By Taylor Owens
Arkansas has been coined “the Natural State,” which is all too fitting considering the fact that the state is home to several different natural features, rivers, and outdoor recreational activities.
Outdoorsmen from all over come to Arkansas to experience the rumbling rivers, impressive mountain biking trails, and hidden areas to rock climb.
If you’re an outdoorsman, you probably know just how rigorous recreating outside can be, and you probably know just how hungry you can feel after a long day in the sun.
Arkansas attracts a smaller crowd of tourists than some destinations and locations, but this just adds to the charm and authenticity of each place you’ll visit within state lines.
Hungry outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen have found Arkansas to be a haven for local food spots and unique locations to recreate in the mountains, rivers, and valleys of the state.
Here are a few of my favorite spots!
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch
Do you like ironic cult movie references? Do you like rock climbing? Have you ever wanted to camp on a ranch in the mountains?
Sprawled across a valley and surrounded by large sandstone bluffs sits Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, located off of Hwy 74 west of Jasper, Arkansas. This remote part of northwest Arkansas holds this ranch amongst the rugged Ozark Mountains.
In the Ozarks
Upon entering the ranch, you will see the Ozarks surrounding you, the rolling meadows dotted with sheep and herding dogs, the Trading Co. on the property, and the thick trees surrounding the property.
Wander your way through the meadows and to the tree line and begin a short hike. About a quarter of a mile in, you will come across freestanding rock formations and walls that are just meant to be climbed.
HCR has gained notoriety as being the perfect place to sport climb because of these rock walls that seem to have grown from the ground up.
Any route is sure to impress, but my personal favorite is the route known as “the Cliffs of Insanity,” which refers to a famous quote by Vizzini, played by actor Wallace Shawn, in the Princess Bride.
HCR has harnesses, shoes, crash pads, and helmets available for rent at the Trading Co. on a first come first serve basis.
Cheap Camping Accommodations
If you’re coming to climb, the Ranch also has a campground so you don’t have to travel far before starting your day’s excursion. During my stay at HCR, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to sit on the bluffs and watch the sun rise over the mountains.
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch offers all of these things for very little out of your pocket. Camping is $5.00 per person per night, and tokens are also available for showers at the Trading Co. for $3.00.
For more information, visit their website.
After a day in the sun, you’ll be sure to work up an appetite. Any good outdoorsman knows that best meal of the day is breakfast. And the best breakfast happens to be just short hop down the road from Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
The Farmer’s Table Café
You won’t want to miss this café during your travels in Arkansas just for the coffee alone!
The Farmer’s Table Café is located in Fayetteville, Arkansas where the endless coffee is by far some of the best drip coffee in the South, and not just because you can have as many cups as you want.
Breakfast of Champions
The breakfast menu has a variety of bowls, omelets, sandwiches, bennies, and pancake dishes that are packed with local ingredients. Breakfast is served from 7 am to 3 pm on Tuesday to Sunday.
A Cozy Atmosphere
Being an outdoorswoman on a budget, I always opt for the traditional breakfast at every early morning eatery because you get everything you need: eggs, bacon, toast, and potatoes.
The Farmer’s Table Café delivered with homey food inside what looked like a small, southern house.
Local Food and Zero Waste
Local is always first at Farmer’s Table, and they work with small sustainable family farms to purchase all of their meats, vegetables, fruits, grains, and many added-value products.
The café is a zero-waste kitchen that believes in minimal food waste, and the property has various on-site gardens that are continually being built.
Pack up your crash pads and climbing shoes and make your way over to this local favorite for a hearty breakfast fit for any hungry outdoor-recreater.
For more information about the cafe and the menu, visit their website.
Taylor Owens is a Tennessee native who is currently calling the Massachusetts Berkshires home. She is passionate about the classics, folk music, and coffee. Taylor spends her days as a ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, paddling plenty of rivers, skiing the slopes, sipping coffee, or on the hunt for the best breakfast.