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Old 10-20-2015, 06:42 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, Isanti County, MN
2,682 posts, read 4,236,294 times
Reputation: 3352

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So my wife and I had our first overnight getaway (sans kids) in 4 years, and I chose Hot Springs as our destination. We moved to North Texas from the upper Midwest last March, and while the economy is certainly doing well there, the flat, scrubby landscape had really drained us to the point of getting excited over even seeing a tall pine tree.

Little over a 3 hour drive from our place to the Hot Springs exit. We came off of I-30 onto 7 north and over the Lake DeGray dam. Immediately upon seeing that area and the hills in the distance, we were enchanted. It was like a blood transfusion....I mean a total jolt for the eyes and the soul.

I had always been a bit skeptical of the whole "mountains in Arkansas" thing. I lived in north Georgia for 20 years and used to drive up through the Blue Ridge to the Smokies and over to Asheville, NC whenever I could. Gorgeous territory. I figured anything I saw in Arkansas would leave me underwhelmed in comparison. I also didn't see how anything that close to the Dallas/Ft. Worth vicinity could be that great.

My skepticism was instantly vanquished, though. That hwy. 7 drive into Hot Springs was just beautiful. We couldn't believe it! Like another world completely. Twisting, turning roads unveiling big, beautiful hills covered in trees.....many which had turned gold and orange from the autumn air. Country homes with adjacent meadows and mountain backdrops. Ahhhh.....Came into Lake Hamilton, and then Hot Springs. Man, by that time I was cursing myself for only giving us one night there, as I knew it wouldn't be enough.

Hot Springs itself was interesting. Coming in from the south on Central Ave. - New section/run down section/historic section. The run down section surprised me. I didn't expect to see anything like that. All those abandoned old hotels, too......what is up with that? The Howard Johnsons was a cool structure. The nice, white Baptist Church across from the horse track. Downtown and Bathhouse Row.....very quaint and soothing. We didn't do that section, though, as we made a beeline into the Ouachita's from there.

So we traveled on 7 up past HSV, through Mountain Valley (where I scored a Razorbacks shirt at the Wal-Mart - I collect college sports gear) and up to Jessieville, where we picnicked at one of a slew of tables next to a creek bed that was almost dry. The only real downer to this trip was seeing the effects of the drought that southern Arkansas is going though. Many creeks and streams were stagnant or dry, and the rivers and lakes were noticeably low. We then cut over to hwy. 27 on 314, and went down to 270, then back east into Hot Springs. The scenery was simply divine. It was the most relaxing, wonderful drive we had been on in our 5 years of marriage........and we've been to some really nice places in the past. What I loved about it was that it just seemed to be the perfect blend of everything, if that makes sense. The mountains weren't big enough to be intimidating or scary, nor were they small enough to leave one wanting. Just tall enough to captivate, and yet still sharing the horizon with a beautiful, blue sky. Taking in the homescapes was great, too. We so long to have a home in that type of setting........trees, meadows, mountain backdrop. Very, very, soothing......almost spiritual.

Once back in town we checked into the hotel and headed back down to Lake DeGray. Loved that little park by the dam. The sun on the water (what was left of it) was majestic. Made for a romantic setting at sunset. Then we took that great drive back up 7 into town. I could go back & forth on that stretch all day.

Had dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. Yummy. That looks like the newest section of HS, at least the parts we happened upon.....right there at 270 and Central. Went back to the hotel and crashed......or at least tried to. I was too jacked from the beauty of the area to sleep. Thought about it a good portion of the night.

Next morning we grabbed some Starbucks and did Hot Springs Mountain and West Mountain in the National Park. ...the views.....the greenery.....the rocks......the twists and turns. The Arkansas sunrise shining down on it all and revealing the town of Hot Springs below. We absorbed as much of it as we could......but alas, time always wins out in the end. We had to go home and relieve Grandma of kid duty.

Thank you, Hot Springs and Ouachita Mountains, for renewing us in a way that only you could. I think it goes without saying that we'll be back. Now I know why everyone from Texas goes to Hot Springs.
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:06 AM
 
7,685 posts, read 3,408,012 times
Reputation: 1726
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyryztoll View Post
So my wife and I had our first overnight getaway (sans kids) in 4 years, and I chose Hot Springs as our destination. We moved to North Texas from the upper Midwest last March, and while the economy is certainly doing well there, the flat, scrubby landscape had really drained us to the point of getting excited over even seeing a tall pine tree.

Little over a 3 hour drive from our place to the Hot Springs exit. We came off of I-30 onto 7 north and over the Lake DeGray dam. Immediately upon seeing that area and the hills in the distance, we were enchanted. It was like a blood transfusion....I mean a total jolt for the eyes and the soul.

I had always been a bit skeptical of the whole "mountains in Arkansas" thing. I lived in north Georgia for 20 years and used to drive up through the Blue Ridge to the Smokies and over to Asheville, NC whenever I could. Gorgeous territory. I figured anything I saw in Arkansas would leave me underwhelmed in comparison. I also didn't see how anything that close to the Dallas/Ft. Worth vicinity could be that great.

My skepticism was instantly vanquished, though. That hwy. 7 drive into Hot Springs was just beautiful. We couldn't believe it! Like another world completely. Twisting, turning roads unveiling big, beautiful hills covered in trees.....many which had turned gold and orange from the autumn air. Country homes with adjacent meadows and mountain backdrops. Ahhhh.....Came into Lake Hamilton, and then Hot Springs. Man, by that time I was cursing myself for only giving us one night there, as I knew it wouldn't be enough.

Hot Springs itself was interesting. Coming in from the south on Central Ave. - New section/run down section/historic section. The run down section surprised me. I didn't expect to see anything like that. All those abandoned old hotels, too......what is up with that? The Howard Johnsons was a cool structure. The nice, white Baptist Church across from the horse track. Downtown and Bathhouse Row.....very quaint and soothing. We didn't do that section, though, as we made a beeline into the Ouachita's from there.

So we traveled on 7 up past HSV, through Mountain Valley (where I scored a Razorbacks shirt at the Wal-Mart - I collect college sports gear) and up to Jessieville, where we picnicked at one of a slew of tables next to a creek bed that was almost dry. The only real downer to this trip was seeing the effects of the drought that southern Arkansas is going though. Many creeks and streams were stagnant or dry, and the rivers and lakes were noticeably low. We then cut over to hwy. 27 on 314, and went down to 270, then back east into Hot Springs. The scenery was simply divine. It was the most relaxing, wonderful drive we had been on in our 5 years of marriage........and we've been to some really nice places in the past. What I loved about it was that it just seemed to be the perfect blend of everything, if that makes sense. The mountains weren't big enough to be intimidating or scary, nor were they small enough to leave one wanting. Just tall enough to captivate, and yet still sharing the horizon with a beautiful, blue sky. Taking in the homescapes was great, too. We so long to have a home in that type of setting........trees, meadows, mountain backdrop. Very, very, soothing......almost spiritual.

Once back in town we checked into the hotel and headed back down to Lake DeGray. Loved that little park by the dam. The sun on the water (what was left of it) was majestic. Made for a romantic setting at sunset. Then we took that great drive back up 7 into town. I could go back & forth on that stretch all day.

Had dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. Yummy. That looks like the newest section of HS, at least the parts we happened upon.....right there at 270 and Central. Went back to the hotel and crashed......or at least tried to. I was too jacked from the beauty of the area to sleep. Thought about it a good portion of the night.

Next morning we grabbed some Starbucks and did Hot Springs Mountain and West Mountain in the National Park. ...the views.....the greenery.....the rocks......the twists and turns. The Arkansas sunrise shining down on it all and revealing the town of Hot Springs below. We absorbed as much of it as we could......but alas, time always wins out in the end. We had to go home and relieve Grandma of kid duty.

Thank you, Hot Springs and Ouachita Mountains, for renewing us in a way that only you could. I think it goes without saying that we'll be back. Now I know why everyone from Texas goes to Hot Springs.

I really enjoyed your write up, and glad to hear you had such a fun road trip! Next time you are in Hot Springs, check out the Garvin Gardens which is really beautiful and I've heard Max Blade's magic show is great fun. If you ever have the time, I would really recommend driving up north to the Arkansas Grand Canyon. My jaw was on the floor from the view.
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas via ATX
1,241 posts, read 1,360,124 times
Reputation: 1659
Great post!

Arkansas is beautiful.
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Old 10-20-2015, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Ouachita Mtns of Arkansas
1,923 posts, read 2,542,809 times
Reputation: 3521
Next time take Hwy 71 to Mena. Then Talimena National Scenic Byway Home - Talimena National Scenic Byway
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Old 10-20-2015, 11:04 AM
 
4,748 posts, read 6,144,281 times
Reputation: 6711
Yep, Arkansas is beautiful. Jeffbase40's recommendation of Garvan Woodland Gardens is spot on...they even have a children's garden with things to climb on. You can buy season passes pretty inexpensively, I think...something you would probably want to do if you move there. I loved the Japanese garden...all those Japanese maples, just so pretty. It was late spring when we went, and I'd love to go back in the fall.

The Talimena Scenic Byway is beautiful also, and the view from the top at the Queen Wilhelmina State Park Lodge is awesome. So is the Arkansas Grand Canyon, as mentioned, but that's pretty far from Hot Springs. Something you could do in a weekend, though, if you ever move to HS.

So many things to do within a morning's drive of Hot Springs.....
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Old 10-20-2015, 01:41 PM
 
Location: The Natural State
1,140 posts, read 1,171,248 times
Reputation: 1042
Wow! You people (all who Posted here on this Thread) have said it all, and what many of us have known "forever"

Last edited by Old Fossil; 10-20-2015 at 01:42 PM.. Reason: make a point
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Old 10-20-2015, 09:26 PM
 
Location: Hot Springs Village, AR
265 posts, read 270,138 times
Reputation: 289
Quote:
Originally Posted by slingshot View Post
Or Mount Magazine State Park
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Old 10-30-2015, 03:41 PM
 
Location: Milwaukee/Biloxi
74 posts, read 52,900 times
Reputation: 115
What an eloquently written post. And so true! You hit the nail on the head by saying "just seemed to be the perfect blend of everything, if that makes sense" It makes perfect sense, for all of Arkansas, especially the Hot Springs area! It is truly God's Country, and a little secret that not many people seem to know about...I hope it stays that way!
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Old 10-30-2015, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, Isanti County, MN
2,682 posts, read 4,236,294 times
Reputation: 3352
Quote:
Originally Posted by mibiloxi View Post
What an eloquently written post. And so true! You hit the nail on the head by saying "just seemed to be the perfect blend of everything, if that makes sense" It makes perfect sense, for all of Arkansas, especially the Hot Springs area! It is truly God's Country, and a little secret that not many people seem to know about...I hope it stays that way!
Thank you. You know, it just goes to show that we should never write any place completely off until we've had a chance to at least explore it a little bit. I'm 46, and had been through Arkansas many times in my life....... although always following Interstates 30 and 40 on the way to somewhere else, and I just never thought much of it. Then, literally the MOMENT I get off of the interstate, I am INSTANTLY smitten as I slowly discover these amazingly beautiful vicinities that were practically right under my nose all those years. I then spend the next 24 hours taking it all in while simultaneously wondering aloud how I possibly could have missed it to begin with, and I haven't been able to get the place off of my mind since.

We can't wait to go back to Arkansas, and were so moved by the experience that we've talked about actually moving there. As far as we're concerned, the cat is out of the bag on The Natural State!
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Old 10-30-2015, 05:16 PM
 
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas via ATX
1,241 posts, read 1,360,124 times
Reputation: 1659
I've heard people say the same thing about Arkansas seeming unremarkable when traveled by interstate.

I-30 stays just out of the hill country almost all the way through the state. I-40 follows the Arkansas River valley through the western half of the state. Go north or south of I-40 either direction and you're in the mountains, at least west of Little Rock.
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