During our trip through Arkansas my sister-in-law recommended that we take the scenic route 71 from Fayetteville to just north of Fort Smith. There is an interstate 49 that could get us there quickly but we like the scenic views to bring to you. Above is looking out towards White Rock Mountain in the Ozark National Forest. Much of route 71 is bordered by the Ozark National Forest to the east.
One of the first towns that we passed by was Winslow. There was not too much to see here along the highway because the town is entirely west of the highway as the national forest runs along the east side.
From Winslow the road climbs upward to a place where Grandmas House Café is located. You start to get a sense of the views from here looking east. There were just wonderful.
As we reached the peak of this drive, we came across Mt Gayler lookout tower. It was obviously not in use and may be obsolete. The tower and the surrounding buildings make for a great photo opportunity.
Behind the tower we found a beautiful private pond.
The next place we came across was Artist Point. Not sure what the story is here but I know that there is one. There is a small gift store and tiny museum in the back of the building. I read that there are some hiking trails from here as well. The national forest still runs along the eastern border of the highway.
There is a turnout a bit down the road that you can stop and take some pictures of Lake Fort Smith. Unfortunately the lake is surrounded by fencing that is not too picturesque.
One of our favorite places as we continued our southern travels was Mountainburg. This was a nice little town with a cute city park. What kid (or adult) would not want to play on the dinosaurs or fire engine? This town was a little different than the others because the highway ran out of the Ozark National Forest so both sides of the road were town property.
Yup, a bear carving in a fire engine in the park. A kids dream.
If you get the luxury of nice weather and a bit of extra time, this is a great drive. It is full of what America used to be before the interstate freeways took over. Of course, the freeways will get you there quicker but it’s not nearly as scenic.
There isn’t much out there about this specific highway but here is something: