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Ozark - St. Francis National Forest

The Ozark National Forest covers 1.2 million acres, mostly in the Ozark mountains of northern Arkansas while the St. Francis National Forest includes just 22,600 acres in eastern Arkansas and is one of the smallest and most diverse forests in the country.
The Ozark National Forest covers 1.2 million acres, mostly in the Ozark mountains of northern Arkansas while the St. Francis National Forest includes just 22,600 acres in eastern Arkansas and is one of the smallest and most diverse forests in the country.

These forests are full of recreational opportunities for camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, hunting, boating, scenic drives, picnics sites, and opportunities for wildlife viewing also abound.

Check out this great interactive map on places to see and things to do in the forests.

The southern portion of the Ozark National Forest runs along the Arkansas River Valley south to the Ouachita Mountains. The Ozark Mountains are actually plateaus, uplifted as a unit, with few folds or faults. The ruggedness of these mountains is due to erosion of the plateaus by swift rivers rising in them. The forest includes four wilderness areas and also borders the Buffalo National River.

"Ozark," the Anglicized version of "Aux Arcs," meaning "with bows," was the name reportedly used by the early French explorer, deTiene, to designate the Bow Indians, a tribe native to the region.

The "Ozarks" are really part of the Boston Mountains, which are characterized by narrow V-shaped valleys that are bordered by a combination of steep-sided slopes and vertical bluffs of sandstone and limestone soaring beside clear streams. The vegetative is upland hardwood of oak-hickory with scattered pine and a brushy undergrowth, dominated by such species as dogwood, maple, redbud, serviceberry and witch-hazel.

"Sam's Throne"

This makes the Ozark National Forest one of the favorite places for visitors in the spring when the dogwood and redbuds are in bloom, and in the fall when the Forest turns into a brilliant display of oranges, reds, yellows and greens.

The St. Francis National Forest, located on the east central edge of the state, derives its name from the St. Francis River. The St. Francis National Forest is the only place in the National Forest System where the public can experience the awesome grandeur of the "Father of Waters," the mighty Mississippi River, from the shoreline.

Storm Creek and Bear Creek Lakes, along with the St. Francis and Mississippi Rivers, attract large numbers of anglers to the area. Popular game fish include: striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and bream.

Arkansas Forests

First-timer’s Adventure

A special treat

Visit Blanchard Springs Caverns
Enter an active cave where glistening formations like stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and flowstones are still changing. These crystalline formations are the result of minerals deposited by dripping water.

Blanchard Springs Caverns offers three tours. The Dripstone Trail winds through the magnificently decorated upper level. The longer, more strenuous Discovery Trail explores the middle level of the Caverns system. And the Wild Cave Tour offers visitors an introduction to spelunking in a structured environment.

Blanchard Springs Caverns is located 15 miles northwest of Mountain View off Arkansas 14.

Statistics

State(s):

Arkansas

Nearest Large Urban Area:

Fort Smith

Notes & Conditions:

Research campground locations and amenities at the U.S. National Forest Campground Directory. The Web site is full of pictures and detailed descriptions to help you plan your next trip.

If you want to experience a guided recreation trip in a National Forest, visit Adventure Vacation to learn about whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, camping, hiking and fishing trips.

Click here for information on where you can ride your off-highway vehicle.

Maps:

Visit the National Forest Store to see what maps are available for this Forest and others you may want to visit.