Traveling Arkansas' Scenic Highway 7: Day 2
Spring Break is a great time to travel to a destination and enjoy experiences with your family. But what do you do when you’re used to travel? For me and my daughter Hunter, it’s time for a road trip.
This week, we’ll be traveling the entire length of Scenic Highway 7, the longest state highway in Arkansas. We’re going to find attractions along the way and share where we went. You can follow us at @TieDyeTravels for live updates.
For our second day, Hunter and I had a good breakfast at our hotel, then hit the road with some tunes. We got out a little late, since Hunter slept in. Our first day wore her out!
Our first stop was the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover. This neat place details the history of oil and brine in the region. A temporary exhibit called Shaping Our World caught Hunter’s immediate attention. She loved the hands-on activities such as the sand wheel and this neat magnetic iron filing activity.
She was very excited about taking the time traveling elevator to the past. On our progress through time, we learned about the different organic creatures that over time became the oil that brought people to Smackover in the 1920s after the discovery of a 68-square mile oil field below the surface.
The little town of 95 people bloomed to more than 12,000 in a very short period of time, and that brought all sorts of troubles. The streets were so muddy and hard to slog through that mules sometimes gave up, fell down and drowned in the mud. So many people came in to seek their fortunes in oil, and others came to run stores, restaurants and hotels to put those people up.
Once you get through the entire oil and timber exhibits, there’s a tinkering station. At first, we wondered what you were supposed to do in the station… but after a few minutes we figured out that the pipes and fittings set out with pegs were to be used to construct marble courses on a wall. We ended up spending 45 minutes just making marble courses. It was a lot of fun--read more about our visit to the museum here.
Al that hard work got us hungry, so we headed north. Right on Highway 7 on the south side of downtown Camden sits the White House Café. It’s the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the entire state of Arkansas. It used to be located right on the rail line that ran by the depot, but the line has been moved and now it’s about a block away.
Hunter immediately took to the really neat looking bar, which was custom-made out of steel when the restaurant was built. I had the plate lunch of chicken fried chicken, PurpleHull peas and macaroni and cheese and she had a corndog and fries. After we ate, we climbed the spiral staircase at the thin end of the restaurant (it’s shaped like a wedge) and looked around the upstairs rooms and the back deck.
We looked around Camden and then started to head north. I noticed that Sandy Beach Recreational Area, where there are usually a lot of daffodils, was under water.
Then we discovered a problem. Scenic Arkansas Highway 7 was flooded! We pulled out our map and started to look for an alternate route. A nice guy with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department saw us stopped and asked if we needed help, and then had us follow him on a loop that took us back around to Highway 7 north of where the flooded section stood. Even with that, water was up to the edge of the road in several places. When you’re out driving any Arkansas highway, be sure to check out IDriveArkansas.com to make sure the roads are clear and safe!
We noticed a lot of things along the way. In particular, there were a lot of daffodils along the road, which made for some very picturesque sights.
I pointed out to Hunter how the Timberlands look. This particular homestead is pretty typical for the area – slightly rolling fields, pine trees, cleared pastureland, barns. Rural sections like this are reminiscent of the Arkansas Delta, and that’s a good description, since these homes are situated on what is essentially the old Ouachita River alluvial plain!
When we got to Arkadelphia, we stopped at the New Highway 7 Park to take a photo of the classic old bridge crossing the Ouachita River. We noticed there was some excavation going on right next to the bridge. There’s another bridge to be built here, but I don’t know the fate of this old beauty right now.
We also passed the Captain Henderson House which is run by Henderson State University. One day I want to drop in. But Hunter wanted to hurry along. I found out why later.
Just under Interstate 30 in Caddo Valley, we spotted the Front Porch Bakery. The neat little house isn’t so little on the inside! It’s full of antiques, t-shirts, all sorts of things. And of course it’s full of baked goods. We had to make sure to get a couple of apple fried pies and some snickerdoodles to take with us.
Hunter really liked the wind chimes out front. There must have been two or three dozen of them, and it was cacophonous there.
Hunter was very excited to reach our destination for the evening, DeGray Lake Resort State Park. It’s located on a peninsula on the lake, and as we drove out there I pointed out the marina and the horseback rides and the golf course. But Hunter had just one thing in mind, and fortunately…
It was open -- the swimming pool was actually open! It’s a heated swimming pool, too. Hunter was so excited to hear it was open that she insisted we get into our bathing suits and go enjoy the pool right off the bat.
Once we got out of the pool, we got dressed for dinner. We went down to The Fish Net, a seafood restaurant. Hunter filled up on these amazing little hush puppies. She must have eaten a couple of dozen of them.
Before we got there, though, we had to stop at the Corps of Engineers park on DeGray Lake so we could catch the sunset. It was another good day. It was such a good day that, even though she kept protesting that she was wide awake, she fell asleep so quickly when we got back to our room that she didn’t even get into her pajamas.
Today we’re going to enjoy DeGray Lake Resort State Park a bit more before heading to Hot Springs and MidAmerica Science Museum.
If you’d like to read more about our adventures, feel free to check out my blog, Tie Dye Travels; and follow our spring break Highway 7 travels all week here with Little Rock Family!