Biker Vacation to Eureka Springs

This time of year here in the “hills-n-hollers” of The Ozarks you can hear the breeze whispering through the trees, the sweet lilt of native songbirds, the chattering of scurrying squirrels and off in the distance you can hear the iconic gentle rumbling of motorcycles as they travel to and from this Victorian village.  What you don’t hear are the “Wow!”s that resonate in the minds of each and every biker as LeanIntoEurekaSprings_300_7x5he or she leans into yet another thrilling curve, staples of the highways that surround Eureka Springs.

“Eureka Springs has been so blessed with a topography that seems as though it was designed just for motorcyclists,” said Bill Ott, former board chairman of the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce.  “What some might call our twisty, curvy highways are like tracks of a rollercoaster to those who venture out on two or three wheels.  Our neck of the Arkansas Ozarks is a biker’s dream come true.”

One of the most popular motorcycle rides in the country is a stretch of Highway 23 that has gained the designation of Scenic Byway.  Its natural beauty and grand vistas that run along its shoulder makes it a pretty drive.  Its hairpin S-curves and numerous steep switchbacks makes “The Pig Trail” (aptly named due to its resemblance of the corkscrew tail of a native razorback hog) a pretty thrilling ride.Hwy_7_Harrison_motorcycles_l

Sitting atop The Pig Trail is Eureka Springs,” explained Ott.  “That is why local residents have mapped out five great rides that start and end in a place known for its hospitality and for taking care of weary travelers.  They even secured a website to make it easy for bikers to discover these rides for an exhilarating multi-day biker destination getaway.  That way it’s ride by day, relax by night in a resort community with great places where bikers can put down their kickstands and then kick back.”

The website, EurekaSpringsMotorcycleRides.com, has put together a list of local lodging, dining, and attraction venues.  Ozark mountain resources, an events calendar and a chance for bikers to add their comments to a blog following their experiential excursion to the greater Eureka Springs area can also be found at this online site.  This is in addition to the well-mapped, and well-appointed five suggested mountain rides.

“Those five rides take you to or by some really awesome places,” Ott added.  “The first ride takes you into the Arkansas Grand Canyon and past the grazing elk near Boxley’s Lost Valley.  Ride ar126696298160718two takes you on The Pig Trail through Ozone and back through Withrow State Park.  Number three centers around water, taking riders over the Little Golden Gate Bridge and the dam that forms the popular Beaver Lake with the trout-filled White River just below.  The fourth ride is a sojourn to the Buffalo National River and across the famous Pruitt Bridge.  Ride number five travels north for about 10 miles into Missouri and its Roaring River State Park as well as Dogwood Canyon.  Each ride is both ‘outa sight’ and full of sights to see!”

Ott concluded, “As much as we want our friends on motorcycles to visit our area and have fun while they are here, we want even more for them to ride safely.  In fact, we want all of our visitors -no matter how many wheels they have under ‘em when they arrive here- when they return home to take with them nothing but lifetime memories that they can share again and again with family and friends.”

 

Eureka Springs Motorcycle Adventure

TWO-WHEELS, TWO-REASONS, TWO SEASONS:

A EUREKA SPRINGS MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE

All over the “lower 48”, men and woman who love their motorcycles are marking days off of their calendars as they count down to when they will pull on their leathers, fire mergedup their bikes and start their adventurous ride to the Arkansas Ozarks and one of “America’s Distinctive Destinations”, Eureka Springs.  The reasons are two-fold and it all centers on “pork” …The Pig Trail and Bikes Blues & BBQ.

               The Pig Trail is a not-so-straight ribbon of asphalt; in fact, the ribbon that looks like someone has scraped it across the edge of a scissor blade.  It stretches, for all practical and awesome purposes, from Interstate 40 near Ozark (AR) north along State Highway 23 to Eureka Springs, the gateway to northwest Arkansas.  This 80-mile route is universally praised in motorcycle magazines, on biker websites, and even by The Discovery Channel for being one of the best in America.  For example, MotorycleRoads.com has elevated the Pig Trail to the number eight position in their most recent “top 100” poll.  BikerBudz.com gives it a “highly recommend” while Motorcycle-USA.com refers to it as “my new favorite ride”.  The Discovery Channel has given the Pig Trail its highest mark yet: number two in the nation.

The official National Scenic Byways’ 19-mile portion of the Pig Trail starts as you enter the Ozark National Forest from the south and ends near Brashears (AR) as top-10-motorcycle-rides-2-pig-trail-625x450you exit the national forest to the north.  This route, which crosses both the Mulberry and the White rivers, has so many S-curves that motorcyclists are forced to make dozens of ultra-quick right-to-left-to-right and back again leans; perfect first-gear switchbacks.  But riders should not think the challenge of the ride is limited to “the forest”.  It starts once you exit Interstate 40 heading north and doesn’t end until you put down your kickstand for the night in Eureka Springs.

“The Scenic Byways section of the Pig Trail may be like the most thrilling point in a roller coaster ride,” one biker explained, “but like a roller coaster, the runs on either side (11 miles to the south; 50 miles to the north) are pretty exciting too.  For me, every year between late August and the Hunter’s Moon is when I enjoy the full 80-mile ride.  ‘Cuz if you’re gonna ride the Pig Trail, ya gotta go whole hog.”

“The highway going up to Eureka Springs and all those around that town,” he continued, “are one exhilarating rush.  I hub out of Eureka, a funky, biker-friendly basinmountain town with lots of places to stay, lots of places to play.  I’ll spend four or five days searching out new Ozark roads with new crazy curves and new breathtaking sights.  It’s like a rally every day.  Plus Eureka’s only about 45 minutes from Fayetteville and the ‘triple-B’, Bikes Blues & BBQ.”

For Bikes Blues & BBQ the aforementioned “whole hog” is dressed, seasoned, grilled till tender, slathered with sauce, and then served up razorback-style when more than 400,000 bikers converge on Fayetteville (AR) for the four fabulous days of this event in September.  This year this awesome fall festival goes from September 18th through the 21st.

“One of the best parts of Bikes Blues & BBQ,” a biker from Central Texas, who has not missed any one of the previous 13 annual events, proudly stated, “is that you 1aNWbikes4colCOLOR_t610don’t just get a festival, you get the Pig Trail and all of its Ozark side-roads.  Me and my group like to arrive a couple days early or stay a couple days late to make sure we have plenty of time for day rides to and around Eureka on their fantastically freaky yellow-striped trails.  We only wish we had routes like this back in Texas.”

To make it easy for those who attend Bikes Blues & BBQ to find new, thrilling nearby routes, both the event and Eureka Springs have online sites for maps and directions: http://www.bikesbluesandbbq.org/rally-info/maps-directions/ and http://www.eurekaspringsmotorcycleroutes.com/ .

If you are unable to attend the “triple-B event” do not despair, because “does Mother Nature have a deal for you” in October and often through early November!  imagesThere is no more lovely autumn color than the reds, oranges, golds and violets of the Ozarks when fall falls.  To help you with perfect timing, the State of Arkansas, beginning in September each year, has a “fall color updates” page on their very popular Arkansas.com website.

And speaking of the State of Arkansas, their Department of Parks & Tourism has developed a short movie that will whet your appetite and make you hungry for a motorcycle vacation to “The Natural State”.  It just so happens that a local motorcycle enthusiast who is also the Mayor of Eureka Springs, Morris Pate, narrates the movie.  His narration begins with him and his 2001 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic parked in front of the “Little Golden Gate Bridge” just a few minutes west from downtown Eureka.

“The Beaver Bridge is a landmark that must not be missed,” bragged Mayor Pate.  “This beautiful old wooden suspension bridge was built in 1949 and is 554 feet long, only 11 feet wide and has been painted a bright yellow.  Because it is so narrow, traffic can only move one way at a time across the span.  So hold your breath and grip tight, this is one bumpy and thrilling ride on two wheels.

So whether you ride the Ozarks in late summer, late fall or anytime in between, you will be glad you did.  “No matter how many other motorcycle routes you’ve been on,” concluded our Texas biker, “once you’ve conquered the Pig Trail and its web of side-roads, you’ll be happier than a hog in slop.”

Special packages just for bikers can be found at numerous web sites, such as EurekaSpringsMotorcycleRoutes.com and Arkansas.com/deals-coupons.

Fall into the Ozarks

(EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS) — Thousands of bikers flock to Arkansas in the fall for color and colorful events.  Not only does Mother Nature put on a show but so do several Arkansas communities like Fayetteville with their “Bikes, Blues & BBQ”, Harrison’s “Rev. Troll’s Rock-N-Roll Revival” and Hot Springs’ “Hot Springs (HOG) Rally”.  One common element to all Arkansas rallies seems to be a side-trip to Eureka Springs.

“If we have seen one market for our community that is on a steady growth curve, it is motorcycles,” said Jack Moyer, past chairman of the Eureka Springs Tourism Coop.  “Bikers of today, love the Rallies but are also choosing fun destinations with breathtaking scenery, that offer them two or three or more days of great rides from one hub.  Rides which are not only scenic but a thrill to challenge.  Rides with evening rest stops that include a comfortable bed, a cool beverage, a great meal, and yes, even a relaxing spa appointment.”

Realizing that Eureka Springs has become one of those popular hubs, a motorcycle web site eurekaspringsmotorcycleroutes.com was created to be “Eureka Springs motorcycle authority”.  This site has established five rides meeting those aforementioned criteria that offer “867 thrilling miles” with “one great starting point”.  These routes are being debuted on their web site and in a colorful free brochure that can be found throughout Arkansas and adjacent areas.

Web site designer, Rachael Prevatte of Historica, Inc., stated that, “Our routes give bikers an array of challenging Ozark highways with a variety of sights and stops along each route that make putting the kickstand down a treat in itself.”

The carefully chosen routes allow for day-long, partial-day and quick rides.  Length of rides vary from one that is 280 miles or six hours plus to a “sunset ride” that is only 26 miles and can be accomplished in 44 minutes.  Suggested scenic sights and fun stops include Lost Valley, a grazing area for herds of elk; Mystic Caverns; Withrow Springs State Park; Arkansas’ “Grand Canyon”; the “Little Golden Gate” Beaver Bridge; Beaver Dam; three rivers including the Buffalo, Kings and White; Beaver Lake; Roaring River State Park; and Dogwood Canyon.  The last two located just over the state line in Missouri.

“But our research showed us that as important as the routes are, where the bikers overnight is equally as important,” added Prevatte.  “That is why we have partnered with the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel.  Both have great places to eat, sip an adult beverage, get a massage after a hard day’s ride, and slip into a soft bed for a satisfying night’s sleep.”

The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa is a 76-room property that is a proud member of “Historic Hotels of America”.  At the very top of the hotel is Dr. Baker’s Bistro and Sky Bar (the highest point in the county) that offers bistro-style food served up until 11:00 p.m.  The Sky Bar not only offers outside seating with a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding Ozarks dotted by the Christ of the Ozarks but nightly “High Times” at the Sky Bar from 9 – 11PM,  offering of live music, supple snacks and late night food and beverage.  In the Garden Level of the five-story limestone structure is the New Moon Spa and Salon.

“For those wanting to add a unique lifetime memory might consider taking the hotel’s nightly ghost tour,” suggested Prevatte.  “It gives tour attendees an inside-look at what is called ‘America’s most haunted hotel’.”

The downtown “sister” of the Crescent is the 1905 Basin Park Hotel, known as “The Most Fun”, the historic hotel is 61-room, seven story structure which is located in the center of historic Eureka Springs downtown entertainment district.  It offers a place which serves “the best burger in Eureka Springs” with a bird’s eye view of downtown.  The Balcony’s new Copper Biker Bar gives an elbow-to-elbow way to sip a beverage while overlooking all the activity of adjacent Basin Spring Park.  The hotel’s Serenity Spa takes offers a complete menu of spa services including a visit to their Mountainside Sun Deck with hot tub and sauna.  Their Lucky 7 Rooftop Billiards Bar is home to the finest pool tables in Eureka Springs.

“While many trips may be planned around rally dates, no ride in Arkansas is complete without a journey up the Pig Trail and a rest stop in Eureka Springs,” concluded Moyer.  “Eureka is called the ‘extraordinary escape’ for a reason, it is a chance for guests to make this town that time forgot their own and remember it for a lifetime.”

To see the five routes and special overnight biker lodging packages on-line, one should go to eurekaspringsmotorcycleroutes.com .