Get an adventure in wilderness travel by heading to the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas. Here you will discover the beauty of a gorgeous forest, with lots of nature and some solitude to boot. The entire national forest lands consist of 1.2 million acres, giving the visitor endless opportunities at outdoor recreation. It’s great coming here in winter as the cooler temperatures make for wonderful hiking.
Enjoy the pleasure of some marvelous scenic byways within Ozark National Forest. Sixty miles of views are available on the Scenic 7 Byway. Drive through pine forests and stream valleys as you catch glimpses of the wildlife. Always check ahead for the current weather conditions as it can get cold within this region in winter months, particularly at night.
Another road to travel is the Ozark Highlands Byway which is the perfect destination for fishermen. This route gives you access to Big Piney Creek, Buffalo National River and Mulberry River. Overlook the Arkansas River Valley by taking the Mount Magazine Byway and head to the Blanchard Springs Caverns on the Sylamore Scenic Byway.
You won’t be able to resist spending some time at Blanchard Springs Caverns. This underground wonderland is a showcase of carved passages and rock formations. While here, take the Dripstone Trail Tour so you can really experience these caverns as they should be experienced. The tours are available all year through and you should allow about an hour for the full trip through the caves.
Then be sure to head to the tallest mountain in Arkansas, Mount Magazine. In fact, Mount Magazine State Park lies within Ozark National Forest and provides some great RV camping. For instance, the Cameron Bluff Campground is open all year round and has 30 and 50 amp electric service and water and sewer hookups. There are also a picnic table, grill and light pole at each site.
Lake Wedington is a great place to visit, situated within the Lake Wedington Recreation Area. The lake is huge, surrounded by forests and wildlife. Nearby a seven-mile-long hiking trail will take you into the nooks and crannies of the forest and let you get up close to this lovely natural wilderness. Fish for crappie, catfish, bass or bream. Small boats are permitted and there is a boat launch on the lake.
If the weather permits, go on up to the top of White Rock Mountain. Take a walk or go hiking, it’s up to you. The Rim Trail is a favorite. This path takes you around the mountain with a number of stone and timber shelters along the way where you can stop and rest. Hike to Shores Lake and as you go you’ll be treated with views of waterfalls and plenty of wildlife.
There are a number of designated wildernesses in this national forest. Upper Buffalo Wilderness is one, with over 11,000 acres of incredible valleys and hills, some quite rugged. Not too many venture here in winter, but if you do, you’ll get to see ice encrusted waterfalls with ice hanging in frozen drips. The other wilderness area you may like to visit is the Hurricane Creek Wilderness with a short loop hike so you can truly experience this wonderful spot. The Ozark Highlands Trail crosses this region and is considered one of the most scenic trails in the U.S.
If you love waterfalls, you’ll love Richland Creek Wilderness. Not only are there waterfalls to fascinate and inspire, but you will see oak and hickory forest and crystal clear streams and be able to climb some bluffs to get some marvelous views. If you bring your camera, you are sure to capture some images that will require framing and be there always to remind you of your trip.
Don’t even think about leaving and heading home, however, until you hike a couple of trails. The Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail is not just for horses. You can hike 34 miles of this trail or you can hike only a small section. You will find maps at the visitor center. The Wedington Hiking Trail is another popular place to hike. It is 7.5 miles one way and can take up to 12 hours to make the trip out and back. You will have to plan this one carefully. It is a moderate to strenuous trek. But even if this is one you skip, you are sure to know your RV trip to Ozark National Forest is one of the best you’ve ever taken.