By Hannah Ash
Arkansas is famously known as the Natural State, so it should come as no surprise that Northwest Arkansas has some of the most beautiful parks in the nation tucked away amidst the Ozark Mountains. Northwest Arkansas is proud to be the home of several state parks, plus a plethora of interesting local parks, each with their own unique offerings.
The largest of Arkansas’ 52 state parks is Hobbs State Park and Conservation Area, located on the southern shores of Beaver Lake. As a conservation area, Hobbs is an education center for visitors, featuring interactive exhibits on the park’s unique limestone landscape, natural resources and history. With thirty-six miles of hiking and biking trails spread out over 12,000 acres of park, there is plenty to see at Hobbs! Additionally, Hobbs is the only state park in Arkansas to allow regulated hunting during approved seasons.
In West Fork lies the park which solidifies Arkansas’ reputation as the Natural State, Devil’s Den State Park. Located about twenty minutes south of Fayetteville, Devil’s Den is home to eleven different trails, seventeen cabins, and 135 campsites, all spread throughout 2,500 acres. Their trails are great for hiking and biking, and for those who prefer watersports, the Devil’s Den Dam has created Lake Devil, a gorgeous eight-acre body of water perfect for leisurely canoeing. Devil’s Den is also proud to host several events throughout the year, including the Ozark Mountain Bike Festival every Spring.
Smaller by comparison but in no way less mesmerizing is Withrow Springs State Park in Huntsville, which is best known for its ideal floating and canoeing season from March until June. It is also the only place on earth where one can find the rare Ozark Trillium flower!
While there are gorgeous state parks to visit, each city in Northwest Arkansas is home to its own beautiful parks to patronize as well, and many have their own special niches! Rogers, for instance, has an immensely popular park specially made for mountain biking. The Railyard bike offers biking obstacles for all levels of mountain bikers, from beginner to challenging, plus there is a bike cleaning station to wash the dirt off after catching some air.
Siloam Springs hosts another one-of-a-kind park, the Siloam Springs Kayak Park. The man-made rapids are perfect for thrill seekers, or for those looking to relax. And there’s plenty of creek to float along in leisure. Just make sure to bring your own life jackets!
For the history buffs, there are two key Civil War battlefields that have been turned into educational parks right here in Northwest Arkansas. Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park is one of the most well-preserved Civil War battlegrounds in the nation, and hosts epic reenactments of the battle the first weekend of December of every even numbered year. The Pea Ridge Battlefield, site of “the battle that saved Missouri for the Union,” is now a United States National Military Park. Both Civil War battlefield parks offer guided tours and play host to an onsite museum, where guests can further interact with the rich local history.
The Natural State is so endlessly full of beauty just ready to be explored, and all across Northwest Arkansas, there is plenty of outdoor fun for the whole family! From the quaint castle playground at Wilson Park in Fayetteville to Bentonville’s Bark Park for doggos, there is something for everyone to enjoy.