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Arkansas > Ouachita National Forest
Destination Locator: (21 options)

Ouachita National Forest

Caddo Ranger District- The Caddo Ranger District is located at the southern end of the Ouachita National Forest. The area offers several picnic areas, campgrounds and long trails.
Choctaw Ranger District- The Choctaw Ranger District is located at the west end of the Ouachita National Forest, south of Heavener, Oklahoma. The area offers visitors a multitude of recreational activities.
Cold Springs Ranger District- The Cold Springs Ranger District is located at the north end of the Ouachita National Forest, just south of Cold Springs, Arkansas. The area offers a multitude of recreational attractions including Knopper's Ford and Jack Creek campgrounds the Dry Creek Wilderness.
Fourche Ranger District- The Fourche Ranger District is located at the northern end of the Ouachita National Forest, around the city of Danville. The area offers visitors a multitude of recreational activities, including access to MT. Magazine Scenic Byway.
Jessieville Ranger District- The Jessieville Ranger District is located at the eastern end of the Ouachita National Forest, north of Lake Ouachita. The District includes two campgrounds, several trails and the Scenic 7 Scenic Byway.
Kiamichi Ranger District- The Kiamichi Ranger District is located at the western end of the Ouachita National Forest, in eastern Oklahoma. The area offers numerous recreation and scenic areas including the Upper Kiamichi River Wilderness.
Mena Ranger District- The Mena Ranger District is located near the center of the Ouachita National Forest, around the town of Mena, Arkansas. The area offers access to both the Black Fork and Caney Creek Wilderness Areas among other attractions.
Oden Ranger District- The Oden Ranger District is located in the center of the Ouachita National Forest, just north of the Ouachita River and northwest of Ouachita Lake. The area offers campgrounds, trails, and several float camps along the Ouachita River.
Poteau Ranger District- The Poteau Ranger District is located toward the northwest end of the Ouachita National Forest, around the town of Waldron, Arkansas. The area offers a variety of recreational activities and encompasses the Poteau Mountain Wilderness.
Tiak Ranger District- The Tiak Ranger District lies south from the remainder of the Ouachita National Forest in the very southeast corner of Oklahoma, near the town of Idabel. The district has two day use recreation areas.
Winona Ranger District- The Winona Ranger District sits at the northeast end of the Ouachita National Forest, just southwest of Perryville, Arkansas. It offers a campground, lakes, trails and a scenic byway.
Womble Ranger District- The Womble Ranger District is located in the south-central portion of Ouachita National Forest, around the town of Mt. Ida and Lake Ouachita. The area offers campgrounds, picnic grounds, lakes and trails.

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General Information

Talimena Scenic Byway, Ouachita National Forest
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Talimena Scenic Byway, Ouachita National Forest
Description - The Ouachita National Forest is named for the Ouachita Mountains, which stretch from near the center of Arkansas to southeast Oklahoma. Numerous rivers and streams provide for excellent fishing and floating. Some of the most popular float streams are the Ouachita River and the two designated Wild and Scenic Rivers on the Forest, the Cossatot and Little Missouri. Part of the forest in eastern Oklahoma has been designated as the Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area (NRA). The NRA lies on either side of the Talimena Scenic Byway and contains a 90-acre lake, over 150 campsites, interpretive sites, hiking trails, the Robert S. Kerr Memorial Arboretum and Botanical Area, and one of the best equestrian trail systems and camping facilities in the nation.

The Ouachita has two designated national forest scenic byways, Scenic 7 Byway in Arkansas and Talimena Scenic Byway in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Arkansas State Highway 7 runs from the Louisiana State line near El Dorado, Arkansas to Diamond City, Arkansas near the Missouri State Line. Distinctive mountain scenery and outstanding fall colors can be enjoyed while traveling through the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains on the Scenic 7 Byway. There are numerous recreation areas providing opportunities to camp, hike, mountain bike, canoe, and ride horses along or within a few miles of the highway.

The Talimena Scenic Byway falls gently like a ribbon over Winding Stair and Rich Mountains. One panorama follows another as this National Forest Scenic Byway winds along forested mountain tops between Mena, Arkansas and Talihina, Oklahoma. Visit Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas and the Talihena State Park in Oklahoma as well as the Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area which surrounds the byway in Oklahoma.

Natural scenery and solitude are found in the six designated Wilderness Areas, the Flatside, Blackfork Mountain, Dry Creek, Poteau Mountain, Caney Creek, and Upper Kiamiche River Wildernesses.

Recreation - The Ouchita offers visitors a myriad of opportunities for either 1-day trips or extended vacations filled with relaxation and enjoyment. Camping, hiking, fishing, rafting, horseback riding, scenic driving, boating, and mountain biking are some of the most popular activities on the Forest. There are 35 developed recreation areas, 7 scenic areas, 43 vistas, 5 float camps, 11 shooting ranges, 2 historical sites, 6 wildernesses, 1 national recreation area, and over 700 miles of trails.

Most of the developed recreation areas are open from April through September, however, selected areas remain open year-round. Several campgrounds on the Forest provide water and electric hookups.

The trails system includes trails and related facilities for hiking, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), mountain biking, interpretive, and equestrian. Hiking and interpretive trails range in lengths of less than 1 mile up to the 192 mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which traverses the entire forest from west to east. One of the most popular trails for mountain biking is the Womble Trail, a 31 mile single-track trail. Wolf Pen Gap is a popular trail for ATV riders.

Climate - Arkansas experiences relatively mild winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The area can offer snow-free outdoor recreation opportunities during the winter months. Be prepared however, for occasional cold weather during the winter, especially at the higher elevations of the Forests.

Location - The Ouachita National Forest is located in west central Arkansas and southeast Oklahoma, directly west of Little Rock, Arkansas. The Ouachita is headquartered in Little Rock, and has District Offices located in Glenwood, Booneville, Danville, Jessieville, Mena, Oden, Waldron, Perryville and Mount Ida, Arkansas, as well as Heavener, Talihina and Idabel, Oklahoma. Information on the Forest can be obtained from any of these offices, the Hot Springs Visitor Center in downtown Hot Springs, or
the visitor information stations at either end of the Talimena Scenic Byway.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Ryan Edward (Dallas, Tx)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: My girlfriend and I have camped in Beavers Bend park off and on for about two years now. Normally it is fairly secluded, you can spend a day to yourself without rubbing elbows too much around you. Well, we happened to be there one weekend that was also a spring break weekend in Oklahoma, and the park was a little too crowded for my liking. I had always known that the Ouchita National Forest was just north of the park, so we packed lunch and a few things in the back of the truck, ate a little bit for breakfast and headed north. I couldn't really tell you exactly where we went in to the forest, we just took the highway north. We passed a lot of marked Park Roads (they all have numbers and signs at the junction with the highway). I picked one, took a right hand turn and we were on our way. Now, I want to warn you; These roads are maintained, and really are excellent for back-country roads. But, the road we took looked like it hadn't seen another set of tires in two months or longer. In places the pines grow very close to the road, and the clearance is narrow. Expect a few scratches on a full-size pickup truck. There were also a number of places that small pines had blown over the road, and we had to lift a number of dead-falls to keep truckin'. Now that I got that out of the way, here is the good part. We drove probably two hours down this set of roads, deep into the ouchita mountains. When we stopped about 11:00 for lunch, we were in one of the most beautiful, secluded valleys I have seen, and barely 3 and a half hours from the DFW metroplex. Where we stopped, a small stream wound its way through a shady, moss-covered, boulder strewn cleft in the hills to meet a slighty larger, even more scenic valley with a trickling stream that dropped over worn river rocks into small pools of crytal clear water teeming with small fish and waterbugs. Do I sound impressed ? I sure was. We spent the better part of five hours hiking up and down those two streams and among the boulders and hillsides. It felt like we owned that piece of the mountains. In all the time that we spent that day, we saw no one at all past the highway. There was no noise pollution, no trash on the ground, not even a footprint or any trace that others had been there past the maintained roads. So, if you are looking for a little untouched mountainside that you can call your own, even for a day, try spending an afternoon in the Ouchita National Forest, you won't be dissappointed.

More Information

Contact Information:
Ouachita National Forest, Federal Building,, P.O. Box 1270, , Hot Springs., AR, 71902, Phone: 501-321-5202

Additional Information:
Arkansas National Forests and Parks - Arkansas National Forests and Parks comprise the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, the Ouachita National Forest, Hot Springs National Park, Fort Smith National Historic Site, and Pea Ridge National Military Park.
Arkansas River Valley Region - Arkansas River Valley Region is a scenic river valley between the Ozark and Ouachita Mountain Ranges.
Ouachita Mountains Region - Mountainous terrain and numerous streams and lakes offer plenty of activities in the Ouachita Mountains Region.

Ouachita National Forest - Official agency website.


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