Arkansas: An Unexpected Adventure

Have you ever imagined yourself on vacation in Arkansas? I know I certainly never had. Then we traveled through the state in our RV, and I realized what a great place it is. Especially for families.

Map Of Arkansas

 

 

Bentonville

Lake Fort Smith

Liittle Rock

Hot Springs

Crater of Diamonds

Great Campgrounds in Arkansas

What to Expect in Arkansas

Picture yourself in Arkansas. Now what do you see? Hear? Smell? Anything? Anyone?

OK, so maybe some people have an idea of what Arkansas is like. For Example, the people from Arkansas or maybe even those from neighboring states. But let’s be honest, most people don’t really think much about Arkansas.

However, you should because it is such a beautiful place. I was amazed by the incredible landscape here. Every place on Earth has a beauty to it, in Arkansas it included things like:

  • Trees
  • Parks
  • Rivers
  • Hills
  • Mountains
  • Lakes

Even though I had no idea what to expect when we got to Arkansas, this was not it. You might be thinking, so what everywhere has trees, and you are right, but the scenery here is just magnificent. Follow our adventure to find out where we stayed, what we did, and where we ate in Arkansas.

Traveling: The Unexpected Outcome

Do you want to know the best thing about traveling? Well the part where we get to see tons of amazing places is, well, amazing, but surprisingly not the best part. And the other thing, where we get to spend so much time together as a family, while it is great, is still not the best part.

So what is the best part you want to know? Here’s the thing, it’s the people. We get to meet so many really wonderful and interesting people on our adventure. We have made some great new friends and the people we met in Arkansas are some of the best.

A New Friendship Is Made

Leaving friends behind is one of the difficult parts about traveling full-time. When you are constantly moving it can be hard to establish new friendships. Luckily there are really great people out there just waiting to meet you. We have made many friends while traveling, in Arkansas we even unexpectedly traveled together with some.

While staying at the Treasure Isle RV Park in Hot Springs Arkansas, our kids made a new friend at the playground. They would play together everyday after we returned from exploring the area. She was a wonderful girl and I was glad they were getting along so well.

Usually when my children make a new friend I try to meet their parents. One day while playing I went out to check on them, but did not see her parents. Later, when the kids came in for dinner, my son informed me I had just missed meeting their friends mother. He also informed me that he thought I would like her, but sadly, our paths did not cross.

The morning of our departure the kids wanted to exchange addresses and phone numbers, but still the parents did not meet. So the kids said their goodbyes and we waved to the parents as we all drove away. This would probably be the only time we would ever see them.

Moving On to Our Next Adventure

Our next destination was Little Rock, the capitol city. It was a mere hour drive from where we were so there wasn’t a chance that these people would be headed there. Most people travel more than an hour at a time, right?

I bet you’ll never guess who pulled in right behind us when we arrived at the Downtown Riverside RV Park in North Little Rock. Yes, you got it. It was the same little girl and her parents that the kids had been playing with at the previous camp site. Crazy coincidence!

It was meant to be, we had to talk to them now. Turns out they are very similar to us and we hit it off right away. Both of our families are full-time travelers, so it was great getting to explore Little Rock together, something we don’t usually get to do. So don’t worry, it is possible to make new friends on the road.

The Arkansas Capitol Tour

You probably already know that the Capital of Arkansas is Little Rock. And you probably also know that touring the capitol building is free, but did you know that it’s also a great way to learn about a state and the people that live there?

They usually conduct guided tours that are pretty interesting and can provide information not available on a self guided tour. Let me share a little secret though, if there are school groups on one of these tours, you’re better off going with the self guided option.

That’s what happened to us in the Arkansas capitol, a school group. So we opted to go it on our own. Our newly acquired friends were with us and we started exploring the building. The capitol’s are beautiful buildings with lots to look at.

Typically most rooms are open to the public unless they are private offices or being renovated. This happens more than you would think. However, here we found that the Senate Chamber was locked, both the floor and the gallery, which is unusual.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask

I just happened to catch someone walking out of an office after we had tried the door and inquired why it was locked. He asked the man sitting in the office who then came out to meet us. It turns out he was Senator John Cooper of District #21.

He was the nicest man and he proceeded to give us a personal tour of the Senate Chamber. We were given access to the VIP section of the gallery, where we got some great photos. Then he took us down to the floor and took time to answer all of our questions. It was an unforgettable tour. We even got our picture taken with him!

We even got to meet a Senator when we visited

Towing, Tornadoes and Ticks

We all know that nature is both beautiful and dangerous. Watching a firefly dance through the air is a marvel we can only wonder at. But when that firefly flies into our hair, we have no problem swatting at it with all we’ve got. Arkansas is a beautiful state, but not without it’s share of difficulties for our traveling family.

In Arkansas we encountered nature in ways both good and bad. Some of the things we experienced here that weren’t so good include:

  • Ticks
  • Tornadoes
  • Steep towing grades

Surviving Tornadoes

While staying at their very nice City Park in Nashville Arkansas we experienced something not so nice. We were on the verge of being in a tornado. The wind was blowing, the siren was going off, and the rain was coming down. On the emergency radio station we listened closely to find out if we were in danger.

Somehow, we got lucky, the tornadoes set down about 20 minutes in either direction of us. We were safe. This was our first time camping that close to a tornado. Being that we live in our travel trailer it was a little scary let me tell you. But we came through it just fine and are here to tell the story. We even managed to go diamond mining after the weather improved.

a small boy looking for surface diamonds

Can You Make the Grade?

Mountains are majestic. They make a landscape seem so varied. The Ozark Mountains in Arkansas are a sight worth seeing. It is not a mountain range like the Sierra Nevada where we grew up, but beautiful just the same.

Because the roads in the south and the east are older, they are not made the same as the roads in the west. If you have an RV and are planning to visit Arkansas, be ready for some steep grades. These roads were not really made for RV’s or trucks.

Keep in mind it is not impossible or even a reason not to go. It is just one traveler sharing lessons with another traveler. You will see the signs warning that the road is steep, but they do not put the percentage of the grade on those signs.

We decided to stay in Lake Fort Smith State Park, which is a wonderful campground. However, the road to get in and out of this state park is very steep. The day we drove in was also very hot. Our brakes were struggling to stop us by the time we got in. So take it easy when you’re towing the grades.

Man in front of travel trailer smiling at nice campsite
We made it and the camp was worth the tow in.

The Bug Factor

You know that bugs are good for the planet and necessary for the Eco-system, right? But don’t they just really bug you (pun intended)? There are definitely some species in this bug category I like less than others. This includes ticks because they are not only dangerous, but a nuisance.

While in Arkansas we encountered some of these pesky critters. They, unfortunately, seem to like my youngest son quite a bit. Several times after he came in from playing outside I had to remove ticks from his body. While this wasn’t ideal it was still a great visit to Arkansas.

Unexpected Free Stuff To Do

 

Want to know what else was cool about Arkansas, other than meeting so many awesome people? Alright, so the heading probably gave it away, but yes, free stuff to do. I love finding free stuff to do. Especially when it’s fun and educational too.

Little Rock was a wealth of free activities. It was great that so many of them were geared towards families. The fact that you can walk to so many of them from the Downtown Riverside RV Park was an added bonus. Not to mention the pedestrian bridge that lights up is very cool.

Another city you should check out if, like me, you like free stuff to do, is Bentonville. This small Arkansas town also has several free attractions available. An added bonus here is that it is such a beautiful city. We enjoyed exploring around here and would definitely return if passing through.

Visit Arkansas For Your Next Unexpected Adventure

If you are looking for your next adventure, try Arkansas. It has so much to offer for families, couples or even the solo adventurer. It is a beautiful state with some unexpected features you won’t want to miss.

There are some great restaurants like Papa Poblanos Mexican Cafe in Nashville or Let’s Eat in Alma. Some wonderful campgrounds for RV’s. Hiking trails and nature centers for the outdoor lover. Awesome state and national park sites for the history enthusiast. Something for everyone can be found in Arkansas.

We loved the people here too. They are so nice and welcoming. Everyone we passed seemed to wave or say hello. This was especially refreshing in the big city of Little Rock because most of the time, the bigger the city, the less friendly the people seem.

Thanks for reading about our unexpected Arkansas adventure. I hope you get a chance to visit someday because it is a fun place with lots to see and do. Check out some of our other articles for more details about each place we explored.

 

 

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