Flowering trees, rolling hills, free-flowing rivers—it’s no secret that Arkansas and Missouri are blessed with beautiful scenery. For your next outing, explore some of the state symbols that make the region unique.
It’s easy to see why Arkansas is the “Natural State”; it is home to 52 state parks, three national forests and five national parks, along with the country’s first National River, the Buffalo National River. Along the river’s over 130 miles, you’ll find raging rapids, calm pools, grassy banks and steep bluffs, plus all manner of wildlife—and not a dam in sight. This is your perfect destination for good times: Fishing, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding and even spelunking. With 100 miles of maintained trails, the river plays host to 800,000 tourists each year. The Tyler Bend Visitor Center is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For directions and details on all there is to see and do, go to www.nps.gov/buff/index.htm.
Did you know Arkansas’ official flower is the apple blossom? It was adopted by the state in 1901. The apple blossom ultimately won out over the passionflower, largely because apples were a major cash crop in Arkansas at the turn of the century. Today, the state produces approximately 250,000 bushels of apples each year, reason enough for celebration at the annual Arkansas Apple Festival in Lincoln on the first weekend of October. While the trees are not in bloom during the fall, their fruit takes center stage from September 30 through October 2, 2011. Enjoy fresh cider, country and bluegrass music, arts and crafts and an old-fashioned parade. Lincoln is located just 20 miles southwest of Fayetteville in the heart of the Ozarks; sweeping hills that come alive come spring with a sea of pink and white apple blossoms. Information on the Arkansas Apple Festival is available at www.arkansasapplefestival.org.
While Arkansas’ official flower grows on trees, in Missouri, the state tree is famous for its flowers! The flowering dogwood has represented the state since 1955, and they put on a tremendous show each spring. But don’t wait until the seasons change to learn more about dogwoods and other species native to the “Show Me State”; th
roughout September, the Missouri Botanical Garden
in St. Louis is hosting “TREEmendous! The Great St. Louis Tree Hunt.” Get clues and helpful information about the variety of trees you’ll see citywide, then return your completed Tree Hunt Journal to the Missouri Botanical Garden for a prize. Get details at www.mobot.org/treemendous/treehunt/default.asp, and be sure to get number 18 right!
Missouri boasts a wealth of natural beauty underfoot as well, and a visit to the Missouri Mines Historic Site will prove just that. The Ozarks earned their reputation as “the lead belt” long ago with a heritage of mining that dates back to the 1700s. Today, the former St. Joe Lead Company in Park Hills is finding new life as a museum on mining history with machinery and an expansive mineral collection displayed in a 19,000 square foot Powerhouse built in 1907. Here, you’re sure to see samples of the official state mineral, galena. Get more information at www.mostateparks.com/park/missouri-mines-state-historic-site.
For even more inspiration for getaway fun, take a look at the symbols of all 50 states at www.statesymbolsusa.org.