Monday, October 4, 2010

Arkansas Ozarks Are A Great Place For Family Foliage Road Trips

The fall foliage season in the Arkansas Ozarks attracts families from all over the state and beyond to its vibrantly colored forests.

Imagine thousands of leaves tumbling off of large, old trees and you can visualize the town of Harrison, where Maplewood Cemetery (pictured here) hosts over 733 mature maple trees. Traditionally they show their fall colors during the later part of October.

We can't guarantee when the colors will peak, but we can share 3 fun driving tours that guarantee scenic views.  Each is less than a half day, so be sure to pack a picnic lunch and take the time to pause, eat, admire and collect some colorful leaves. And if you have more time, be sure to visit Hope and The Clinton Trail to learn more about our former president and his roots in the state.
Here are three scenic drives that originate in Harrison, Arkansas:

1. Leave the Harrison Square heading south on Highway 7. Turn right on Arkansas Highway 43 towards Compton and Ponca. Five miles out of Harrison you’ll climb Gaither Mountain. Be sure and stop at the overlook (on the left) when you reach the summit. This is one of the best views that you will see of  the Harrison area. You’ll then pass through Compton and on to Ponca. The three mile descent into Ponca offers spectacular views off the right side of your car. As you pass through Ponca be sure to look for elk in the field just before you turn left on Arkansas Highway 74 and cross the Buffalo National River. Once you have negotiated the several switch backs up the mountain, consider the short jaunt (left turn) down to Steel Creek on the Buffalo. If the timing is right, the bluffs across the river should be ablaze with fall color. Head back up the hill and turn left back on Highway 74 towards Jasper. About half way you’ll pass through Low Gap, and a side trip down into this remote Arkansas hamlet should be worth the time. Jasper is the county seat of Newton County, one of Arkansas’ least populated (less than 8,000 residents). Circle the tiny square and head north to Harrison via Scenic Highway 7. You’ll cross the Buffalo again at Pruitt, and the bluff on the left side of the road might just surprise you. Harrison is a short drive from Pruitt. Total miles roundtrip; 62 miles.

2. Take the same route out of Harrison. Five miles passed Compton, turn right on Arkansas 103 towards Osage. When you arrive in Osage, be sure and stop at the Stamps store. It’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. You’ll find it a pleasant stop. After you leave the store, turn right on U.S. 412 and head back to Harrison through Alpena. At the stop sign there, turn right. After three miles turn right on Highway 392 back to Harrison. Just after you pass through Batavia, Pilot’s Knob will be on your right. You’ll come back into Harrison at the square. Total miles roundtrip; 51 miles.

3. Take Highway 7 north from Harrison to Bergman. Just passed Bergman, turn left on Highway 281. After seven miles, turn right on Highway 14 back towards Lead Hill. A left turn in Lead Hill back on Highway 7 will take you to Diamond City on Bull Shoals Lake. Retreat back to Harrison via Highway 7. Total miles roundtrip; 53 miles.

Remember, the right combination of precipitation and temperatures are key to making the leaves change. Before you plan a trip to the Ozarks, call ahead for a report at 870-741-1789.  You can also go to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism website at and go to the “Things To Do” link for a status report.

There are numerous hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts for overnight accommodations in Harrison, along with many places to eat and shop. Contact the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau at 780-741-1789 or visit their website at for additional information.

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