Ozark Nat Forest/ Arkansas Wine Trail

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday, June 13 - We left in the morning around 8 and headed east on interstate 40  crossing into the state of Arkansas.  Beautiful state with everything green but with this green comes with humidity.  It was really hot yesterday, but it was the first time that we really felt the heat because now we are back in the humidity like at home.  Same with Arkansas, another hot day already in the high 80's in the morning with high humidity.

   Stopped at the Arkansas Welcome Station and what a nice stop.  Everything was clean with tons of information to be found inside the building.  The hostess was a great help in giving us material that we needed to visit the state.  The water fountain was so cold and refreshing.  Drove on down the road through Fort Smith. 

  Fort Smith was an important military fort on the Arkansas and Poleau Rivers.  It was known for being the fort where the hanging judge, Isaac C. Parker’s, 21 years on the bench, hung 79 felons.  Outlaws were brought in by a special unit of lawmen sent to the region to clean up the territory.  Later on, Fort Smith was important for the discovery of natural gas and remains today one of the Arkansas’ leading manufacturing cities.  Points of interest – Fort Smith National Historic Site for the importance of the military history, westward expansion and the sad history of being part of the Indian removal along the "Trail of Tears".  The “Trail of Tears” follows along interstate 40 in this part of Arkansas.

  There is also Miss Laura’s Visitors Center – this was a brothel which eventually became one of the most celebrated bordellos in the southwest.  Laura Ziegler owned it and it is still furnished in the furniture of the time.  Names of the women who worked there are still shown.

   We took exit 41 down route 186 to Altus which is the wine capitol of Arkansas.  On this wine trail, we stopped at four wineries which were all different.  Aux Arc was a small one and did not look opened but it was really cute.  We passed by mile after mile of vineyards here and it seems that all the wineries grow their wines at the top of this mountain because down in the valley the vineyards would freeze in the winter.  Stopped at the Wiederkehr Village Winery which has a restaurant, store and wine cellars.  The wine tasting is free in this region and most of the stops we could try as many as we wanted within reason.  My limit is three tastings but not George.  The tour here of their manufacturing plant was very interesting.  Continuing on down the road we passed by the St. Mary’s Catholic Church that was built in 1902 in the Roman Basilical style.  It is known for its paintings and ornate goldleaf work.  Local people were used for models in scenes that depict the Passion of Christ.  Built of native sandstone, the church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In talking to the local people at the vineyards most of the families in the area are Catholic and belong to this church.

   We also stopped at the Post Familie (correct spelling) Winery and the Mt. Bethel Winery.  All of them are within three miles of each other and all are related somehow but may not be speaking to each other.  The wines were good, the atmosphere was great and the history of the region was amazing.  You are in the Ozark Mountains here the old hillbilly stomping grounds and near here is scenic route 7 which is called the “Moonshine Byway”.  We are taking that tomorrow heading down to Hot Springs.  Our last stop at the Mt. Bethel Winery the girl gave us the history of the region and how most of the families had eight kids so all these cousin became involved in making wines.  Her grandmother who had 12 children was arrested in put in the West Virginia Prison for Women during Prohibition for six months.  Years later, she was pardoned by the Governor which most of them were because wine had always been produced here and she could not sell wine if she was a felon.  There is no love of the law here or the inspectors from the state who don’t know what they are doing!!!!!

   This northwest section of Arkansas has so much to do and see.  There are some roads that in an RV we cannot take but we can travel on most of them.  Mountains, lakes, rivers, quaint towns with restaurants and shopping like Eureka Springs which is called the little Switzerland in the Ozarks.  One can find folk music, craft stores, museums, opera, and the Passion Play performed at nights in the summer.  Branson the Live Music Show Capitol is right over the state line and there are river boats that sail through this region.  Hiking, biking, boating, wild rivers, camping and scenic tours can be found throughout the region.

   The name “Ozark” came from French explorers who called the area “Aux Arc” for “big bend”.  That is the name of our campground and it refers to the 19 mile long bend in the Arkansas River here, where the Osage and Cherokee Indians once lived.   At one time over 30 steamboats plied the river and now ocean going ships travel the same waters.  There are stories of the Civil War, bushwhackers and tales of Spanish Treasures.  There are so many state parks, COE parks and wilderness areas.

   Tomorrow we head south on the scenic byway to Hot Springs, AR.  Weather is still hot but sunny and no storms expected!  I would return to Arkansas to explore it more especially their wonderful State Parks. 

Thursday, June 13 -   Aux Arc, Ozark Lake, COE, Ozark, AR

   This is an Army Corp of Engineer campground on Ozark Lake right near the town of Ozark, AR.  There are 60 sites open all year with electric some with 50amp and water hookups.  There is a dump station, showers and restrooms.  Most of the sites sit right on the shoreline and every site has a view.  Sites are shady situated in the tall trees.  The Ozark Lake goes 36 miles along the Arkansas River.  Along the shoreline one can find steep bluffs, tree lined banks, open farmlands and level fields.  You can visit the lock and dam one mile southeast.

This campground is right near the Arkansas Wine Trail along 186 and 64 and the town of Altus which is the Wine Capitol of Arkansas.  Nice area and an easy drive to Hot Springs down the Moonshine Scenic Byway route 7.  There are six COE managed camping areas on Ozark Lake.  Nice overnight at this campground.
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Linda on

Looks beautiful--I always think of Arkansas as being a backward state--and where the Clinton's came from. I'm sure George had plenty of wine--hope you drove, Karen!! Hope you brought a bottle home --some night when we stop over!!

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