You know fall has arrived when the evenings start to cool, but the days are still sunny with mild temperatures. The appearance of colors as the leaves begin to die is a visual reminder of the slower pace ahead. Fall foliage in the Ozark Mountains is especially spectacular, making it the perfect time for a fall getaway to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Colors peak in late October and early November, so plan a getaway afterward to catch the foliage in its full glory. The weather is at its best then too, with cooler days for walking downtown or hiking and biking.
Fall is a great time to explore the outdoors, and Eureka Springs offers a wealth of activities to get you outside to see the fall’s splash of color.
1. Eureka Springs Hiking and Biking Trails
Whether you prefer to view fall foliage on foot or by bike, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails designed to get you outdoors.
For an easy walking or biking loop, follow the Harmon Park Loop Trail, which travels 1.4 miles through Harmon Park, Spring Garden and the historic Upper Spring Street neighborhood.
Historic Lake Leatherwood City Park is a 1,610-acre park with more than 25 miles of hiking and biking trails surrounding a spring-fed lake. There is also kayaking and other water sports, camping, cabins and a marina in the park.
Black Bass City Park is a newer hiking and lake destination in Eureka Springs. There are 2 miles of trails, including a half-mile wheelchair accessible trail. Just minutes from downtown, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back on this path that circles the lake.
For more hiking in the surrounding area, check out Pigeon Creek at Norfold Lake, Kings Bluff Trail, and Pedestal Rocks Trail.
2. See The Foliage while Zip-Lining
Get up close to the display of colors with a zip line experience at Ozark Mountain Ziplines. You will traverse the hardwood forest from heights of up to 300+ feet. See the trees and limestone cliffs on a thrilling ride.
3. Explore nearby Dogwood Canyon
Dogwood Canyon spans over 10,000 acres on the Missouri-Arkansas border. You’ll find outstanding views of the Ozark Mountains while hiking, fishing, Segwaying, biking, horseback riding, or riding a wilderness tram tour. A property map shows all the adventures to discover.
4. Get a bird’s eye view from Whitaker Point
The Whitaker Point Trail is part of the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area in the Ozark National Forest. The 3 mile round trip hike to Whitaker Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag, takes about 2 hours. Along the trail, you’ll see a waterfall area in the spring and colorful leaves in the fall. The midpoint and highlight of the trail is the craggy rock that overlooks the Buffalo River country. Be sure to bring a camera — and be careful along the bluff line with its sheer drops.
Pro tip: When taking a selfie at Hawksbill Crag, the lighting is best either early morning or mid to late afternoon.
5. Take a scenic drive on winding mountain roads
The Ozarks are filled with fall splendor, and the views along the scenic byways are especially stunning. Try the stretch between highways 23 and 16 or between highways 7 to 62 for great fall colors.
6. Discover the natural springs for which the city is named
With more than 60 springs and 15 prominent springs within easy reach, Eureka Springs is often referred to as “the city that water built.” See the Eureka Springs Natural Springs Trail to plan a route.
7. Check Out A Fall Festival
The autumn season is full of festivals. Some favorites include the annual Corvette Weekend and War Eagle Craft Fair in October as well as the Ozark Folk Festival in November.
8. Ride the trolley to explore Eureka Springs
See the city on an open-air tram tour or take the trolley to discover this historic city. The trolley has four fixed route options to see different parts of Eureka Springs: the Red Route is a 3.3 mile stretch of the historic loop; The Blue Route visits the eastern side of the city in a counter-clockwise direction. The Yellow Route also visits the eastern side of the city, but clockwise. and the Purple Route travels along Highway 62 west toward the city limits.
9. See why Thorncrown Chapel wins Architectural Awards
Millions of people have visited this chapel since it opened in 1980. Designed by renowned architect E. Fay Jones, Thorncrown Chapel rises 48 feet into the Ozark sky from its forest floor.
10. Go Caving
There are a variety of underground wonderlands located in the area. About 30 minutes outside the city, you can tour the Cosmic Cavern, with its amazing rock formations and two lakes. visit War Eagle Cave at Beaver Lake. or tour Onyx Cave, the oldest exhibit cave in Arkansas. Take a traditional War Eagle Cavern tour or opt for the Wild Cavern Tour where you’ll swing and crawl your way through 2 miles of narrow passages. Above ground, try your hand at searching for semi-precious gems in the War Eagle Mining Company’s water dam.
11. Tour the weirdest abode in the Ozarks
Quigley Castle, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a historic house and museum located just south of Eureka Springs. Elise Quigley designed the castle to reflect her love of nature. Inside the two-story house, Elise created a natural space for growing plants. Four feet of bare earth was left between the ends of the living space and the walls, allowing flowering, tropical plants to grow up to the second-story ceiling. These plants are now over 65 years old. Outside, the walls are decorated with rocks that Quigley began collecting as a young woman.
12. Get local music
Whether you want to listen to music or just try a local brew or cocktail, Eureka Springs has many popular bars and clubs. Stop by the Gravel Bar at Wanderoo Lodge for wines or craft brews on tap and live music on the weekends. The Rowdy Beaver Den is a fun hangout for locals with entertainment from Wednesday through the weekend. Appreciate the view of downtown Main Street from the balcony perched on the side of a limestone bluff at Nyx Cafe and Bar. The Stone House is where you’ll find great music served with wine, beer and platters of meat, cheese, fruit and vegetables. Or check out the eclectic lounge in the heart of downtown at Missy’s White Rabbit Lounge.
13. Shop The Farmers Market
The flea market is open Thursday mornings in the community center parking lot. In addition to local produce, pick up freshly baked bread, honey, soaps and flowers.
The best restaurants in Eureka Springs
Eureka Springs is known for its delicious array of artisanal, local and comfort food options.
Dine among the trees at the Sky Bar
The Sky Bar Gourmet Pizza puts you in the treetops for a full display of colors. Located on the top floor of the Crescent Hotel, enjoy a gourmet pizza such as the mushroom Swiss patty pizza with brown sauce, hamburger, mushrooms, red onions, mozzarella and Swiss cheese. Sit on deck for a meal with a display — of color, that is.
Indulge your senses in the Grotto
Located in a historic building built into solid rock with a continuously running spring, Grotto Wood Fired Grill and Wine Cave delights the senses — from the location’s ambiance and custom music to the smell from the wood-fired grill and the unique flavors in menu. Chef Slane uses common ingredients to create unexpected menu items such as the mushroom and bone marrow bisque, a delicious fat and marrow roast and served with toasted bread.
The best places to stay in Eureka Springs
Stay in a cottage at Beaver Lake Cottages for fantastic lake views and fall foliage. The cabins are nestled among the trees, where you can enjoy your morning coffee on the deck or soak up the vibrant colors from the two-person Jacuzzi tub. There are also several cozy cabins available on Vrbo.
Or choose from historic lodging options with modern amenities, such as the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa or the 1905 Basin Park Hotel.
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