From top to bottom, the Natural State certainly lives up to the hype. Not only is Arkansas teeming with parks of all shapes and sizes, but each manages to be completely unique from the next.
Between diamond mining and staggering forests, here are four parks that will help you appreciate the full beauty of the Natural State — anytime of the year.
Play “Finder’s Keepers”
Crater of Diamonds State Park may as well have invented the game simply because it’s the only place in the world where you can mine for real diamonds and keep what you find. Located in Murfreesboro, this state park is set in an ancient volcanic crater that is speckled with gorgeous gemstones. For a small fee, the park staff will set you up with the all the diamond-finding equipment you may need so you can get straight to business.
See the World from Stouts Point
As the state’s first state park, Petit Jean State Park is proof you never want to mess with the original. It is at the top of Stouts Point, one of the park’s most photographic spots, where you will learn about the park’s namesake mistress, Petit Jean. Legend has it that this rebellious French lady made her way across the Atlantic disguised as a man so she could be with her fiancé in the New World. Unfortunately she never made it, dying from an illness along the way (she’s buried in Arkansas), but we have a feeling her spirit lives on.
Find a City Escape
It seems unlikely for a gorgeous park to be found smack dab in the middle of a city like Little Rock, but Arkansas loves to surprise us. Bordering the Clinton Presidential Library downtown, visitors can spend hours crisscrossing the 13 acres of wetlands in the William E. Bill Clark Wetlands Presidential Park. Enjoy the walking paths and bridges as you keep a look out for the outdoor zoo, perfect for kids and modern-day explorers.
Experience Fall in the Ozarks
If you want to experience the best fall colors in the states, but can’t make a trip to New England, head to the Ozarks. A national forest split between the 1.2 million-acre Ozark National Forest and the 22,600-acre St. Francis National Forest, the area is a treasure trove of natural attractions. Stop at Mount Magazine (the state’s tallest mountain) and Blanchard Springs Cavern, which everyone should have on their bucket list.