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Old 01-06-2018, 11:17 PM
 
Location: Jewel Lake (Sagle) Idaho
22,768 posts, read 14,405,040 times
Reputation: 12438

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I currently live in rural Idaho. There is a lot to love about the state-20 million or so acres of National Forest, tons of rivers and lakes, lots of places to play in the woods. And due to the shear area and limited population our forests are pretty uncrowded. One of my favorite pastimes is heading into the forest on an "Adventure" (ADV) motorcycle and spending a few days riding, exploring and camping.

I love Idaho, but there are a couple of negatives. First-winters, at least in the northern part of the state, are LONG. We have a couple feet on the ground now and winter is just getting started. Worse, the high country in the mountains doesn't melt off until June/July, leaving a short backcountry riding season. Finally-it's not a cheap area. If you are looking for a newish 3 bedroom house on a few acres of land, you're hard pressed to find much for under $400k. Looking at Zillow, AR looks MUCH more reasonable. And unlike places further south in the western states-you are green, instead of barren desert.

It appears that your National Forests are a much smaller portion of the state. Do they tend to be crowded, or is it still easy to just head up a forest road and find an empty place to camp? Can you ride for days without running out of nice country to see and explore on dirt roads? Are ATVs/UTVs popular? Lots of hunting?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have. I'm just starting to explore a little now. Never thought I'd be leaving Idaho (and it's not a done deal) but as I get older (and more drawn into riding), I really would like a longer riding season! Not to mention spend less time plowing.
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:40 PM
 
Location: The Natural State
1,012 posts, read 989,987 times
Reputation: 804
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyman at Jewel Lake View Post
I currently live in rural Idaho. There is a lot to love about the state-20 million or so acres of National Forest, tons of rivers and lakes, lots of places to play in the woods. And due to the shear area and limited population our forests are pretty uncrowded. One of my favorite pastimes is heading into the forest on an "Adventure" (ADV) motorcycle and spending a few days riding, exploring and camping.

I love Idaho, but there are a couple of negatives. First-winters, at least in the northern part of the state, are LONG. We have a couple feet on the ground now and winter is just getting started. Worse, the high country in the mountains doesn't melt off until June/July, leaving a short backcountry riding season. Finally-it's not a cheap area. If you are looking for a newish 3 bedroom house on a few acres of land, you're hard pressed to find much for under $400k. Looking at Zillow, AR looks MUCH more reasonable. And unlike places further south in the western states-you are green, instead of barren desert.

It appears that your National Forests are a much smaller portion of the state. Do they tend to be crowded, or is it still easy to just head up a forest road and find an empty place to camp? Can you ride for days without running out of nice country to see and explore on dirt roads? Are ATVs/UTVs popular? Lots of hunting?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have. I'm just starting to explore a little now. Never thought I'd be leaving Idaho (and it's not a done deal) but as I get older (and more drawn into riding), I really would like a longer riding season! Not to mention spend less time plowing.
The designated camping areas get pretty crowded during summer but some people do go "off road" for an overnighter. All three of our NF are too small to ride "for days" but you can put in some great hours, or even days if you ride all the roads. ATVs are popular and there are lots of them during the summer camping season. Seems each camping family has one for each member In addition to the dedicated forest roads there are some designated ATV trails, but don't get caught "boon-docking" because that makes the rangers and NF law enforcement severely hostile. There is hunting during designated seasons.


Full disclosure; I grew up in the Ouachita Mountains and have done lots of archeology work on the Ouachita National Forest, so that's what I'm referring to in the above statements. I know nothing about the Ozark or St Francis National Forests. Come on, and enjoy The Natural State
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Old Yesterday, 08:54 AM
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Status: "2018 resolution: get out of the Ozarks" (set 15 days ago)
 
208 posts, read 103,489 times
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Idaho has almost as much federal land as Arkansas has in total land. Less than 10% of land in Arkansas is federal land
I personally don't care one way or the other, these are just stats.
There is really nothing in the way of wide-open ATV trails, as the state also does not maintain state-wide trails as some states do.
Adventure bikes aren't really a much of a "thing" in Arkansas, but the ATV culture overall is strong. Mostly they get used on personal property, taken to a small set of trails somewhere, or ridden on dirt roads.
For what you're describing, a fair amount of time would have to be spent on asphalt if you're highway legal, and camping from time to time would consist of a state park campground or some sort of KOA type of facility.
No offense, but this isn't the west. If more time on your bike over the course of a year is more important than the "adventure" experience, Arkansas might work. People don't ride much in the winters, or on chillier days in the spring and fall. I assume you're accustomed to really cold temps and know how to deal with it, so even winters in Arkansas won't seem like much. You'll just be one of the very few people riding a bike during those times.
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Old Yesterday, 04:23 PM
 
127 posts, read 68,063 times
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You really need to visit The Natural State (AR) to see for yourself. I have been coast to coast and have never seen the beauty I see in Northern Arkansas. If you're a fisherman, no other location offers as much clean water heavily populated with delicious fishies. The Buffalo National River is a true treasure that you could spend years exploring and of course fishing it. I highly recommend a road trip. The only negative about the south is, since it is the south, it does get a bit warmer than you may be used to. We fished the White river tail-water off of Bull Shoals Lake Thanksgiving weekend. It was like a surreal dream. The good kind where you catch your limits while watching the eagles soaring and the geography was indescribable. It was also in the mid-50's for temperature. Absolutely fantastic. We had a fish fry Saturday after Thanksgiving with trout breaded with Nonna Belle's. Yum!

If my life were just about me, I would be moving to Yellville area by now. Unfortunately, I need to convince DW.

Many of the towns are small. NWA is the largest population center in Northern AR. That's where the jobs are the most plentiful. As an almost retiree, a job is pretty low on my list unless it has to do with fishin.
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Old Yesterday, 10:56 PM
 
Location: Jewel Lake (Sagle) Idaho
22,768 posts, read 14,405,040 times
Reputation: 12438
Thanks for the comments everyone. I am concerned about the lack of public land, but that's true pretty much everywhere in the east. Looks like some pretty country. I'll be out that way this spring-heading over to Alabama to meet up with my brother for a few days. That will be on the big touring bike, rather than the ADV, but it will still give me a chance to at least see the state and get a bit of a feel for what's there. Hope to spend at least a couple days in Arkansas.

As far as temperatures, I don't mind riding in the 20s (heated grips and seat make it quite comfortable). Only thing that concerns me is ice. My private road iced over about Thanksgiving and will probably remain so until March. Got a case of PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) right now-makes me cranky.

On a different note-once you are out of the National Forests, are there still a lot of gravel roads, or is most everything paved? Small, winding rural roads with the occasional tiny town are just a lot of fun to explore, even if it isn't "backcountry".
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Old Today, 04:12 AM
 
127 posts, read 68,063 times
Reputation: 164
https://www.arkansas.com/outdoors/.

There is bunches of outdoor info and guides for AR, I attached one link. Coming from Illinois, AR has way more outdoor opportunities . Where i currently live, I can choose between corn or soybeans for my outdoor adventure.
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Old Today, 06:58 AM
 
Location: Ozark Mountains Arkansas
1,366 posts, read 818,411 times
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You'll find that the highways in Arkansas are VERY popular for motorbikes due to the curvy mountain highways and breathtaking scenery.

I have a son that rides dirt bikes and motorbikes. There are some designated trails for the ATV's/dirt bikes in AR and southern MO but you cannot ride them in the national forest unless it's designated for it. Most of our roads off the highway are long winding dirt roads. My son uses his Suzuki DRZ for the dirt roads and his CBR for highways.

Last edited by Hollynla; Today at 07:18 AM..
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Old Today, 08:32 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
65,705 posts, read 73,961,637 times
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All I can say is: AR has about everything anyone could want but it isn't perfect. Yes, there is a lot of federal land for camping, but of course in the summer months, like everywhere it can get crowded. You see lots of ADV and ATVs plus hiking trails and nature. The biggest drawback for someone living in a dryer climate would be the summer humidity. No, it isn't anything like the deep south or Texas but it is an issue for some. Just make a visit in late spring or early summer and see what you think.
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Old Today, 10:52 AM
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Status: "2018 resolution: get out of the Ozarks" (set 15 days ago)
 
208 posts, read 103,489 times
Reputation: 266
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyman at Jewel Lake View Post
On a different note-once you are out of the National Forests, are there still a lot of gravel roads, or is most everything paved? Small, winding rural roads with the occasional tiny town are just a lot of fun to explore, even if it isn't "backcountry".
There are plenty of gravel roads anywhere.
Small towns dominate the countryside, but they are rarely of the cutsie, well kept type though there are a few if those. It's just not part of the overall culture. They tend to sprawl outward towards another town with plenty of houses and even businesses in between. This isn't the case in every single section, but as the population grows it only gets worse. It is a rural state, and a lot of people move to the area to live out in the country on some land.
As you can tell by these forums, a lot of people like Arkansas. Perhaps I just see things differently, or perhaps I'm too straightforward. I'm not going to sugarcoat things just to sell my part of the world.
I get the impression you like wide open spaces. Arkansas isn't the most crowded place, but it is not wide open. For motorcycles, it's more of a Harley-biker-rally kind of place but you see a little of everything else.
I'm not trying to discourage, it's strictly up to those inquiring to decide for themselves.
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Old Today, 11:24 AM
 
Location: The Natural State
1,012 posts, read 989,987 times
Reputation: 804
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toyman at Jewel Lake View Post
Thanks for the comments everyone. I am concerned about the lack of public land, but that's true pretty much everywhere in the east. Looks like some pretty country. I'll be out that way this spring-heading over to Alabama to meet up with my brother for a few days. That will be on the big touring bike, rather than the ADV, but it will still give me a chance to at least see the state and get a bit of a feel for what's there. Hope to spend at least a couple days in Arkansas.

As far as temperatures, I don't mind riding in the 20s (heated grips and seat make it quite comfortable). Only thing that concerns me is ice. My private road iced over about Thanksgiving and will probably remain so until March. Got a case of PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) right now-makes me cranky.

On a different note-once you are out of the National Forests, are there still a lot of gravel roads, or is most everything paved? Small, winding rural roads with the occasional tiny town are just a lot of fun to explore, even if it isn't "backcountry".

In AR lots of gravel county, rural roads. But gotta look for them. When you decide which route you will be taking through AR send me a DM telling me and I'll give you a better idea where to look.
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