If you’re looking for an amazing RV vacation, look no further than the Talimena National Scenic Byway – a 54-mile stretch of highway that runs along the ridge of the Ouachita Mountains, located at the border between the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Don’t just limit yourself to driving along the highway for an hour or two, however. There are enough things to do along this road that you could easily spend multiple days here, coming back to visit in every season. There are different sights to see and different activities to enjoy whether you come during the winter, spring, summer, or fall.
One thing you might want to do is see the mountains the way the original settlers did. You can take a number of hikes of different lengths, or rent horses for a day ride through the mountains.
Devoted birders will want to visit “Bird Island” in Lake Ouachita. The mountains are home to a wide variety of species of birds, including many that are extremely unusual and hard to find outside of this protected area. There is also a great deal of wildlife, much of it visible from the windows of your motorhome as you drive along the scenic highway.
The Ouachita Mountains are named from an Indian word meaning “hunting trip”, and there are still plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities to be had among the mountains. On the Arkansas side of the mountains, you can hunt bear, beaver, birds, bobcats, coyotes, deer, elk, fox, opossum, otters, raccoons, quail, turkey, and waterfowl. On the Oklahoma side of the mountains, you can hunt antelope, bear, birds, deer, pheasant, quail, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, and waterfowl. Of course, you must obtain the correct hunting permits from the appropriate state authorities. Also important to note is that in some parks you are required to display a permit in your vehicle. Please check the local authorities.
Other exciting additions to your RV vacation are the many watersports in the lakes and rivers of the Ouachita Mountains. You can take day trips or overnight adventures through whitewater rapids, go kayaking, or go boating on the many lakes.
A short distance away in the San Bois Mountains, you’ll find the notorious Robbers Cave. This location is known to have been a hideout used by Jesse James and Belle Starr. Nowadays, it is popular with those who love exploring caves, as well as climbers and rappellers who traverse up and down the outside of the cave.
There are plenty of RV Parks in the countryside around the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Some are rustic campgrounds, some include horseback riding and trail rides, and one even includes a health spa.
While you’re here, be sure to sample the local barbecue. It’s considered a specialty. There are also a number of local artisans that sell their wares at specialty shops tucked away in remote locations. You can find antiques, novelties, and curios. Don’t worry about buying too much, because you can always store your finds in your RV!
Picture credits: The picture of the Talimena Scenic Byway is from the National Scenic Byways website. It is public domain by Dennis Adams.