The Best Places in Arkansas for Fall Colors and Foliage

Arkansas has some of the best fall foliage because we have so much natural forest.  Driving anywhere, even in Central Arkansas, during the fall brings a wide variety of colors.  However, most of our natural forests offer endless trees as far as you can see.  Here are some of the best places to visit when you want to specifically look for fall colors.

Check out the foliage season guide to find out what parts of the state are best to visit when.  Typically, the leaves start changing colors in October in northern Arkansas and continue to change through mid-November.

Arkansas Scenic Byway 7

Scenic Byway 7 goes through four of the state's geographic regions.  It hits the Western Gulf Coastal Plane, the Ouachita Mountains, the Ozark Mountains and the Ozark National Forest.  It contains 290 miles of road.  There are several can't miss spots if you're looking for fall color.

The section of the road that goes through the Ozark Mountains and heads into Jasper on its way to Harrison are can't miss places for fall color.  In this region, you have the Buffalo National River and the Grand Canyon of the Ozarks.  This section offers beautiful drives and plenty of opportunities to get out of your car and walk around in the forest, if you prefer.

Closer to Little Rock on 7, you'll hit Hot Springs. The byway goes through the historic downtown area before hitting the Ouachita National forest.  This is also a great place to see fall colors

The Talimena National Scenic Byway

The Talimena National Scenic Byway (state route 88) is a shorter drive (54 miles) that begins in Mena and goes through some beautiful country for fall color.  Queen Wilhelmina State Park sits at the top of Rich Mountain and is also known as the castle in the clouds.  The lodge is so high up, you are often driving through clouds.  It's a great place for scenic vistas and fall color. There is a visitor's center, camping and hiking trails associated with the park.  This region has many turnouts and interpretive signs about Arkansas history.  It goes all the way to Oklahoma, but you can turn around at Queen Wilhelmina State Park and still get some great foliage views.

Petit Jean and Mount Magazine

Speaking of state parks, if you are looking to drive and hike, Petit Jean is a great state park for fall color.  Mount Magazine is close enough that you should add it to your trip so you can see some of the stunning vistas from the highest peak in Arkansas.  Both of the mountains have some great hikes, but also some nice views from the road and turnouts. You don't have to hike if you don't want to.

Blanchard Springs

When you mention Blanchard Springs, most people think of the caverns.  The caverns are great, but the caverns are located in the Ozark National Forest and it's gorgeous in the fall.  The springs themselves and mirror lake make for a nice backdrop for the colors.  Mountain View is a great town to visit in the fall.

Boston Mountains Scenic Loop/U.S. 71 and I-540

This 42-mile loop follows a former stagecoach route through the Boston mountain range and offers some great scenic vistas where you can pull off and view the scenery. The loop goes through Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Devil's Den State Park.  You'll also drive through Arkansas wine country.

The Great River Road / The St. Francis Scenic Byway

The St. Francis Scenic Byway is located between the cities of Mariana and Helena/West Helena.  This scenic byway travels along the crest of Crowley’s Ridge for over 21 miles and is designated as the Great River Road. Approximately 14 miles of this road are gravel, so beware of that.  They aren't particularly hard to drive on, but they are slow.  If you can stand that, the two lakes and plentiful forest make for some great views.  This is one of the better places to go later in the foliage season.

The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad

If you want the scenic without the drive, get a ticket on the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad.  Passenger trains depart from the Van Buren and Springdale stations during the fall season.  They have all day trips and shorter trips. It's a nice way to see the colors without the drive and riding on the train is a unique family experience.

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