Most people know Northwest Arkansas as the home of Walmart, which has its corporate headquarters in the town of Bentonville. The retail giant's presence in the area is impossible to ignore, as the Walton family's influence can be felt just about everywhere, including on Main Street where the the original Walton's store still stands as a nostalgic look at the company's history. But there is a lot more to the region than just being the home to the largest brick-and-mortar retail outlet in the world. In fact, adventurous travelers will find plenty to do in this corner of the the Natural State, which more than lives up to that nickname.
Here are our suggestions for six amazing things to do while in area.
Backpack Through the Ozarks
The Ozark Mountains make for a stunning backdrop all year long, giving backpackers and campers an opportunity find solace and tranquility in the backcountry. Ozark National Forest offers more than 1.2 million acres of rugged terrain to explore, with more than 420 miles of trails to wander. That includes the 230-mile long Ozark Highlands Trail, which extends through the forest. Hikers looking for a great challenge and an amazing way to see everything that Northwest Arkansas has to offer will enjoy tackling this great hike.
Canoe or Kayak in Buffalo National River
Those who prefer to spend time on the river in the seat of a canoe or kayak won't be disappointed in what Northwest Arkansas has to offer either. America's very first national river, the Buffalo, flows for 135 miles through the region, offering nice, quiet paddles, as well as some speedy rapids. The area has gorgeous scenery, too, with its towering limestone bluffs, thickly wooded forests, and remote sandy beaches. Sharp-eyed visitors might even spot deer or elk along the shores of the river.
Go Mountain Biking
Northwest Arkansas is a true hidden gem for mountain bikers, boasting some of the best trails in the U.S. while somehow managing to remain mostly off the radar. The International Mountain Biking Association has even designated five of the regional trails as Epic Rides, with Bentonville and Fayetteville both earning world-class ride center honors. And since the weather is generally mild all year round, there is never an off-season.
Rent a bike from Phat Tire Bike Shop and in Bentonville and pedal over to the nearby Crystal Bridges trails to start your adventure.
Tour Crystal Bridges Art Museum
When you're done hiking or mountain biking the Crystal Bridges trails, drop by the amazing Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The building was designed and built to integrate seamlessly with the natural environment that surrounds it, and it houses some of the most famous works of art by American artists. You'll find paintings, sculptures, and photos from the likes of Andy Warhol, Frank Lloyd Wright, James McNeill Whistler, amongst many others. The entire place was built as a celebration of the American arts—by the Walton family, no less—and it succeeds in that goal marvelously.
Hike to the Highest Point in Arkansas
Hikers can also head to Mount Magazine State Park to make their way to the highest point in the state, the summit of Signal Hill at 2,753 feet elevation. The trail to the top is only about 1.5 miles in length, and it's a moderate hike requiring about two hours to complete. The trek rewards hikers with excellent views of the surrounding area, as well as a 400 square-foot stone map of the state of Arkansas at the summit.
Go Fly Fishing
Northwest Arkansas offers some of the best fly fishing in the region, with the White River, Upper Little Red River, and the Spring River all offering excellent opportunities to catch trout. Bass anglers aren't left out of the action either, as there are a number of lakes in the area that are well stocked with large fish that can put up a serious fight. Lake Fayetteville, Lake Wilson, and Bella Vista Lake are all very accessible and offer plenty of action.