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.

Lean into Eureka Springs

EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS — San Francisco (CA) may have Lombard Street but it has been said by visitors who travel to Eureka Springs (AR) on motorcycles that the streets here are “Lombard Street” street after street after street.  These curvy streets inside this Arkansas village of 2,000 and the winding Ozark highways that lead into this community offer the appeal that make motorcyclists want to literally “lean into” Eureka Springs.

The spiderweb of highways that blanket this pristine part of the United States’ Midwest region seems to have been made specifically for motorcycle travel, especially with a destination like Eureka Springs, one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at its center.  Supporting this is a factoid mentioned in a recent article by Ron Keys in Motorcycle Mojo magazine, “Eureka Springs is our springboard for riding the curvy, exciting byways of the Ozarks.”

Motorcyclists, whether they are on two wheels or three, will use this Swiss-like village as their hub for discovering and riding such provocatively named routes as The Pig Trail, Ozark Highlands and the equally as challenging connecting routes to stretches of roads as Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway with its awesome panoramas.  Along these routes are such notable mini-destinations as Buffalo River National Park, Branson (MO) and Bentonville (AR) with its newly opened, world-renowned Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  All are within a day’s round-trip ride from Eureka Springs.

Jack Moyer, general manager of two of Eureka Springs’ historic hotels, the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa and the 1905 Basin Park Hotel, explains, “It seems as though the riders of today like to have a nice ‘home-away-from-home’ to enjoy each evening of their motorcycling vacation.  They seem to want lodging in a comfortable, full-service hotel from which they can travel out, like spokes on a wheel, each morning to see new places, experience new adventures and all the while enjoying the curves of The Ozark.  They enjoy returning each evening to a cold beverage, a nice restaurant, some evening attractions and a comfortable bed all in a destination community and all at an affordable price.”

“And those curves I mentioned are best described in that same recent Motorcycle Mojo article, ‘With more corners, closer together, than anywhere I’ve been, these are some of the greatest motorcycling roads on the continent.’  This is a pretty good endorsement and invitation to motorcycle enthusiasts to come and ‘lean into’ the extraordinary destination known as Eureka Springs, Arkansas,” added Moyer.

Eureka Springs has grown to embrace motorcycling visitors.  Restaurants themed for “bikers”, retail shops carrying a full line of motorcycling accoutrements, hotels and motels with special features just for motorcyclists, and so on are now common place.

“At the Crescent for example, we have formulated special parking areas exclusively for motorcycles,” said Moyer.  “To accommodate motorcycles and their owners even further, we have added to our websites pages speaking directly to the motorcycling travelers, designated a special on-property bike wash area including wipe-down towels, and have put in place increased security for our guests’ two-wheeled investments.  And these type of accommodations are being or have already been added at many of Eureka Springs’ other hotels and motels.”

For more information on what Eureka Springs has to offer motorcyclists, one should go to eurekaspringsmotorcycleroutes.com.  Lodging information and special motorcycle packages can be found at eurekaspringsonline.com .