Did you know Arkansas is known as “The Natural State”? This nickname comes from the state's beautiful scenery, crystal clear lakes, and bountiful wildlife. It houses 52 national parks where white oaks, eastern red cedar, and maples bend under the clear, night sky. Back in May 2021, we drove in during the night hours for a long weekend. During this drive, we instantly realized the state's tall trees and low light pollution created the perfect opportunity to chase the Milky Way. It was a late night but totally worth the view!
After waking from a great night sleep, Saturday morning we strapped on our boots and set off for Ponca, Arkansas. We stopped in at Low Gap Cafe and consumed the largest portobello dish I have ever witnessed. When our bellies were full, we set out to Big Bluff Goat Trail and spent the remainder of the day hiking the winding trails.
The following day was also full of adventures. While venturing out to the Ozark-St. Francis Overlook, we encountered turkey vultures, elk, deer, turtles, rabbits, and one lonely ribbon snake.
After a quick hike, we dined at Colton’s for lunch, and stopped for lattes from Big Cuppa, an outdoor coffeeshop strategically placed for tourist in between hikes.
We made our way to the infamous Petit Jean State Park to conquer the 4 mile, Seven Hollows Trail. During the hike, we witnessed tall bluffs, caves, natural bridges, and the infamous grotto.
After Seven Hollows, we gaped at the Cedar Falls Overlook and watched the waterfall pour into the grotto. With our long day of hiking, we decided on a big dinner and a restful evening.
Sunday was our rest day, and well deserved! We stopped into New Life Church in Conway to meet a dear friend. Daniela, along with the rest of the amazing worship team, led us into a meaningful
worship service. After our light lunch, we drove around the gorgeous Hendrix College campus and stopped in at Blue Sail Coffee for a couple of lattes. Storm clouds began to roll in so we decided to continue our drive around the surrounding local towns.
We stumbled upon WordsWorth Bookstore and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge & Library right off the Arkansas River Trail.
On Monday, we knew our travels were coming to an end and it was time to head home. We scouted out a cute coffee shop called, Zeteo Coffee and dined on a home-cooked breakfast at Bob’s Grill.
We drove through the Ouachita National Forest on the way home to Houston, with the lavishly tall pines hovering over us. This beautiful scene made us want to turn right back around and head back but, we made it home knowing we would be returning soon.
Whether you are looking to retreat from the busyness of life or yearn to hike the scenic trails, Arkansas is a splendid choice.
Join me next week for Part 2022!