Arkansas in Fall: Foliage, Road Trips & Festivals

Wooden ramp with chairs at Petit Jean State Park in the fall in Arkansas

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Arkansas, also known as The Natural State, is famous for its mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, hot springs, and diamond mines.

And fall in Arkansas is a great time to visit especially if you’re looking to take in some beautiful scenery. 

The leaves start to change color and the weather is comfortable, making it perfect to explore the outdoors.

To help you plan your trip, this guide will cover the exciting activities to do in Arkansas in fall, including the best spots to see the foliage, fall hikes, a stop at a hot spring, diamond hunting, pumpkin picking, fall-themed events, and more.

Whether you’re here to enjoy nature or just looking for a lovely destination in the autumn, find out what Arkansas has to offer.

Arkansas also features in our USA bucket list.

Northern Arkansas in Fall

Let’s start with the northern part of Arkansas which highlights attractions around the Ozarks.

The Ozark Mountains stretch across Arkansas and Missouri and are a great fall destination.

Listed below are some of the activities you can do in the area and nearby.

Ozark National Forest

The Ozark National Forest, Arkansas in fall colors is a lovely sight to see and features lots of outdoor fun.

It’s full of many sorts of trees, but hardwoods like oak and hickory make up the majority.

If you love hiking, there are plenty of hiking trails in the forest including the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail.

There are also areas for canoeing, biking, and camping.

Trail at the Ozark National Forest, Arkansas in the fall

Zipline through the Ozark Mountains 

Head to Eureka Springs in fall and experience the Ozark Mountain Ziplines (208 W Van Buren) which offers zipline tours all over the Ozark Mountains and Ozark National Forest.

Ziplining over the treetops is one of the best ways to take in the wonderful Northern Arkansas fall foliage.

There are 10 different zipline paths and one balance bridge that overlook the canopy of the Ozark National Forest.

Go on a Fall Foliage Hike to Hawksbill Crag 

Located in the Ozark National Forest, Hawksbill Crag on Whitaker Point Trail offers a scenic overlook that is perfect for viewing some of the best fall foliage in Arkansas.

With a three-mile hike from the road, you can reach this rock formation that juts out over the colorful forest below.

Take an Arkansas Fall Foliage Road Trip

The Ozark Scenic Byway goes through the Ozark Highlands and is an excellent route for a fall foliage road trip.

See all of the fall hues on the trees and experience five of the major streams that flow through the Highlands.

The Ozark Scenic Byway is 35 miles long and can be combined with other outdoor activities in the area.

To help you prepare for your adventure, check out our road trip packing list essentials.

See the Natural Wonders of Glory Hole Falls

The Glory Hole Waterfalls in Arkansas is one of the most unique places to experience the fall foliage and the natural beauty that the state has to offer.

This scenic waterfall can be found in the Ozark National Forest and was created when a hole was carved out over time by water falling below an overhanging bluff.

You can peek through the hole below the bluff to see the waters falling down as well as enjoy the forest in its fall colors.

There is also a 1.9-mile (round-trip distance) moderately difficult hiking trail in the area.

Catch the Twin Falls Surrounded by Fall Foliage

Visit the Twin Falls in fall to experience one of the most naturally beautiful places in the state.

You can find the falls in the Ozarks National Forest’s Richland Creek Wilderness which comes with a few miles of hiking trails and a couple of unnamed scenic lookouts.

There’s a 5.1-mile trail (round-trip distance) in the area that takes around 1 hour and 55 minutes to explore.

It’s also a good opportunity to see the fall colors in the Richland Creek Wilderness.

Fall colors surrounding Twin Falls in the autumn

Central Arkansas in Fall

Check out what Central Arkansas has to offer during the fall season.

From biking around the iconic Ouachita Mountains to visiting a pumpkin patch- the region has plenty of activities to enjoy in autumn.

You may also like our list of the best national parks to visit in October.

Pick your own Peaches and Apples at the Orchard (86 Mode Rd, Guy)

Cadron Crest Orchard (86 Mode Rd, Guy) offers a variety of apples in the fall that you can pick yourself.

If you go early enough in September, you will be able to pick both apples and the late crop of summer peaches.

Harvesting your own fruit is a great kick-off to autumn in Arkansas.

Enjoy a Hike and Go Kayaking at Petit Jean State Park 

Petit Jean State Park (1285 Petit Jean Mountain Rd, Morrilton) is a great place to visit if you are interested in experiencing the fall foliage from both the forest and the water.

This state park offers tons of hiking trails and campsites that will have you immersed in all of the warm colors of fall.

Petit Jean State Park offers boat rentals, so you can enjoy the many waterways and waterfalls that are perfect to explore on a fall afternoon.

Wooden ramp with chairs at Petit Jean State Park in the fall in Arkansas

Take a Fall Hike at the Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Head to the Pinnacle Mountain State Park in fall (11901 Pinnacle Valley Rd, Roland) which is home to miles of hiking trails and lookouts surrounding Pinnacle Mountain.

There are around 22 miles of trails that range from easy to hard.

One of the most popular trails is the Pinnacle Mountain West Summit Trail, featuring a 1.5-mile difficult hike that takes more than an hour to complete- but offers some great sights along the way.

At the top, Pinnacle Mountain offers some of the best views in Central Arkansas for taking in the beautiful fall foliage.

Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Arkansas with cars parking nearby

Visit the Central Arkansas Library

In case you want to take a break from the outdoors during your fall adventure, head to the Central Arkansas Library System.

Around fifteen branches of the library can be found all over Arkansas, with the Main Library located in downtown Little Rock.

You can find interactive activities such as author talks, art exhibitions, and film showings.

There’s also a specialized facility around the Main Library area called The Ron Robinson Theater which hosts programs like musical performances and plays.

Check the library’s events calendar to discover what activities and events are being hosted there in the autumn.

Go on a Haunted Walking Tour of Little Rock

Haunted Arkansas Tours offers a variety of walking tours that take an inside look at Little Rock’s most haunted and spooky places.

An expert tour guide will walk you around the city of Little Rock where you’ll discover the interesting history and legends of the area.

They also host the Boos and Brews tour on special occasions, which combines a haunted tour with a pub tour.

Pick a Pumpkin from Motley’s Pumpkin Patch

Motley’s Pumpkin Patch (13724 Sandy Ann Drive, Little Rock) has all sorts of fall fun for the whole family.

Pick a pumpkin and try all kinds of fall treats at the farm.

Visit the Hot Springs Bathhouse Row 

If you’re looking to warm yourself up from the crisp autumn air, why not head to the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas in fall?

Among the area’s highlights is Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Spring, home to eight historic bathhouses named Hale, Lamar, Maurice, Buckstaff, Fordyce, Ozark, Quapaw, and Superior.

The site features stunning bathhouse structures and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

You can round out your visit with a soak in the naturally heated 102-degree mineral water of the Buckstaff Bathhouse, which has been in operation since 1912.

The water comes from the 47 springs of Hot Springs Mountain and is enjoyed by both tourists and locals looking for some therapeutic and relaxing baths.

Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs, Arkansas

See the Fall Foliage at Garvan Woodland Gardens 

Garvan Woodland Gardens (550 Arkridge Road, Hot Springs) is a huge botanical garden owned by the University of Arkansas.

With preserved local flora, the Garvan Woodland Gardens is a great place to take a stroll and enjoy the Arkansas fall colors.

The grounds of this botanical garden are filled with rare plants that you can only see in the preserved environment.

Go for a Bike Ride around the Ouachita Mountains 

The Ouachita Mountains and the surrounding national forest is one of the great places to go on a fall foliage bike ride.

There are bike trails around the area that are easy to navigate and offer miles of adventure past pristine lakes and mountain hills. 

Some of them include the Ouachita National Recreation Trail (Mena) which spans 108 miles; the Womble Trail (Mt Ida Township) measuring 37 miles; and the 45-mile Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (Hot Springs).

Mountain ridges and fall colors in Ouachita National Forest

Western Arkansas in Fall

The following list will explore some of the fall-worthy activities in the western region of Arkansas, including spots to visit in the southwestern- from taking a foliage drive in Mena to diamond hunting in Murfreesboro.

Visit the Mountain Lodge at Queen Wilhelmina State Park 

If you love to see some stunning scenery, you need to visit Mena, Arkansas in fall.

Head to the Queen Wilhelmina State Park (3877 Highway 88 W., Mena) which features a great lookout from the second highest mountain peak in the state at almost 3,000 feet high.

The refurbished lodge, called the Castle in the Sky, near the top of the mountain offers great views of the fall foliage below. 

Take the Talimena Scenic Drive 

Want to know where to find more of Mena, Arkansas fall foliage? 

The Talimena National Scenic Byway (Arkansas Highway 88) stretches up the entire Western border and offers one of the best fall foliage drives in Arkansas.

This hilly byway will take you in and out of the Ouachita National Forest full of 54 miles of fall foliage.

A day trip up this scenic byway will give you your fill of fall colors and autumn weather.

Hunt for Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

The Crater of Diamonds State Park (209 State Park Rd, Murfreesboro) features the only diamond mine in the world that is open to the public.

Prospecting for diamonds is a perfect way to get outside in the fall weather.

Even better, you get to keep all of the diamonds you find.

Go for a Fall Fishing Trip at Millwood Lake 

Millwood Lake in Millwood State Park (1564 Hwy. 32 East, Ashdown) is a great place to take a fall fishing trip.

Fall offers a lower chance that alligators will be present, and the fish will be biting.

See all of the Arkansas fall foliage while you keep an eye out for the Arkansas state fish, the Alligator Gar.

Learn the Legend of the Boggy Creek Monster

If you’re looking for something to do in the fall that’s just in time for Halloween, visit the Fouke Monster Mart (104 Highway 71, Fouke) and learn more about the legend of the Fouke Monster.

The monster was said to be first sighted in the town of Fouke and made famous by the 1973 movie, the Legend of the Boggy Creek.

Complete your visit by buying some shirts or gifts inspired by the Boggy Creek Monster.

Fall Festivals in Arkansas

The following list explores fall festivals and events to look forward to on your next visit to Arkansas.

The Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival 

The Hillberry Harvest Moon Festival (Eureka Springs) is a fall music fest that happens every October.

Hosted in the Mark Twain National Forest, this music festival is a great way to hear live music while enjoying the mild fall weather that Eureka Springs has to offer.

Join in the four-day festival in the Ozark hills filled with 2 stages of bluegrass music, food, and fall fun at The Harvest Moon Festival.

Hillcrest Harvestfest 

The Hillcrest Harvestfest in Little Rock is a full day of fall fun for the whole family.

From live music to arts and crafts, this festival has something for everyone.

You can also find plenty of food trucks around the area or sample some craft beer.

Timberfest 

Timberfest (Sheridan) is an annual lumberjack festival that happens every October in downtown Sheridan.

Watch lumberjacks take part in a variety of competitions while relishing all the foods you can find from vendors in the area as well as all the fun in the event.

Timberfest even includes a parade, a 5k fun run, and tons of games for people of all ages.

The King Biscuit Blues Festival

If you love the blues, make sure to add the King Biscuit Blues Festival to your list of festivals to join in Arkansas in the fall.

Held every October on the banks of the Mississippi river in downtown Helena, the festival features performances from various blues musicians.

The event also features a 5k run, a bicycle race, a barbecue contest as well an arts and crafts expo.

Final Thoughts

Arkansas in the fall is surely worth visiting and we hope our guide has helped you plan your next trip to the state.

And don’t forget to share your experience in the comments below.

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