The Scenic Route: 17 Arkansas Joyrides for Bikers, Day-Trippers and Road Warriors
Arkansas offers everything from Interstate 40, one of the busiest transit routes in the country to secluded roads, sometimes hidden by the beauty of the Natural State. The state is also one of the best for bikers and is featured in noted travel writer Gary McKechnie’s book, Great American Motorcycle Tours. Check out the routes below and pick your path.
• The Mount Magazine Scenic Byway takes you across the state’s highest peak at 2,753 feet.
• Scenic Byway 7 takes travelers from the Louisiana state line through the piney woods of south Arkansas, the eastern Ouachita Mountains, across the Arkansas River Valley and through the Ozark Mountains to Bull Shoals Lake on the Missouri border.
• State Highways 27, 23, 21 and 5 are also popular north-to-south sightseeing venues in the Ozarks
• Popular east-to-west routes crossing the Ozarks include State Highway 14, which begins near the banks of the Mississippi River and ends west of Omaha on the shoreline of Table Rock Lake, and State Highway 16 from Searcy to Siloam Springs. Heading east out of Fayetteville, before turning south, State Highways 16 and 23 combine to form the winding Pig Trail Scenic Byway. And U.S. Highway 71 and Interstate 540 form the Boston Mountain Scenic Loop.
• Interstate 530 runs south between Little Rock and Pine Bluff and offers brilliant colors in the spring and fall.
• Arkansas Heritage Trails offer bikers and history buffs a chance to ride the Civil War Trail across the state, stopping to visit famous battle sites like Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove along the way.
Other Heritage Trails include rides following the scars of the Trail of Tears and the Butterfield Overland Tail, which follows the route of John Butterfield, a former stagecoach driver from New York who established the Butterfield Overland Mail Route in 1858 with the goal of connecting the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.
• Crowley’s Ridge Parkway – a National Scenic Byway – runs from the northeast corner of the state at St. Francis to the southernmost point at Helena-West Helena.
• Talimena National Scenic Byway balances on the ridge of the state’s second-highest peak. The Talimena is the third and newest National Scenic Byway in Arkansas. It winds for 54 miles along the crest of Rich Mountain and Winding Stair Mountain in the Ouachita National Forest between Mena and Talihina, Okla.
• Named a “Southern Travel Treasure” by AAA’s Southern Traveler magazine, the 363-mile Great River Road is a National Scenic Byway that runs parallel to the Mississippi River in eastern Arkansas. The road begins in Blytheville and winds down through Osceola, West Memphis, Helena-West Helena, DeWitt, Dumas, Lake Village and Eudora before ending at the Louisiana state line at the very southeast corner of the state.