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Fall Foliage in the Ozarks

Every year we like to do at least one trip for fall foliage.  In 2020 we visited Colorado for the golden aspens, in 2019 we tried for the Ozark Mountains but were past peak. In 2018 we visited New England and drove around the White Mountains and Acadia National Park.  In 2017 we ended up in Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, though I can’t say we found much foliage in either.  In 2016 we visited the Blue Ridge Mountains & Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.

We’ve been on a road trip kick recently (a combination of covid precautions and not wanting to deal with two kids on an airplane) so for this year’s trip we mulled over a variety of road trip options including the Ozark Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains and Southern Great Lakes region with possible itineraries ranging from 1-3 weeks, including an ambitious loop which included all of these regions.  In the end we decided to let the Ozarks try to redeem themselves from our 2019 fail foliage trip and see if we could hit peak color this year.

On our 2019 Ozark autumn trip we had decided to do a mini-road trip through the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks for fall foliage and possibly loop up through Southern Illinois on our return.  We had a date picked based off previous years foliage, but as we got closer to our intended trip date it became pretty clear we were going to be too late for peak foliage.  Since we had already set aside these particular dates for travel, we set out on our journey anyway, stopping in Tulsa (OK), Little Rock (AR) and Eureka Springs (AR) before confirming that we were definitely past peak foliage for the Ozark Mountains region and rerouted to Caddo Lake (TX) instead.

This year we had more flexibility for changing dates so we were able to adjust dates right up until our departure date.  Instead of a crazy open-ended multiple week trip, we decided on a concise one week trip with three lodging stops: Eureka Springs (AR), Van Buren (MO) and Ponca (AR) so we could visit both the Ozark National Forest/Buffalo National River region as well as check out the Ozark National Scenic Riverways park for our slow ongoing quest to visit all the parks from the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful National Park coin series (we were a lot more efficient before we had kids!  Ha!)

Here’s the individual posts for our 2021 Ozarks Fall Foliage trip:

Eureka Springs, AR

Wanderings through downtown Eureka Springs, Beaver Lake and a visit to Thorncrown Chapel.

Van Buren & Eminence, MO

A quick drive around the Ozark National Scenic Riverway near Van Buren and Eminence.

Ponca, AR

Hiking around the Ozark National Forest and exploring the Buffalo National River.

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