Best Things to Do in the Ozarks

Published On July 21, 2021

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The plateaus of the Ozarks are a wonderful area of northeastern Oklahoma, northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, leaving much for the outdoor enthusiast to explore. A heavily eroded dome of sedimentary rock forms a broad highlands province with the Ouachita Mountains as a backdrop. Gorge-cut hills punctuated by shortleaf pines, oaks and hickories, and waterfalls combine to offer some of the finest outdoor scenery and activities in the country.

Mountains

The mind-blowing beauty of the Ozarks awaits to light up the imaginations of young and old. Waterfalls, rocky caves and caverns, hiking galore, streams that are an angler’s dream – it’s all here. In addition, the Ozark’s beautiful parks and nature preserves are vital to the preservation of the area.

The mountains are actually comprised of three distinct plateaus: the Springfield, Boston, and Salem Plateaus. Dotted all along are hardwood forests with sandstone floors and shale in some areas, and limestone and chert in others. With plenty of wild country to explore, the Ozark National Forest spans some 1.2 million acres. The highlight for many however, is the charming mountain towns, where visitors will find impromptu folk music gatherings in local squares, antique shops, and tiny eateries.

Wilderness

The prairies and parks together make up the largest protected wilderness in the eastern United States, and the views will take your breath away. It is a haven for wildlife with scenic hiking trails peppered with waterfalls.

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks is situated on 86 picturesque acres of land northeast of Fayetteville. There are nine themed gardens – each highlighting local artists and sculptors. Enjoy a four-seasons, shade, herb and vegetable, Japanese, rock and water, Ozark native, rose and perennial, sensory, and children’s garden.

Outdoor Recreation

Ozark Mountain Ziplines offers fun for those who like adrenaline-pumping activities. Soar up to 200 feet above the forest floor in a lush hardwood forest. Knowledgeable guides ensure your safety while educating visitors about the diverse animal and plant life of the Ozarks. This is great family fun for those as young as 3 years of age.

Beaver Lake is a glittering diamond in northwest Arkansas. The lake’s 28,000 acres of crystal waters attract water sports enthusiasts, anglers, and birdwatchers. Trout fishing is popular in White River below Beaver Dam. Surrounding the lake are dense forests, tall bluffs and meadows, with an intricate system of hiking trails running throughout. A plethora of marinas, outfitters, restaurants, and retail shops service the entire area for those that need to escape the beauty of nature for a short while.

Wildlife

Nothing can match the diversity of wildlife – home to many species of reptiles, birds, fish, insects and mammals. Black bears are prevalent here, but can be elusive. Once near extinction, they were reintroduced to this area in the mid-20th century and are now managed. You are not guaranteed a black bear sighting, but if on a hike you are quiet and careful, you just might! If you do, be safe and smart; keep your distance and never feed a bear.      

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a 459-acre big cat refuge and home to an amazing variety of rescued lions, tigers, and cougars. Visitors can take a guided tour of the natural habitats to learn how these gorgeous creatures are being nursed back to health.