Did you know that you can actually drive from Havana to Paris? Yes, you can—and with zero water hazards to get in your way. Along the way, you can visit the highest mountain in the state of Arkansas. Take the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway, and you will have all of those delights and more to savor.
Begin in Havana, Arkansas. For those who enjoy seeing traces of the past, there are some advertising “ghost sign” buildings in the town, as well as some crumbling old houses and a cute red brick church. Take Arkansas Route 309; as soon as you are out of town you have a wide open rural scene, with the mountain directly ahead of you. You will wind through Alder Gap, and soon a sign announces you are in the Mount Magazine Management Area of the Ozark National Forest.
You will enjoy the curving ascent toward Mount Magazine State Park. Several small pull offs allow you to have a view. The hairpin switchbacks are a driver’s delight. The forest slopes give way to open meadows and sweeping vistas.
Go left on to Mount Magazine Road at the Greenfield Recreation Area, and follow it to the Mount Magazine Lodge, with its amazing views.
Mount Magazine Lodge is just a decade old. Every room offers a scenic view, and the deluxe rooms also offer a private balcony. From almost every window there is a fantastic view of the Petit Jean Valley. Mount Magazine Lodge also has many hiking trails. Or find your best photo opportunity from the comfort of the terrace’s rocking chairs. Huge timbers and big glass windows are the visual features of the Skycrest Restaurant dining room. At the Lodge there are also cabins you can rent.
From the Lodge, you can take the hiking trail up to the highest point on Mount Magazine, and the highest peak in Arkansas at 2,753 feet. But do not expect views there, it is in a grove of trees.
Not in a hiking mood? No worries. From the Lodge, you can follow roads in the park that take you to overlooks with views of the Arkansas River Valley and the Ozark Mountains to the north, and the Blue Mountain Lake and the Ouachita Mountains to the south.
A photo posted by Matt “Rooster” Martin (@matttat2) on
From Mount Magazine, the byway descends more than 2,300 feet to the town of Paris, passing through the hamlet of Corley. You can also view picturesque Cove Lake on the way. The byway leads through downtown Paris, which played a key role in Arkansas’s former coal mining region. The imposing Logan County Courthouse dominates the town. Look for the Rock House in Paris which is locally famous; visit the Coal Miner Memorial and Museum. Tour the Cowie Wine Cellars and Vineyards.
North of Paris, the byway winds through rolling pastures and fields of hay, stands of hardwood trees and glimpses of natural gas wells. Just before reaching Webb City, the byway passes the entrance to Aux Arc Park, a recreation area on the south shore of the Arkansas River.