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Scenic fall drives in central Arkansas

By Zoie Clift

Discover why Arkansas is known as “The Natural State” as you explore the wonderful wilderness around the state capital of Little Rock.

Fall drive in Petit Jean State Park
Credit: Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Fall is a wonderful time to get in some scenic drives as you head out in search of beautiful fall color. From Little Rock, driving toward Lake Maumelle on Arkansas 10 is a pretty drive year round but it can be a really standout experience in the fall months. This area in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains has rolling hills and plenty of trees that make up a good portion of the scenery you’ll find. Arkansas Highway 10 ends at Arkansas Highway 9 and if you head north from here, you’ll come to the town of Perryville.

Perryville is around 45 miles (70km) from Little Rock. The town is home to attractions like the Camp Ouachita Girl Scout Camp District, which was built between 1936-41 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It stands out as the only surviving WPA- and CCC-constructed Girl Scout facility in the nation. You can also access the Lake Sylvia Recreation Area. The Perry County Historical Museum in town is on the National Register of Historic Places and the building is a former American Legion hut built in the 1930s.

Be sure to visit Petit Jean State Park while you’re in the area, too. This was Arkansas’s first state park and is around 20 miles (32km) from town. The venture there is a scenic drive and a standout spot to view fall colors from vantage points like Stout’s Point.

For something a little different, U.S. 165 southeast out of Little Rock takes you through the farmlands of Scott and Keo. You’re in the flatlands, so it’s a different type of scenic drive. The crops take on a color all their own and the fields stretch out before you. At Scott, you can stop at the Plantation Agriculture Museum, Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, and Scott Plantation Settlement to get in some history along with the beautiful scenery.