Touring the Byway
26.5 Miles | 4 Days / 3 Nights | Gateway City: Little Rock, Arkansas
We recommend beginning your journey in Little Rock, where you can explore the Old South gracefully blended with a contemporary vision. The River Market District is bustling, and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, nearby. The Old State House Museum is located in the old Arkansas State House constructed in 1833. Nine square miles of beautifully restored Antebellum and Victorian homes make up the Quapaw Quarter, where accommodations in the incredibly detailed ornate Victorian Empress of Little Rock, places you right there.
From Little Rock, it’s short drive to Mountain View, the town that grew up around the original Sylamore settlement. The main attraction here is the Ozark Folk Center State Park, worthy of spending plenty of time exploring. The weekly syndicated program recorded at the Park features mountain music and more than 20 working artisans demonstrate, create, and sell handmade items. There are weekly live concerts every Thursday through Saturday in season. An overnight stay at the Wildflower Bed and Breakfast places you right off the town square.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
Nestled in the 1.2 million acres of Ozark National Forest, you’ll find Mount Magazine, the tallest mountain in Arkansas and an incredible, living underground cave called Blanchard Springs. Referred to as a “living cave” always changing and growing, there are three tours led by knowledgeable Forest Service guides: The Dripstone Trail is shorter and easier, taking you half a mile through the Caverns, with no stairs so it is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. At 1.2 miles long, the Discovery Trail is longer and more strenuous, encompassing nearly 700 stair steps to explore the middle level of the Cavern system. The newest trail, the Wild Cave Tour, takes you into the undeveloped sections of cave to experience off-trail caving in a structured environment. The Cavern stays at a very pleasant and comfortable 58 degrees year round.
Even though Bull Shoals Caverns is one of the oldest limestone caverns in the Ozark Mountains, it is still alive and growing. Formed 350 million years ago, the caverns have almost every formation known to be found in caves including stalactites, stalagmites, drapolites, box work, columns, cave pearls, flow stone, and waterfalls. It is also home to salamanders, pipistrelle bats, frogs, and camel crickets. The Mountain Village next door is a re-creation of a typical Ozark settlement built by hardy pioneers coming from the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee.
There is a multitude of information about President Clinton in this very dramatic building with 20,000-square-feet of exhibits, featuring everything from presidential campaigns to Clinton’s early life, life in the White House, a replica of the White House Cabinet Room and the Oval Office, and a whole library of presidential documents. A historical timeline covers Clinton’s entire life, from being raised by a single mother and grandmother to the highest office in the land. The 42 Bar and Table is the onsite restaurant.
“Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts,” said protestors in 1957, when the Little Rock Central High School became the first test in the United States to ensure African Americans an equal education under Brown v. Board of Education. When President Eisenhower was compelled by white violence to use federal troops to ensure the right to education, he became the first president since the post-Civil War Reconstruction period to use federal troops in support of African American civil rights. Explore the stories, people and places of this famous sacrifice and struggle over a half century ago that opened the doors to those seeking equality and education around the world.
Open from mid-April to mid-November, the Folk Center is dedicated to preserving the music, arts, crafts and culture of the Ozarks. Stroll in the Craft Village, while listening to live mountain music, where 20 working artisans demonstrate and sell their craft. The handiwork includes flame painted cooper jewelry, leather goods, baskets, brooms, stained glass, ironwork, pottery, knives, weaving, quilts, carving, yarn, candles, and more. The Heritage Garden is home to traditional plants, medicinal herbs, native plants, and edible herbs. Music is performed in the 1,000-seat theater by legendary artists from all facets of American music. You’ll hear fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, dulcimer, and autoharp all combined into the unique mountain sound. A weekly program recorded on the Ozark Highlands Radio is syndicated by radio stations and ITunes. Combination passes are available for the Craft Village and music shows. Artisans also hold workshops throughout the year and the Garden functions as a living classroom for culinary and medicinal herb events all year long.