After reading great reviews about Northwestern Arkansas, in particular Bentonville and Eureka Springs, from Travel with Birdy, we knew we had to visit. Bentonville, best known as the home of the late Sam Walton and his retail empire, is becoming a cycling and tourism destination. Meanwhile the entire town of Eureka Springs, aptly dubbed the Stair-step Town, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
We stayed at Wanderlust RV Park. We arrived after they closed for the evening; as we approached and were trying to locate the late registration box, we were flagged down by Billy, who was waiting in a golf cart to guide us to our site. Billy is a seasonal camp host, and an exceptional one at that. He help us park, built a campfire two nights for us at the pavilion, and hung out and told stories around the fire with us. The amenities were fine at the campground - clean bathhouses, level sites, and great pavilions.
The weekend we visited Eureka Springs was the Corvette Rally; the hotel parking lots were lined Corvettes of all types as were the roads around town. ES is a unique town; the downtown area goes up and over a hilltop, so walking the shops and restaurants is a workout. Many of the buildings are 100 year old Victorian-style built as a resort town around the natural springs. We enjoyed eating at Aquarius Taquaria, where we sat outside near a dripping spring and enjoyed tacos and burrito bowls. It was so good that we ate there two nights in a row.
We stayed in Eureka Springs but decided to visit Bentonville both days of our visit. The drive between the two is winding highways, best described in the road signs as "crooked and steep". But it's also beautiful. If you take Highway 187 you'll cross Beaver Bridge, a one-lane yellow suspension bridge over Table Rock Lake. Along the route we also stopped to visit Throncrown Chapel, a Prairie-style, glass and wood chapel. This structure has been recognized by AIA with the 25-Year Award, which is kind of a big deal. Your journey will continue across, around, and through the Arkansas Ozarks until you arrive in Bentonville.
We had two priorities in Bentonville, we wanted to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and we wanted to Bike Bentonville. Neither attraction disappointed in the least. Admission to Crystal Bridges is free, thanks to a generous sponsorship from Walmart. This is a world class museum, that is worthy of at least a full day visit. Inside is a $500 million collection of artwork of famous American painters and sculptors. Outside you can walk the trails that lead to sculptures and structures, including a Frank Lloyd Wright house and a large Bucky Dome by Buckminster Fuller, an architect near and dear to our alma-mater, SIU.
We only scratched the surface of what is available in the beautiful region. Every visit to Arkansas we take, we leave feeling it is an under-appreciated destination. Our list of "want to do again" and "need to do's" in Arkansas continues to grow. We will be back, but we also have a lot more to see, as we continue Cricket Camping.
Shane and Jessica
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