The secret is out. Motorcyclists riding Arkansas highways, from the mountainous back roads to the Mississippi Delta plains, are discovering scenic beauty and fun. Let’s ride!
Dual Sport and Motorcycle Routes are Waiting
The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s website features 21 timeless motorcycle rides. A nice mix of on/off road dual sport and traditional touring routes are incorporated. Detailed maps and descriptions with highlights along the way are provided for each route. Click on the link below, or throw planning to the wind and let the open road beckon. Either way, here are a few options from around the state:
Northwest Arkansas is a beautiful corner of Arkansas with stunning museums like Crystal Bridges and outdoor settings like Beaver Lake. Almost a dozen motorcycling routes show off the region. Natural Dam to Boxley Valley combines remote wooded trails of the Ozark National Forest and serpentine state roads. The natural dam at Boxley is a highlight. The 112-mile Eureka Springs Art & Heritage Tour features the historic downtown of Eureka Springs, named “One of America’s Best Main Streets” by Yahoo Travel. Gateway, Bentonville and Fayetteville are also part of this memorable ride. Other routes, like Pig Trail Scenic Byway/Side Trip to Oark, Ozark Moonshine Run and Jasper Disaster, are inviting as well.
The Ozark National Forest Ride is a dual sport route that travels 105 miles. This North Central Arkansas route takes about six hours to complete traveling between Calico Rock and Prim. Traveling through the Ozark National Forest there’s plenty of stunning scenery. Blanchard Springs Caverns in Fifty-Six is a stop worth taking. The Ozark Folk Center State Park continues the traditions of early settlers and is 30 minutes off the route from the caverns. The Ozark National Forest surrounds you throughout this route.
The Upper Delta Region has eight routes. The Great River Road National Scenic Highway follows a series of state and U.S. highways alongside the Mississippi River. Good Southern cooking and the boyhood home of Johnny Cash are just a few of the highlights of this 312-mile ride. The Gateway Gap/Rock N’ Roll Highway is a fun ride that blends music history and scenic beauty. If you must get off the highway, the Great River Off-Road Ride is perfect. A highlight of this 176-mile route is Crowley’s Ridge, an unusual geological formation rising from the Delta flatlands.
The Bayou Bartholomew, the longest bayou in the world at 359 miles, highlights Arkansas’ Lower Delta Region. It’s only fitting that 123 enthralling miles be carved out for the Bayou Bartholomew/Rohwer Memorial Loop. At one time a wide waterway with steamboats and barges, today it’s the second most ecological diverse waterway in the nation. Crossing the bayou takes the rider from the Delta on the east to the Timberlands to the west, two distinct geographical divisions. Allow time for a stop at the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in Rohwer. The Grand Prairie Loop is a leisurely ride through small towns and farming communities. Grab a hamburger at Cothman’s Mercantile.
The Southwest Region of Arkansas borders Texas and Louisiana and is home to the Crater of Diamonds State Park. It is the only diamond site open to the public and still regularly producing significant finds. Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs is a National Historic Landmark, and Hope is the birthplace of former President Bill Clinton. The 243-mile Diamond Run/Side Trip to Historic Washington includes the Gangster Museum of America in Hot Springs. This 166-mile route through rich timberlands includes Hope and Texarkana. Stop for a visit to the Four State Antique Auto Museum. The dual sport Crystal Springs Ride is set in the Ouachita Mountains, an unusual east-west mountain range.
Highlighting the Central Region are the Clinton Presidential Library, Heifer International and The Old Mill. You may recognize the latter as the gristmill in the opening scene of Gone with the Wind. The dual sport route Paris to Lake Sylvia connects the Ozark and Ouachita national forests. The views at Mount Magazine State Park are outstanding. The Petit Jean Mountain Climb begins in Hot Springs and loops for 141 miles. Petit Jean State Park is Arkansas’ first state park. A pleasant ride for motorcyclists is the Pinnacle Mountain/Greers Ferry Loop from Little Rock north to Drasco and Fairfield Bay and back to the Arkansas state capital.
Festivals and rallies guarantee a good time
Summer and fall are great seasons to ride and explore Arkansas, and there are plenty of events to experience. The annual Motorcycle Memories in Fort Smith exhibits vintage motorcycles. Mountains, Music and Motorcycles takes place in Mountain View with concerts, biker games and biker night at the drive-in. Fayetteville’s Bikes, Blues & BBQ Festival is the nation’s largest charity motorcycle rally.
County fairs, carnivals and festivals, with great food and music, are always part of the Arkansas way. No matter when you visit, or where your ride takes you, most likely there’s an event on the route.
Whether you’re traveling with a group or just a few friends, there are comfortable accommodations on every Arkansas road trip. From cabins, cottages and campgrounds to lodges, hotels and bed & breakfasts, you’ll find the perfect place to stay.
Meals for every taste
Get ready for a real Southern dining experience and a heavy dose of hospitality. The flavors never stop in Arkansas’ fabled eateries. A perfect spot to begin satisfying any appetite is the Arkansas dining website. It’s loaded with restaurant reviews and blogs and Southern food festivals.