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Route: 463-miles of the most beautiful landscapes on the way from Ouachita mountains to the Ozarks National Parks
Time: If you like miles, two days. If you enjoy camping, three days. If you love exploring, 4+ days
Roads: Mostly paved, with the option to detour off into the gravel and dirt roads
Google Maps Full Route Guide
Ouachita Mountain to Hot Springs National Park 100-miles
Your drive begins at the foot of the Ouachita mountains and travels all the way down to Hot Springs National Park, following the AR-88 E and US-270 E route through the Talimena Scenic Drive.
Talimena Scenic Drive it’s scenic byway climbs, dips, and twists through a 54-mile route in the Ouachitas along the Arkansas-Oklahoma border. The Ouachita (wash-i-taws) are the rare mountain range in the U.S. that runs east-west, rather than north-south. For an even better look at these mountains, get off the road, which follows Arkansas AR-88, and takes a hike along the Ouachita National Recreation Trail.
Image: @louisianahikes Ouachita mountains view
Hot Springs National Park it’s a collection of hot springs in the lush Ouachita Mountains, discovered by Native Americans 3,000 years ago and visited for their purported healing properties. After a long day on the bike, you’ll enjoy these healing properties.
The Park was founded by President Andrew Jackson back in 1831 in an effort to preserve 47 of its natural thermal springs. It’s the oldest park in the National Park System! Apart from marveling at the wonders of its thermal springs, pick up some local knowledge by visiting the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center. Not only do you get to learn about those who huddled in this area years ago to seek remedies for a multitude of illnesses, but you get to soak in the breathtaking beauty of the bathhouse – from its exquisite marbling to its pristine stained glass.
The Lamar Bathhouse is one of several historical bathhouses in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The eponymous springs that gave the spa town and park its name were first protected in the 1830s, the first area in the U.S. to be preserved for its natural features. Hot Springs National Park is nothing like most visitors would expect. There are no spectacular Yellowstone-like springs or geysers amid a mountainous setting. Instead, the park protects a historic district showcasing the structures along Bathhouse Row where famous figures such as Babe Ruth and Al Capone once relaxed.
Image: @tmikelsmith Awesome views from high up in Arkansas
Hot Springs National Park to Mount Magazine State Park 82-miles
Your next drive will be almost all the way down to Harrison by AR-7 but last 25 miles you need to drive the AR10. Your destination is Mount Magazine State Park.
Mount Magazine – the highest point in Arkansas at 2,753-feet. It’s where you’ll find the most breathtaking views in the state.
This state park boasts sweeping vistas of distant mountains and fertile river valleys – there are several great hiking trails and lookouts in the area, as you might imagine. Mount Magazine is also an ideal weekend getaway spot for outdoor lovers who don’t want to sacrifice comfort for nature: stay at the Lodge at Mount Magazine or one of several cabins strung along the mountain’s south bluff and enjoy the insanely beautiful views from your room.
Mount Magazine State Park to Eureka Springs 113-miles
The fastest way to get to the next stage of adventure , is via the AR23.
Eureka Springs is a fantastic place to take your motorbike as it has been selected as one of America’s Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The entire city is on the National Register of Historic Places as the Eureka Springs Historic District, any turn here is a good one. Eureka Springs was initially called “The Magic City” and later the “Stair-Step-Town” because of its mountainous terrain and the winding, up-and-down paths of its streets and walkways. Hopefully you packed you some shoes to swap out for your biker boots, you’ll need them.
Eureka Springs is a tourist destination with a unique character and a Victorian resort village. The city has steep winding streets filled with Victorian-style cottages and manors, with well-preserved Victorian buildings in the town’s core. The buildings are primarily constructed of local stone, built along streets that curve around the hills and rise and fall with the topography in a five-mile-long loop. Some buildings have street-level entrances on more than one floor. The streets wind around the town, and no two intersect at a 90-degree angle. There are also no traffic lights, so ride with care.
If you’ve worked up an appetite by this stage of the ride, check out the Local Flavor Café. The place is usually busy, a good sign, and turns out impressive casual food and drinks. Try the breaded chicken cutlet or a Bellini and see for yourself.
Eureka Springs to Thorncrown Chapel 3-miles
After turning right onto the 62 for about 3 miles, you will see the beauty of the historical Thorncrown Chapel.
Built in 1980 by superstar architect E Fay Jones, this incredible church is made almost entirely of organic materials taken from the surrounding wilderness.
The majestic Thorncrown Chapel, located in Eureka Springs, is an exquisitely designed wood-and-glass structure – it contains 425 windows using more than 6,000 square feet of glass – tucked away in a serene woodland setting, great for exploring.
Image: @wanderfull_pix Buffalo River. Impossible beautiful, take a deep breath before it takes your breath away.
Thorncrown Chapel to Buffalo National River 62-miles
The same 62-road will give you a way to the next gorgeous natural destination Buffalo National River. The last 47-miles you need to drive on the AR-21 and turn left to AR-43 for 13 miles before the you reach the point.
Buffalo National River it’s America’s first national river, and begins in the Arkansas’ Boston Mountains then flows north-eastwards through the Ozark Mountains.
Arkansas’ finest natural beauty, the Buffalo National River, is flanked by majestic limestone bluffs and dotted with dozens of waterfalls. It’s ideal for hiking, camping and soaking up the state’s unspoiled wilderness. But the best way to explore the river is to be on it: plan to rent a canoe, raft or kayak during float season, which starts on the upper Buffalo in early spring. Sadly, none of these can be done on your motorcycle, but it’s fun to get here on it.
Buffalo National River to Arkansas Grand Canyon 15-miles
To get to this Canyon will barely warm up your oil as it’s only 15 miles from the Buffalo River, but feels worlds away.
Here, you’re finally greeted by the legendary Grand Canyon! 130-feet down the massive rock walls are the Boston Mountains. Exploring the exquisite terrain and the flowing river is accessible through the Jasper on AR-74 with kayak rentals aplenty. There’s even the Hilary Jones Wildlife Museum, if you’ve got a kid strapped to your seat they’ll get a kick out of it! Well, big kids like you too ☺
Arkansas Grand Canyon to Branson 58-miles
Come on, it’s the last long stretch for your Roadster! You’ll need to drive on the 6, then, as soon as you get to the 65, turn and go straight to Branson.
Branson’s neon signs light up the night sky along the town’s the 76 “Strip.” Imagine a mini-Las Vegas — albeit much more family-friendly — with a county music theme right in the middle of the Ozark Mountains. The city bills itself as the “Live Entertainment Capital of the World,” and while Vegas and other cities might dispute that title, Branson has enough star power and shows to make a strong argument.
Beyond the music venues, you’ll also find everything from theme attractions (Ripley’s, etc.) to golf, boutiques and art galleries. There is so much variety of entertainment in Branson, trying to describe this town in words or even photos is virtually impossible. You’ll likely want to book a room here for the night and enjoy the sites. Check into the Chateau Lake Resort and Spa if you like pampering or have a corporate credit card.
Image: silverdollarcity.com “The Boat”. If a ride on this paddle-powered boat doesn’t take you back a year or two, I don’t know what will.
Branson to Showboat Branson Belle 10-miles
Channel your inner Mark Twain on this 1880s-replica paddle-wheeler that cruises Table Rock Lake in Branson, Mo. TripAdvisor gives it a 4.5 out of 5 stars, with high praise for the food, which always seems to be an afterthought on cruise tours of this nature. Trading your bike motor for a boat motor will be a nice addition to this road. Stop, enjoy, then continue on.
Showboat Branson Belle to Ozark Mountains 20-miles
The Ozarks, also called the Ozark Mountains or Ozark Plateau. Are not only a Netflix show about drugs & money, but it’s also one of the U.S. physiographic regions that touch on; Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and extreme southeastern Kansas. The Ozarks cover a significant portion of northern Arkansas and most of the southern half of Missouri, extending from Interstate 40 in Arkansas to the Interstate 70 in central Missouri.
There are two mountain ranges within the Ozarks: the Boston Mountains of Arkansas and the St. Francois Mountains of Missouri. Buffalo Lookout, the highest point in the Ozarks, is located in the Boston
Mountains. Geologically, the area is a broad dome with the exposed core in the ancient St. Francois Mountains, some of the oldest rocks in North America. The Ozarks cover nearly 47,000 square miles, making it the most extensive highland region between the Appalachians and Rockies. Together with the Ouachita Mountains, the area is known as the U.S. Interior Highlands.
The Salem Plateau, named after Salem, Missouri, makes up the largest geologic area of the Ozarks. The second largest is the Springfield Plateau, named after Springfield, Missouri, nicknamed the “Queen City of the Ozarks.” On the northern Ozark border are the cities of St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri. Significant cities in Arkansas include Fayetteville. If you can handle anymore Ozarks facts, stop in at a local tourist information center and I’m sure they’ll give you your fill.
With such rich history and stunning landscapes through this part of America, seeing it all in a weekend would be a speedy shame. Book off a day or two on either side of a long weekend and get to know your some American history on the back of your bike. Stop, take in a hike, do some camping, or enjoy a few cocktails in Branson. However much time you have to tackle the Ouachita and Ozark area of Arkansas, it will be enjoyed!