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Old 05-22-2020, 01:43 PM   #1
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Itinerary help--Arkansas

I am overwhelmed. We cancelled our trip to Glacier for next week and are trying to plan a new trip to Arkansas for next week. We have 7 days total including travel to Indiana and back. There will be 7 of us, with kids from 22 to 6 and we like to hike, ride horses, canoe and take pictures and look at cool things.
I am not sure which places will give us the most bang for our buck and a variety of landscapes. I was thinking Hot Springs should be our first stop. How many days do we need there? Other places that look great are DeGray Lake SP, Crater Diamond, Queen Wilhelmina SP, Ouachita National Forest, Petit Jean SP, Mountain View, Blanchard Springs Cavern, Buffalo National River, Eureka Springs, and Pea Ridge National Military Park. We obviously can't see all these things. What is a good itinerary for us?
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Old 05-22-2020, 01:57 PM   #2
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So.... 7 total days including driving back & forth so basically 5 days to work with. I'd recommend picking one place and stay there. You really don't have time to move around.

You're talking about next week. Better get on the phone NOW. Good luck!
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:12 PM   #3
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We've explored around Arkansas many times. Crater of Diamonds is interesting, and fun, except in 100+ degree temps in August. Blanchard Springs Caverns is a place that we've been a few times, and enjoyed the tour each time. Greers-Ferry, Greeson, DeGray & other lakes in Arkansas. We believe that we've seen the headless brakeman in Crossett, but didn't hang around long enough to make sure that's what it was. When we go to Arkansas now, we stay at Catherine's Landing near Hot Springs. We cover more on that area HERE. We do enjoy the offerings for guests (rv, hurts, cabins, tents, zipline, pool, boat & golf cart rentals etc). Another place, not far from Hot Springs, is Broken Bow (Oklahoma) Lake. Nice state park, including water with rapids for the daring who like to kayak. We do the canoe thing. Everything in Arkansas is open, from what I can tell. It doesn't seem any different than it did before these crazy pandemic times began.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:05 PM   #4
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I have been to many of the spots you listed, and each is appealing in its own certain way. My comments are going to talk about how they are in normal times, I have no idea how they are with the current Covid-19 social distancing, etc. You also don't say what your interests are, you mention a variety of types of locations, so here goes.

Hot Springs was a popular tourist destination in the first half of the 20th century, particularly popular due to its casinos as well as hot springs bath houses. It was a known neutral ground for many notorious mobsters, where they would bring their families on vacation. Hot Springs went into a multi decade decline after the casinos were shut down I think in the 1960's, but has been making a bit of a come back in the last 10-15 years. It has some interesting tourist town mini-museum attractions including a wax museum (which seems kind of dated, and seems to have a lot of hand me down wax figures likely from sister wax museums). There is also a magic museum that has odd and sometimes grotesque items (shrunken heads, mummified hands, etc.), as well as a mob museum that tells some of the mob related history of the city. In addition to this there is bathhouse row, where the national park bathhouses are divided from the tourist shops (the national park border runs down the middle of the main street), a couple of the bath houses remain functional, others have been converted into tourist center, museum and the national park headquarters. Lake Hamilton is located just about 10 miles south of Hotsprings, and Lake DeGray is just a short half hour drive south of that on Hwy 7. In normal times wondering around hot springs, doing the tourist stuff, is good for a couple of days activity, but finding stuff to do other than being on the lake after that is a bit hard to do.

Comments on some of the other places you mentioned:

DeGray Lake SP (been there, but it has been probably 30 years so I will leave this to others)

Crater Diamond (Driven through, rained out every time I have tried to go to chance my luck at digging diamonds, which is what this place is all about)

Queen Wilhelmina SP, been there multiple times over the years, spent a couple of nights there in August 3 years ago, one of the coolest / highest elevation points in Arkansas, not much else to the state park itself, there are a couple of short nature trails and a view overlooking the valley, the highway passing by is a poplar motorcycle riding route, so campground can be noisy as it parallel the main road.

Ouachita National Forest, has its nice spots

Petit Jean SP Again been there but has been many years

Mountain View been there, but again it has been many years

Blanchard Springs Cavern Again, been there but has been years, there are a number of interesting caves in Arkansas, this is one of many (Cosmic Caverns, Mystic Caverns, etc.).

Buffalo National River nice scenic river, have not spent enough time here to say much more

Eureka Springs Spend 3 or 4 days there a couple of years ago, another tourist town, makes me wonder if they have more small cottages, motels, etc. than they have permanent population, there is limited parking downtown, and the downtown area is only suitable for small cars, there thoughis a cheap tourist trolley system that services most/all of the RV parks. We stayed at a small RV park by the name of Green Tree Lodge and love shacks (had new owners when we were there 2 years ago and they were actively updating the place, building a new clubhouse, etc.). If touristy shops, tram tours, and the like are your thing this is the place for it, though the downtown streets are very steep so you need to be in shape just to walk a block here.

Pea Ridge National Military Park Don't know it.

Given your general time frame I would suggest confining yourself to perhaps up and down scenic highway 7, maybe over to Eureka Springs, when we were last there they were in the process of replacing the last of the old narrow bridges on the section north of Hot Springs, and installing passing lanes every few miles, making hwy 7 more RV friendly than it has historically been.

If you tell us what sort of activities you like and what sort of RV you have, we might be able to help more.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:18 PM   #5
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Hot Springs, AR is a dud unless you want to rent a hotel room for a hot tub soaking (which can be done anywhere in the US) or like to tour old hospital rooms. Don't expect the woods to be full of remote hot springs to soak in. Otherwise Hot Springs is just like any other med size town to visit.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:21 PM   #6
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The White River is nice and scenic White River Campground in Flippin is great with good hook ups etc. from there you can drive an hr or so and float the Buffalo river
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:37 PM   #7
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Last I heard was that campgrounds were open for residents only, I would check.
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:12 PM   #8
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We've had a tremendous amount of rain this spring and record amounts for May already.

Because of that several CG's have flooded and are closed and others have certain campsites closed but the CG itself is open, Just with reduced capacity.

All COE campgrounds are currently reservation only through the recreation.gov website. For privately owned CG's calling ahead is advised.

The Crater of Diamonds park and CG are open.

Most privately owned and Arkansas state are open although some are at reduced capacity also.

Here in North central Arkansas the extended forecast is for 9 days with rain to some extent.

The Norfork dam has 12 gates open today so areas downstream are going to get more water than they want too.
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