2Cooleys.Com logo Sylamore Area Recreation
Scenic Drives, Attractions, Activities, & Services
Between Mountain Home & Mountain View Arkansas
Sylamore Area is Norfork, Calico Rock, Allison, Fifty Six, Sylamore Ozark National Forest, White River, North Fork River, Norfork Lake, Sylamore Creek National Scenic River Corridor, Leatherwood Wilderness Area

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Sylamore Area FAQs

Where Is The Sylamore Ozark National Forest Area?
In the northcentral Arkansas Ozarks, between Mountain Home and Mountain View, Arkansas. It's close to Norfork Lake and the White River, and about an hour from lower Bull Shoals Lake. On maps it's the Sylamore Ranger District of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. The area includes the Leatherwood Wilderness Area, and the North Sylamore Creek National Scenic River Corridor. The small towns of Norfork, Calico Rock, Allison, Fifty Six, and Mountain View Arkansas border the Sylamore National Forest. Sections of private property are intertwined within the Forest.

What's The Sylamore Area Driving Tour Like?
It's a mixture of small town America and National Forest in one of the most scenic areas of the Ozark Mountains. There's 147,000 acres of public forest land mixed in between four small towns. You'll see hill country farms and pastures, forests, rivers, and Norfork Lake. Creeks flow beside paved roads were you can stop to enjoy them. You'll drive past vast tracts of forest. Sprinkled all along the way are historic sites, attractions, cafes and restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations, antique and art stores, and rest rooms. You'll enjoy the right blend of Wild and Creature Comforts.

What Is The Best Way To Enjoy The Sylamore Area?
It depends on how much time you have. If all you want is a quick driving tour, you can run the main tour loop in about 2 hours. From there it depends. Stop for meals, a little shopping, an attraction or two, and before long you've spent a whole day. Not including back road tours, it takes at least two full days to visit everything that is on pavement and not rush it.

What About Sportscar & Motorcycle Groups?
Several sportscar and motorcycle clubs tour this area spring, summer, and fall. There are restaurants and lodging facilities in the area that can handle groups. Performance cars and motorcycles crave these roads, it is what they are made for. A blend of straights, sweeping "S" turns,  and tight downhill and uphill turns combine into several "dragons" and "snakes". Roads are banked in many places. The key to safe driving on these roads is ALWAYS stay in your lane, stay on your side of the road. Crossing into the on-coming traffic lane endangers your life and others.

Combine Outdoor Recreation With Driving Tours
Combine paved roads with back country roads and you get over 45 different road loops. In many locations along the 2Cooleys tour you can stop for a walk in the woods and beside creeks. Hiking trails with numerous trailheads allow for short day hikes to long treks. Old logging roads are all through this area. They are easier to walk down for birding, wildflower walks, and just plain walking than hiking trails. Whether you stick to the paved roads or hit the back country, all of these things are easy to find on our tour.

What Are The Roads Like?
Our paved Sylamore tour comprises a 72  mile loop of smooth paved roads on three Arkansas State Highways. Drive one, or all three highways. They'll all beautiful, especially during fall foliage and during the spring when redbud and dogwood trees are in bloom. You'll experience wide-open views as well as get right up close to hardwood forests. And since there are so many people who enjoy driving the area's forest back country dirt roads, we've included 55 miles of back roading loops.

Dining, Gas, Shopping, & Restrooms
There is no shortage of any of the above. They are all marked on the 2Cooleys Tour Summaries. No matter where you are, back country included, you are never more than an hour from a town. In most locations you are never more than 30 minutes from a town. Along the 2Cooleys main tour loop are some 17 restaurants, 8 little cafes, 14 gas stations, 4 liquor stores, 9 banks with ATMs, 4 pharmacies, 4 grocery stores, and 9 convenience stores. They're all along the border of the Sylamore Ozark National Forest.

What Are The Back Roads Like?
There is a big difference between "back roading" and "off roading". Back roads can be driven in a standard automobile. You don't need four-wheel drive or high clearence. Off roading is done on old logging roads and you very definitely need four wheel drive. Back roading is a lot of fun for most people. You can't drive safely much over 15mph to 20mph. Your car will rattle, bounce, and bump from time to time, but nothing that causes any damage. The back roads are just like back roads all over rural America. These roads are patrolled by law enforcement.

Outdoor Recreation
You can participate in some 16 different outdoor recreation pursuits at several points along the tour. Enjoy 61 miles of mountain bike trails, 54 miles of hiking trails with 12 trailheads, 75 miles of horse trails, or run your ATV. Swim in creeks and the lake. Canoe, fish, and boat in lake or river. Hunt for whitetail, bear, and turkey - all present in good numbers. There's even a nice shooting range with covered shooting benches.

Camping, RV, Lodging
Several campgrounds and RV parks are in the area, as are several small resorts, motels, cabins, and B&Bs. Three creekside campgrounds are inside the Sylamore Creek National Scenic River Corridor. Another is beside Norfork Lake. And still another campground and RV park is beside the North Fork River.

Blanchard Springs Caverns has as much above ground as below ground. In addition to some awesome cave tours, they have camping and RV sites, trout fishing in Mirror lake, hiking trails, mountain bike trail access, swimming, picnic sites, a historic site, and accessible board walks. The Ozark Folk Center has a large store filled with authentic Ozark arts and crafts, a restaurant, a live music center, and some 20 live displays showing how the Ozark Pioneers lived and survived in these tough, rugged hills. You can tour the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, the largest trout hatchery in America.

Historic Sites
Start with the Wolf Settlement, a group of log cabins built in 1829 and still standing. In Calico Rock you can walk around (but not go inside) the Peppersauce Industrial Ghost Town. Calico is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and they have a historic district and a little museum. There are two old fire towers from back in the 1950's before satellites and GPS systems. And if you take the Culp Loop Tour, you'll see off-the-beaten path historic relics.

We're going beyond Walmart and Dollar General, even though those stores are here. By shopping we are referring to true Ozark art and crafts. Pottery, baskets, jewelry, soaps, candles, iron works, paintings, photography, foods, and a long list of other locally hand-made items. You'll find unique gifts here than are very hard to find anywhere else in America. Antique and collectable stores, old-time country stores, even an old-time drug store complete with the old-fashioned soda counter.

Seasonal - What's The Best Time Of Year To Come?
That's a tough decision. Our personal favorite is during fall foliage. Not only can you enjoy great color in a good year, but the weather is cool, not too hot. Fall weather here is typically from mid October through mid December. January and February are our coldest months. The first wildflowers start blooming the last few days of February. Early spring is typically March through April 15. The first trees to bloom are the redbuds followed by the dogwoods. These two blooms are over and trees are nearly fully leafed out by April 15. Our second personal favorite is May and the first two weeks of June. The weather is clear and cool, and everything is incredibly fresh and intensely green. July and August are just plain too hot. This is not the time of year for hiking, biking, etc. It's the time of year to spend out on the lake!

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