Touring the Byway
26.5 Miles | 4 Days/3 Nights | Gateway City: Little Rock, Arkansas
We recommend you begin your journey in Little Rock, where you can explore the Old South gracefully blended with a contemporary vision. From there, it’s short drive to Mountain View, the town that grew up around the original Sylamore settlement.
The Sylamore Scenic Byway begins at the National Forest Service Blanchard Springs Caverns Visitor Center and ends with a short drive to Mountain Home. Winding through a beautifully scenic portion of the Ozark National Forest you’ll end up at Calico Rock when you finish driving Byway.
The scenery along the highway often hugs the side of the wide flowing White River below limestone cliffs or winds through lush forest lands. A charming landscape of rugged limestone bluffs and cedar glade outcrops offer glimpses of rushing water and calm ponds as it follows streams along the route. National Forest pasture land, and wildlife fields are scatted along the Byway.
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, three tours led by knowledgeable Forest Service guides are available: 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 of 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, the heart of the Folk Center, 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.