Helena. This center acts as an educational center and living tribute to the good old days of eastern Arkansas consisting of three buildings – the visitors’ center, former train depot, and the historic Moore-Hornor House.
The Delta Cultural Center takes you from the darkness of the Civil War to the toe-tapping good times of blues-heavy radio programming all those years ago. The heritage of Helena doesn’t just live in the cultural center, but comes to life each year with the King Biscuit Festival. A celebrated spin-off of the 15-munite blues program “King Biscuit Time,” this festivity brings thousands of music lovers to town each autumn.
This year, Dr. John and the Lower 911, Taj Mahal and the mighty B.B. King are coming to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the King Biscuit Festival. After the festival, check into the Best Western hotel in West Helena, and let the fun of the day set in. Cap off your 100-mile journey down the Great River Road with some good old-fashioned blues – an Arkansas tradition if ever there was one.