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  • Writer's pictureEmily

The Ozarks of Arkansas: What they are and why you’ll love ‘em.

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

My guests come to Fireside Retreats from all over the country because they just want to get away, slow down, and take a breath. It’s truer than ever after this last year we’ve all had, and maybe I’m biased, but the Ozarks really are the perfect spot to retreat and relax.


So what are the Ozarks, exactly?

I get that question a lot. Ask a hundred Ozarkers and you’ll get that many answers — or more! Some associate “Ozarks” with the Ozark National Forest. Others think of the Ozark Mountains or the Ozark Plateau, covering parts of Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and even a little piece of Kansas. Still others feel the Ozarks don’t really have a definite border, but you’ll know when you get there by the natural beauty of the land, the lilt of the music, the charm of the dialect, and the spirit of the people who live here. And that’s the answer that feels most true to me.


Mountain View, Arkansas and the Ozark National Forest

Let’s look at exactly where we’re situated and explore just a few of the recreational activities in the Ozark Mountains that you shouldn’t miss while you’re here.

A young raccoon walking through green grass
Never know what wildlife you'll see!

Mountain View, Arkansas, is nestled in the heart of the Ozarks. Specifically, it’s in the Sylamore Ranger District of the 1.2+-million-acre Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. There are seven districts in the Ozark National Forest and each one has its own unique personality and flavor. They’re all just rich with natural beauty. The mountains roll through, creating habitats for all kinds of wildlife. I've seen deer, turkeys, raccoons, bears, wild hogs, and even mountain lions!

Wildlife abounds in our lakes, rivers, and creeks, too. And by wildlife, I mean trout. Lots. Of. Trout. (Bass, too. But did I mention trout?)

There are plenty of rivers in Arkansas’s Ozark National Forest, but the White River in Mountain View takes the cake — I mean, the bait! The White River gives visitors the opportunity for world-class trout fishing, providing habitat for four species: rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook. In fact, the Arkansas State Records for cutthroat (10 lbs., 2 oz.) and rainbow (19 lbs., 1 oz. WHAAAT?) both come from the White River.

By the way, you’ll notice the Spring River on that list, too, as the site of eight more state records, for everything from sturgeon to muskie. If you want to check it out, it’s only about a 90-minute drive away.

Read more about other fishing spots in and around Mountain View. Or get info about kayak and canoe trips in the Ozarks. Some of my waterfront cabins also come equipped with kayaks, so you can paddle right in the back yard.

Reserve a kayak-ready Fireside Retreat:

A crystal-clear creek running next to a cabin in Mountain View, Arkansas
Camphouse on Livingston Creek

Trails, trails, trails: The best hiking trails in the Ozark National Forest

Whether you’re looking to hike, bike, run, or ride (anything from a horse to an ATV), we’ve got you covered. (Some trails are for foot traffic only, so if you’re planning a day of biking, horseback riding, or ATVing, be sure the trail you’re heading to allows it.) The longest hiking trail in the Ozark National Forest is the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Hikers' backpacks on rocks

The OHT extends from Buffalo National River to Lake Fort Smith State Park, and it crosses mountains, rivers, and seven counties. There are additional sections, like our own Sylamore Trail near Mountain View, that are not connected to the main trail but are still technically part of the OHT. Camping on the trail is allowed, but of course you’ll be staying at a Fireside Retreat so we don’t even need to get into that. ;) There are also plenty of hiking and biking trails close to Mountain View.


They don’t call us the Natural State for nothing.

If you’re looking for Ozark National Forest vacation rental and cabin options, I hope you’ll take a look around my site, especially the Explore section. There is a LOT to do here, and most of it involves enjoying the natural beauty of the outdoors. Stay tuned for more blogs about local music, culture, and ways to enjoy our beautiful Ozarks. Thanks for visiting.


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