Best time to travel to Arkansas

Arkansas Fall Foliage

Marvel in Arkansas' patchwork of fall colors from the Ozark Mountains to the Mississippi River

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen
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Arkansas is famous for its abundant forests and vast wilderness areas. Due to a wide variety of trees, the state looks especially beautiful during the changing seasons. Oak and hickory provide lots of yellow tones, and maples create red and orange accents. The Ozark Mountains in the north get the first yellow and golden tones in October. The central part of the state, namely the Arkansas River Valley and Ouachita State Park, start to turn a week or so later, reaching full transformation in early November. The southern part of the state usually dresses up in gold by mid-November.

The Ozarks Region

Fall colors along the White River outside Eureka Springs, Arkansas 2020
Fall colors along the White River outside Eureka Springs, Arkansas

The most popular hiking destination in the state—the Ozark Mountains— looks astonishing in fall. With several national forests consisting of oaks, black gum trees, hickories, and maples, the region stuns with colorful panoramas. Colors become the most vivid in the last two weeks of October. If you want to enjoy the colors from a car window, go on the scenic Boston Mountains Loop that runs on Highway 71 and Interstate 49 from Fayetteville to Devil's Den State Park. Being one of the top fall destinations in the state, Devil's Den State Park is located in the southwestern part of the Ozarks. The park boasts fossils of coral and crinoids along Lee Creek. The Upper Buffalo Wilderness is another great fall destination in the region. Hike the easy 3-mi (5-km) Whitaker Point Trail overlooking Whitaker Creek. Finally, you can explore the foothills of the Ozark Mountains at Lake Charles State Park.

Country Roads in Stone County, Arkansas 2020
Country Roads in Stone County, Arkansas

The Ouachita Region

Talimena Scenic Drive across Ouachita National Forest  2020
Talimena Scenic Drive across Ouachita National Forest

The Ouachita Mountains lie in the central part of Arkansas. The highest and the most prominent peak is Mount Magazine. The mountain is the highest peak of Arkansas and boasts two summits: Signal Hill, 2,753 feet (840 m), and Mossback Ridge, 2,700 ft (823.0 m). Signal Hill hike is especially popular during fall for its stunning 360-degree vistas. The Ouachita National Forest is another wonderful place to observe the changing colors of oak and maple trees. Pinnacle Mountain State Park is also a good spot for a fall hike. If you prefer to go for a ride, drive on Scenic Byway 7, one of the most beautiful roads in the United States, which traverses Ouachita National Forest.

Arkansas Delta

The historical Arkansas Delta Region boasts a unique landscape that consists of swamps, forests, and scenic lakes. Delta Heritage Trail State Park suits perfectly for a fall bike ride. Take a 12-mi ride (19-km) from Barton to Lake View, then go by kayak to Old Town Lake, and return by bike to Barton. Other scenic locations for fall photography are Lake Chicot State Park, Raymond Lake in Moro Bay State Park.

Where to stay

Major Arkansas parks such as Ozark National Forest and Ouachita National Forest have numerous campgrounds and lodging. If you stay at Mount Magazine Lodge, DeGray Lake Lodge, or Mather Lodge at Petit Jean Park, you'll be surrounded by nature, serenity, and stunning beauty throughout your whole stay. The map below depicts the aforementioned fall foliage viewing spots so you can find the optimal accommodation close to your place of choice.