Excursions: The Arkansas Missouri Railroad passenger train currently runs between Fort Smith and Winslow Saturday mornings along with a few other excursions weekdays. Look for the schedule to pick up into spring. www.wamrailroad.com
Know on the go: Arkansas’ state tourism app offers mobile access to information on all the state’s best attractions, lodgings and tips to save money, including coupons.
Guests in waiting: The majestic Queen Wilhelmina’s Lodge in Mena has been closed since March 2012 for an extensive, $7.4 million renovation. Purported problems with the original project contractor have delayed the opening from last December to late 2014. We’ve seen the plans – it’ll be worth the wait.
More To Tour
Cosmic Cavern: The term “show cave” derived because of places like the Cosmic Cavern in Berryhill near the Missouri border. A tour features awesome mineral formations, rare blind cave salamanders and cave trout. Take the pedestrian route or explore in the raw on a wild cave tour. www.cosmiccavern.com
Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center: Arkansas’ varied terrain includes prairie in its timberlands near the Texas border. These low-lying Arkansas blacklands – named for the rich soil supporting hundreds of plant and animal species – are part of the state’s conservation and restoration program to promote the outdoors and good land stewardship. www.agfc.com
Talimena National Scenic Byway: Some say the best time to take this 54-mile detour through the Ouachita Mountains is in autumn, but the drive through eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas is gorgeous year-round and particularly exciting on motorcycle. www.talimenascenicdrive.com
Stay In Style
The Lodge at Mount Magazine: You’ll think you’ve landed somewhere in New England at this modern-rustic resort lodge on the sweeping south bluff of Mount Magazine. With 60 rooms, the Skycrest Restaurant, conference center, indoor swimming pool and fitness amenities, The Lodge is a must-see in all seasons. www.mountmagazinestatepark.com
Beckham Creek Cave Lodge: This isn’t Neanderthal living – the Beckham Creek Cave Lodge is more akin to a bed and breakfast. Excavated out of a rocky hillside, the lodge has a colorful past and is said to have hosted celebrities from Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson to Arnold Schwarzenegger. A heliport makes getting to the secluded accommodations in Parthenon easier. www.beckhamcavelodge.com