Seven miles south of historic Eureka Springs, on scenic Highway 23.
By KD reep
OFFICIAL ATTRACTIONS: Turpentine Creek is one of the largest big cat sanctuaries in the country, with more than 100 exotic cats–lions, cougars, ligers (a cross between a lion and tiger), leopards, tigers–and even bears, in natural habitats where they roam and play.
Visitors can learn of each animal's story and history as they meander through a self-guided tour of the refuge. Student interns also lead guided, half-mile walking tours hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, and trolley tours are available during summer months from
10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
MEET, EAT, RETREAT: Turpentine Creek is an ideal "base camp" for people visiting Eureka Springs and who are seeking unique accommodations. The Zulu Safari Lodge has five cabins, all fully decorated with incredible views of the mountains and each with its own theme corresponding with different regions of Africa. Secluded in a grove of trees, the tree house bungalow is a fun and quaint structure built on stilts about 15 feet from the ground, a perfect escape for those who enjoy sleeping near the treetops. Turpentine Creek also has six RV/tent spots that feature fire circles, a reflecting pond and gazebo, and picnic tables.
BIKE, HIKE & BIRD: Just 20 minutes away, Lake Leatherwood City Park boasts 1,600 acres which includes an 85-acre spring-fed lake. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the park maintains over 21 miles of trails with varying terrains that promise solitude and the beauty of nature. Birders will be delighted to know that Lake Leatherwood City Park is home to more than 120 bird species, from ducks and geese to bald eagles and wild turkeys.
STAND UP & PADDLE: At Beaver Lake, try your hand, er, feet at a cool new way to experience being on the water. Standup paddleboarding (SUP) is a surface watersport where the surfer uses a paddle to move through the water while standing on a surfboard. Intrigued? SUP Outfitters offers rentals, lessons, ECO tours and even SUP Yoga. Check them out at sup-outfitters.com.
Visiting Railway Winery for local wines—have a tasting on the deck that overlooks the vineyard. Enjoying a farm-to-table experience in Eureka Springs—try Fresh for an amazing brunch, and head to The Garden Bistro for a local steak for dinner. Strolling through the Downtown District in Eureka Springs; the entire area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Seeing the works of more than 250 artists in a variety of galleries. Catching a ghost tour at the Crescent Hotel.
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
239 Turpentine Creek Lane,
Eureka Springs, AR 72632 • 479-253-5841