Within a twenty mile radius of Downtown, the greater Eureka Springs’ area offers convenient accessibility to a wealth of outdoor activities such as Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake, Kings River, White River, Thorncrown Chapel, Blue Springs Heritage Center, Black Bass Lake, Lake Leatherwood, the Hogscald and Big Clifty areas, plus Holiday Island. For even more activities within this area, there are numerous providers: Ozark Mountain Ziplines, scenic horseback riding stables, Starkey Park Marina, Beaver Dam Site Park, the 12,000-acre Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, Madison County Game Refuge, War Eagle Mill, War Eagle Cavern, Onyx Cave, Cosmic Caverns, Roaring River State Park and Trout Hatchery, the Mark Twain National Forest with miles of ATV trails, Buffalo National River, Dogwood Canyon, Beaver Town, and the Pea Ridge National Military Park. All are examples of the excellent outdoor adventures waiting to be experienced, and all of these places are just a short drive away when anyone chooses “America’s Victorian Village” as their extraordinary escape vacation hub.
Although many of these outdoor wonders are accessible and enjoyable the year-round, many are at their peak during the months of spring, especially late April and early May. This is when The Ozarks’ hillsides are all abloom and fully green with temperatures comfortably mild. Here is a little bit more about some of these attractive spring attractions:
- Eureka Springs is known for its rugged landscape making it a mountain biking haven. The truth is, experienced mountain bikers and those who are just getting into it will find that Eureka Springs has something to offer for all levels and interests. Adventure Mountain Outfitters is the local cycling authority and offers rentals, repairs and comprehensive information on the sport. The reason is clear why Eureka Springs is the home of major events like the Fat Tire Festival.
- Whether you have 30 minutes or all day, hiking in and around Eureka Springs is spectacular. Easily accessible trails are located near most Eureka Springs lodging. For some light hiking, try following some of the city historic trails marked by historic plaques; discover the dozens of historic natural springs flowing full from springtime rain; or explore Eureka Springs prettiest street, Spring Street “boulevard”. For day hiking, consider hiking along Lake Leatherwood trails or visit Blue Spring Heritage Center.
- Record crowds will again fly high over The Ozarks as they experience the exhilarating thrill of a zip line canopy tour right in the heart of the beautiful, pristine Ozark Mountains of Eureka Springs. Screams of delight and thunder of excited laughter from patrons of Ozark Mountain Ziplines will pierce the woodland silence as they soar through the air from up to 300 feet high with cable lengths up to 2,000 feet long over vast gorgeous, beautiful Ozark hardwood trees and limestone cliffs.
- Black Bass Lake is a natural area located on 200 hidden acres and only a quarter of a mile from the heart of downtown Eureka Springs. Black Bass Lake presently has two-and-a-half miles of hiking trails although construction has begun to connect the trails between Black Bass Lake and Lake Leatherwood. In addition to hiking, Black Bass Lake offers a historic and picturesque dam, beautiful scenery, and great fishing on the lake itself. This is a perfect spot to spend a warm afternoon taking in the wonders of nature.
- A little south of Eureka Springs, there is the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, a safe haven for big cats such as tigers, lions, leopards, and cougars. Additionally, they have bears and other animals that visitors can watch for an extraordinary wildlife adventure. Turpentine Creek also hosts Eureka’s Annual Kite Festival.
- Not far from Turpentine Creek, sits Quigley Castle, a unique dwelling built for a woman -by that woman- who wanted to bring nature indoors. The one-of-a-kind structure was hand-constructed with rocks and stones she collected from all over the world.
- Just off Arkansas Highway 12, War Eagle Mill is a scenic place and home to not only the Bean Palace Restaurant but also one of America’s most successful craft shows. The mill sits alongside War Eagle Creek, which drives their burrstone wheel, and home for fishing and for feeding the ducks.
- Nearby War Eagle Cavern offers a bat’s eye view of stunning underground scenery, nature paths, gem and fossil panning, and lodging.
- Beaver Lake, west of Eureka, has 500 miles of shoreline alone. It boasts some of the best fishing in the area, with many fishing tournaments held annually. Visitors can kayak, catch a trophy bass, striper, or walleye, and then relax in one of the many parks offering camping, picnicking, and swimming. This crystal-clear lake is the fifth most visited lake in the country that is operated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Starkey Park offers camping, a marina and boat launch, fishing, water sports, eagle watch, pavilion and is home to The Belle of the Ozarks, a “ship” offering wonderful sightseeing excursions including those that “set sail” to do some seasonal eagle watching.
- The Dam Site Park is one of the most popular parks in the area and is located near Beaver Dam. From this are guests may enjoy sailing, power house tours, fishing, scuba diving, and driving tours.
- At C&J Sports, located near Beaver Dam, guests can make their way through an excellent archery course, or play a game of paintball. Scuba diving is offered and quite popular in the clear waters of Beaver Lake.
- The White River, also west of Eureka Springs, is known for some of the best trout fishing anywhere. There are stores in the area that are well equipped to outfit anyone wishing to have an adventure on the White River, whether it is fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, or anything else a visitor can dream up.
- A little farther out U.S. Highway 62 West, Blue Spring Heritage Center is on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been drawing visitors since 1948. Thirty-eight million gallons of clear water pour out daily into the trout filled sparkling blue lagoon below. Blue Spring with its unique bluff shelter was part of the Trail of Tears upon which Cherokee and other Native American tribes traveled to their new, designated home in Oklahoma.
- Near Blue Spring, Inspiration Point rises high above the White River valley, and has a spectacular view that beckons guests to pull off the road and take in the tranquil scenery.
- E. Fay Jones globally award-winning Thorncrown Chapel, also known as the “glass chapel”, is home to thousands of weddings each year and can be seen peeking out through the treetops west of Eureka. Its distinctive architecture proudly displays 425 windows and 6,000 square feet of glass with interior acoustics that must be heard to be believed.
- Traveling east of Eureka Springs, the choices in outdoor activities are abundant. The Kings River is waiting to show guests some beautiful scenery. This river is about 90 miles long, and has many attractive features, such as colorful bluffs, unique flora and fauna, and is a fine place to watch for wildlife. Many eagles have been spotted along the banks of the Kings. The small-mouth bass fishing is excellent, as are the float trips in a canoe or kayak.
- Caving offers abundant venues in the greater Eureka area. For example, Onyx Cave, which was discovered in 1891, is one of the oldest show caves in Arkansas. They offer tours that include beautiful underground formations. Cosmic Caverns, close to Berryville, has many one-of-a-kind natural wonders. It has been named one of the top 10 show caves in the U.S. with its two underground bottomless lakes (lakes in which divers have never found the bottom), one of which features cave trout. Rare, blind cave salamanders sometimes show themselves during tours at nearby Cosmic Caverns.
- Still on the east side of town, visitors can experience one of the best ways to enjoy the scenery of The Ozarks via horseback. Red Bud Riding Stables, a family-owned business, has been showing folks around the “hills-n-hollers” on horseback for more than 20 years. The hospitable guides at Red Bud are knowledgeable about plant and animal life, and the trails cover a variety of terrain on the privately owned wildlife preserve.
- Also for enthusiastic equestrians, the Dinner Bell Ranch & Resort is a place where the horseback rides are suitable for all ages and skill levels. The trails offer spectacular panoramic views, as well as possible wildlife sightings. Riders can choose from many different types and lengths of rides, anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Guests can have a real outdoor experience with breakfast, lunch, or dinner rides where a tasty meal is cooked up over a campfire.
- Back to the west, the town of Beaver is one of those charming little spots where visitors love to explore. The history there is rich with old trails and the much-photographed Beaver Town Bridge. This “Little Golden Gate” bridge is a 554-foot single-lane expansion over the White River. The Beaver Recreation Park is located here, with camping, floating, RV Park, boat launch and a quaint little store. Rock Climbing is a popular sport in this area.
Jack Moyer, general manager of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa with its surrounding 15 acres of forested hillsides and manicured gardens and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel that sits in the midst of a web of urban trails, stated, “We are adamant supporters of Eureka Springs’ great outdoors. In fact, we tell our guests and visitors to ‘Just get out!’. We of course mean it as our invitation for them to ‘Get outdoors!’ while they are visiting us, encouraging them to enjoy all of the wonderful outdoor sights and activities our glorious region offers, especially in late April and early May.”
For more information, one should go to EurekaSpringsOnline.com.