Mountain View, Arkansas

Ozark Folk Center State Park

By Monica Issitt

LOCATION: In the heart of the Ozark Mountains, three hours from Fayetteville and two hours from Little Rock.

HISTORY: The "Folk Music Capital of the World" was founded in 1873. The Arkansas Folk Festival began in 1963 and each April finds Mountain View bursting with incredible talent and its accoutrementsóevery folk instrument imaginable. The Ozark Folk Center was created in 1973 and hosts various folk artists and festivals throughout the year but people have also jammed and picked at the square (and in living rooms, on porches, in yards...) from the beginning and they still do, every day. 

OFFICIAL ATTRACTIONS: The Ozark Folk Center is a living history museum set up as a walkable town filled with gift ideas, demonstrations and participatory learning. Watch a blacksmith, carve a spinning top, dip a candle, and learn about Dutch oven cooking or growing heirloom herbs. The park even has a ropes course, Loco Ropes, where participants are led through 30 challenges.

MEET, EAT, RETREAT: If you'd like to stay in the park, Ozark Cabins at Dry Creek are available. The Skillet Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you would rather camp or park an RV, the Ozark RV Park is next door and has primitive sites to full hook-up.

TAKE A HIKE: Moderate to strenuous: North Sylamore Creek Trail is a 15-mile point-to-point (access at Barkshead, Gunner Pool and Blanchard Springs campground) 

JUST FOR FUN: Mirror Lake Trail is a 1.3-mile loop trail with a waterfall and ruins of a mill (just downhill from Blanchard Caverns).

STROLL: Blanchard Springs Trail is a scenic, .25-mile paved trail (at Blanchard Springs Caverns area).

WE RECOMMEND: Stopping in shops like The Dulcimer Shoppe, home of the highest quality, handmade dulcimers in the country, or Mountain View Music where you can view an array of handmade folk instruments. Taking a picnic to the Sylamore Creek Campground. Fishing for trout on the White River.  Taking a cave tour at Blanchard Springs Caverns, a beautiful living cave system, where the more adventurous can don knee pads and take the Wild Cave Tour. Riding on the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail, a technical trail that, along with only 36 other trails in the country, is rated Epic by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

BOOK IT: Ozark Folk Center • 1032 Park Ave., Mountain View, AR 72560 • 870-269-3871 • www.ozarkfolkcenter.com