A travel journal
to Eureka Springs by jwdorris
Quote: Eureka Springs is a quaint town nestled in northwest Arkansas. It has a charming atmosphere with old Victorian-style homes that have become bed-and-breakfasts, tour homes, and restaurants that make it a great place for a romantic weekend getaway. Fun activities abound in and around the town.
Eureka Springs is one of the area’s best-kept tourist secrets. Although it has thousands of visitors each year, it is not nearly as crowded as nearby Branson and offers many of the same types of attractions. There are music shows that are as good as many of the shows in Branson for a fraction of the cost and without the crowds. Probably the biggest draw for the area is the Great Passion Play, an impressive 2-hour live presentation of the last week in the life of Christ that runs from April until the end of October. The Passion Play grounds have shops, a Bible museum, a replica of Jerusalem in the day of Christ, and a massive statue, The Christ of the Ozarks statue that overlooks the town.
The entire downtown area has become a shopping area with hundreds of shops selling gift items and handmade crafts as well as original works of art. Items for sale include handmade quilts, paintings, and sculptures. There are also several good restaurants and nightspots downtown.
The town is known for its concentration of Victorian homes, many of which have been converted to tour homes where you can see the beautifully restored homes. Others have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts, and a few were turned into restaurants. There is also a more unique and unusual home open for tours called Quigley’s Castle that is worth one visit.
For the kids there is mini golf, game arcades, and go-carts. Nearby Beaver Lake has several marinas with boats and jet skis for rent. There are several caves in the area that offer tours. Dinosaur Land, with life-size dinosaur replicas, is supposed to be fun for the kids.
Most of the hotels, restaurants, and attractions have displays of brochures for the other attractions in and around town and can be a great source for planning activities while here. Another great source of information is to simply ask the locals. The people who work in the shops are often the people who own them, and they are friendly and helpful. If you want to know what area attractions are worth the time and money, just ask; we’ve always found the people to be friendly and helpful.
Boats, jet skis, and water "toys" are available for rent at nearby Beaver Lake.
With the issues of parking, traffic, and steep sidewalks, the absolute best way to get around is to ride the trolley. For .50 per day, you get unlimited rides for the day. Leave your car at the hotel and ride the trolley; it goes to nearly all the attractions, restaurants, and hotels. Trolleys are clearly marked with color-coded routes, and route maps are available free at all hotels and most attractions. I highly recommend the trolley system as the way to get around.
The visitors’ center is a great place to start your tour of the battlefield. A small museum displays uniforms and weapons of the type used in the battle of Pea Ridge. Displays interpret the main points of the battle and aid in understanding what happened here in 1862. An excellent thirty-minute film made from the viewpoint of an old soldier who returned to years later to the site of the battle he fought in as a young man, provides a historical overview of the battle and it’s importance in the American Civil War. A well-stocked bookstore contains books about the Civil War and National Park System and sites. The Visitor’s Center is where you pay the usage fee that allows the National Park Service to maintain the battlefield and it’s facilities. The fee is small, $5 per car load for a 7 day pass, $15 for an annual pass to this park, or the best value for those who like to visit sites managed by America’s National Park Service, is an annual pass to all of the nearly 400 National Park sites for $50.
There is a seven-mile, self-guided loop road through the park. A brochure available free with payment of the admission fee, lists the stops along the tour road and describes the events that occurred there during the battle. The bookstore sells taped tour guides that are a good way to learn more about the battle as you experience the park.
When we visited Pea Ridge on March 6, we had no idea that March 7 was the 143rd anniversary of the battle. To celebrate the anniversary of the battle, re-enactors were encamped at Elkhorn Tavern. These men, dressed in period uniforms and armed with weapons of the civil war, talked about what it was like to live in a civil war army encampment and what it was like to be involved in the battle for Pea Ridge. Their stories of suffering and hardship lead me to wonder if the people of our generation could survive such difficult conditions.
As you walk the trails and drive the roads of the battlefield, you can almost feel the ghosts of the men who gave their lives here in defense of what they believed was right. This battlefield is a special place that preserves the memory of the brave men who fought and died to preserve the ideals of American freedom.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2005
Pea Ridge National Military Park
West Highway 62
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Fair Grove, Missouri