Welcome to Arkansas
With Arkansas' alluring forests, lakes and mountains, it's no
wonder most of the state's visitors come in search of outdoor
adventure. Its rock climbing, particularly the sandstone crags of
the northwest, is first rate; its rivers and streams, bursting with
trout, are perfect for fishing, canoeing and rafting; hunters enjoy
abundant wildlife and comparatively liberal regulations; more than
50 parks scattered across the state offer excellent hiking,
backpacking and mountain biking; and digging sites enable holiday
'geologists' to unearth their own quartz, judged to be among the
world's finest, and occasionally even find a diamond. The Crater of
Diamonds State Park is the only diamond mine in the world where
visitors can pay an entry fee and keep whatever gems they find. The
state's off-the-beaten-path reputation makes it a quite affordable
getaway spot as well, and popular with families.
Once, however, Arkansas had a slightly different reputation
among travellers. In the early 1900s, due to its thermal springs,
it was an elite hideaway for those seeking health, rejuvenation and
luxury. Hot Springs National Park, with its magnificent stone and
marble bathhouses, now historic landmarks, was the most famous spa,
and it remains the most visited spot in Arkansas, attracting both
bathers and history buffs. Eureka Springs is another picturesque
historic town that grew up around its hot springs, far north in the
fabled Ozark Mountains.
The Ozarks are one of the unique cultural regions in America.
This mountainous plateau covering northern Arkansas as well as
parts of bordering states was settled mainly by Scottish-Irish
immigrants. As in Appalachia, the area's beautiful but harsh
terrain led to a hardscrabble existence. However, from this
lifestyle blossomed an ingenuity that has led to generations of
Ozark artisans excelling in quilting, knife and instrument making,
wood carving and other crafts. 'Mountain music', in which masters
of the fiddle, dulcimer, autoharp and banjo join together for
jamborees, is another intrinsic part of Ozark heritage. The Ozark
Folk Center is dedicated to maintaining a living history of the
Ozark way of life.
The southern region of Arkansas opens up into flatter land,
reflecting Arkansas' agricultural background. Two of Arkansas' most
famous sons, Johnny Cash and Bill Clinton, were born in this area.
Clinton's birthplace is the town of Hope, but his true Arkansas
legacy is to be found in the capital, Little Rock. The William J.
Clinton Presidential Library and Museum houses history's largest
collection of presidential papers and artefacts. It is located in
Little Rock's vibrant River Market District, on the banks of the
Arkansas River, a revitalized warehouse area that now hosts a
thriving farmers market and is home to countless funky galleries
and boutiques, fine southern restaurants, trendy cafés and lively
bars. Travellers in search of more history can visit the Little
Rock Central High School, now a national historic site, where, in
1957, President Eisenhower dispatched federal paratroopers to force
the local government to allow nine black students to attend the
Information & Facts
Arkansas has four distinct, yet temperate, seasons. It is far
enough south to have extremely hot, humid summers, during which
thunderstorms occur quite frequently. Arkansas does border the
so-called 'Tornado Alley', and severe tornadoes have struck in the
past. Spring and autumn are particularly mild and pleasant. Winters
are chilly, but not unbearably so, and while snow is not uncommon,
it is not excessive.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.
GMT ?6 (GMT ?5 from March to November).