Take the high road
Forget worrying about your phone’s GPS, because the Talimena National Scenic Byway is road-tripping made easy. But don’t ditch that phone completely—there are plenty of picture-worthy sights along this 54-mile stretch, which winds through the southern Ouachitas from Mena to Talihina, Oklahoma. (talimenascenicdrive.com)
1 RICH MOUNTAIN:
About 10 miles from Mena, the observation tower atop Rich Mountain gives you a 58-foot-high view from the highest point in the Ouachita National Forest.
2 QUEEN WILHELMINA STATE PARK:
Stretch your legs on the park’s day-trip-friendly trails, or enjoy a slice of home away from home at the lodge’s comfortable restaurant.
3 BLACK FORK MOUNTAIN TRAIL:
The Black Fork Wilderness harkens back to a life best lived by pioneers, and this 6-mile trail lets you in on the fun, too.
4 KERR ARBORETUM & NATURE CENTER:
Located just about halfway along the byway, this outdoor laboratory is the perfect place to do a little learning, thanks to the site’s three self-guided interpretive trails.
5 HORSE THIEF SPRING HISTORIC SITE:
You don’t have to load up your saddlebags to enjoy this mountain spring—supposedly used by outlaws in the Wild West days—thanks to the interpretive trails and 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps stonework that surrounds the spring.
6 TALIMENA STATE PARK:
Skipped the trails of Arkansas’ Queen Wilhelmina? Continue on Oklahoma 1, where you’ll find plenty of hiking opportunities in Oklahoma’s entrance to the byway.
7 THE ROCK HOUSE:
Stop by this family-owned ranch-restaurant any evening, Thursday through Sunday, for an eyeful of the Kiamichi Mountains and a stomachful of 18-ounce rib-eye.