The Best Fall Rides in the Ozarks

By Jill Rohrbach |

Best Rides in the Ozarks: Peak Fall Color is on the Way!

The last days of October mean peak fall color is about to arrive, making this the perfect time to enjoy a scenic ride on one of Northwest Arkansas’ sightseeing highways, byways or scenic routes.

All across Arkansas, landscapes will soon be showing deep reds, vibrant orange and the brilliant hues of fall. To help plan your scenic ride or a fall foliage tour, Arkansas Tourism is providing weekly updates available at

Normally, the peak of color occurs around two or three weeks after color changes begin, meaning late October for Northwest Arkansas and the Ozarks, late October or early November for central and western Arkansas, and early to mid-November for the southern and eastern sections. It’s all dependent on weather, of course.

Behind the wheel, on the back of a motorcycle, or aboard an Arkansas & Missouri excursion train, a scenic ride is a great way to take in the brilliant autumn color.

Here are some of the best routes for fall color in Northwest Arkansas and the Ozarks!

Boston Mountains Scenic Loop/U.S. 71 and I-540

Two very different roads crossing the highest part of the Ozark Mountains combine to make the Boston Mountains Scenic Loop.

U.S. 71 rises and falls, twists and turns through the mountain landscape, allowing travelers to intimately experience the rugged terrain. Not far to the west, Interstate 49 passes over the mountains streams, valleys and ridges with several soaring bridges and a tunnel carrying the speeding traffic of a super-highway.

Both routes offer impressive mountain vistas.

LENGTH: U.S. 71, 42 miles; I-540, 38 miles.

THINGS TO KNOW: Shopping, lodging and dining are available in Alma at the southern end of the loop and Fayetteville at the north end. Cabins and camping are available near the loop at Devil’s Den State Park, at White Rock Mountain Recreation Area and at Lake Fort Smith State Park.

Pig Trail Scenic Byway/Ark. 23

The rugged and forested Boston Mountains region of the Ozark Mountains provides the setting for this route, which often runs through a tunnel of foliage during spring, summer and fall. Spring wildflowers and brilliant autumn foliage make the route especially popular during those seasons. The route crosses the Mulberry River and the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail.

LENGTH: Ark. 23, 19 miles from the south boundary of the Ozark National Forest to its intersection with Ark. 16 at Brashears.

THINGS TO KNOW: Shopping, lodging and dining are available in Ozark near the southern end of the route and Fayetteville to the northwest. Cabins and camping are available on the byway at Turner Bend and nearby at the White Rock Mountain Recreation Area, which offers dramatic views of the surrounding Ozarks from atop the 2,260-foot peak. Other Ozark National Forest campgrounds in the area are Shores Lake and Redding.

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