Finding NWA - Outdoor Recreation & Parks

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Devil's Den | c/o: Blk Elk

Northwest Arkansas is part outdoor adventurer’s dream, part hustle and bustle of a much bigger community. Locals can have both lifestyles because NWA is home to Fortune 500 headquarters surrounded by stunning scenery.

Northwest Arkansas is located in the Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks provide hilly terrain and forests that make for a breathtaking, natural setting. The combination of a beautiful natural setting and an agreeable climate make the region popular with adventurers.

Outdoor activities — especially mountain biking, running and kayaking — are popular throughout the region. Northwest Arkansas has four distinct seasons, making it easy to enjoy the outdoors just about all the time.

National, state and local parks such as The Buffalo National River, Hobbs State Park, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, and Devil’s Den State Park are all nearby. Sometimes you’ll drive an hour to get there, but a place like the botanical garden is within 30 minutes of just about every person in Benton and Washington counties.

Northwest Arkansas is home to a world-class American art museum, restaurants, shopping, craft breweries, cultural and family festivals.

Conde Nast Publications described Northwest Arkansas as having “top-notch independent design shops, passionately supported by local vendors.”


Northwest Arkansas is an internationally recognized, four-season cycling and mountain biking destination.

Finding Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas has an extensive trail system, including 218 miles of soft-surface trails and more than 131 miles of paved trails that allow cyclists, runners and pedestrians to cover major distances if they wish from Bella Vista to Fayetteville.

The Razorback Regional Greenway is our area’s longest urban, hard-surface trail, stretching more than 35 miles as it winds its way from Bella Vista to Fayetteville. The Greenway links together dozens of popular community hubs, seven cities, elementary schools and the University of Arkansas.

The Greenway makes it possible for many people to safely bike to work and school. Its path runs through the downtowns of Bentonville, Fayetteville and Springdale. It takes trail users near the work locations for J.B. Hunt, Procter & Gamble, Walmart and and a Tyson Foods technology hub in downtown Springdale.

In addition to hard surface trails, Northwest Arkansas offers several world class soft-surface trails, like Slaughter Pen and Mount Kessler.

In 2015, Northwest Arkansas added a technical bike park called The Railyard. The Railyard is a natural surface bike park with elements that allow riders of any skill level to enjoy the park. It’s connected to a paved trail that leads to the Lake Atalanta and both The Railyard and lake are near downtown Rogers.

NWA hosts cycling races such as the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville and the twice-a-year Square to Square Bike Ride where participants are invited to bike the Razorback Regional Greenway from the Bentonville Square to the Fayetteville Square.

Lake Leatherwood | c/o: Blk Elk

Slaughter Pen Jam

Slaughter Pen Jam is a three-day cycling festival that occurs each fall. The events include Friday evening BMX-focused activities on the Bentonville Square that’ll be attended by more than 3,000 spectators and riders. Saturday includes live music, guided rides, food, vendors and other fun. The action is most serious on Sunday when the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series Race takes place.

Joe Martin Stage Race

Northwest Arkansas is home to a pro race called the Joe Martin Stage Race.

The race is part of the USAC Pro Racing Tour, which is the pro and elite amateur cycling tour of USA Cycling, and the UCI America Tour. More than 750 cyclists take part.

Finding Community

A wealth of cool local bike shops and bike groups welcome riders to the more than 50 weekly rides that take place in Northwest Arkansas.

Slaughter Pen Jam | c/o: Scott Schroen

Lakes & Rivers

Northwest Arkansas is close to kayaking, floating, boating and angling opportunities for all skill levels.

Most Northwest Arkansans live within 20 minutes of Beaver Lake, which is just to the east of Rogers. The lake is a popular day trip destination for boating, fishing, and water skiing.

The Buffalo National River is known for its natural beauty as well as its challenging kayaking in the spring, and lazy, family-friendly floating in the summer. There are great camping and hiking trails to take advantage of as well. The Buffalo is approximately an hour and a half away from NWA.

Seven Bella Vista lakes and the Siloam Springs Kayak Park are available at no cost to those who enjoy kayaking, canoeing or floating. The kayak park was engineered to create an optimal experience for whitewater paddlers. Weekend afternoons in the summertime are busy with tubers and families.

Situated on the northern edge of Fayetteville is Lake Fayetteville and the surrounding 640-acre city park. It offers great recreational opportunities: boating, fishing, mountain biking, softball, volleyball, hiking and picnicking. The Razorback Regional Greenway cuts through the park, and across the Lake Fayetteville dam. Park amenities include a boat dock, accessible fishing piers, and pavilions.

Devils Den | Photo: Blk Elk
Beaver Lake | Photo: Blk Elk


Regional, State and National Parks

Northwest Arkansas parks offer activities such as hiking, climbing, fishing and trail running.

Northwest Arkansas parks include Hobbs State Park, an Arkansas State Park covering 12,000 acres that butts up against Beaver Lake. Hobbs includes a 32-mile trail for walkers, joggers, hikers and even horse riders.

Mount Kessler, in Fayetteville, is a local trail system and park area. According to local adventure outfitters Fayettechill, “Mount Kessler’s greenway trails have enough technical features to entertain even the most experienced of outdoor explorers. Hikers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, and trail runners alike all have endless opportunities for new experiences on the routes – and it’s all in Fayetteville’s backyard.”

The region also benefits from close proximity to Devil’s Den State Park. Devil’s Den is located near the Winslow community that’s about 30 minutes south of Fayetteville.

Hiking, trail running, backpacking, and mountain bike trails lead to backcountry areas in the park and the surrounding Ozark National Forest as well.

A little further from Northwest Arkansas, but still in the day-trip range is the Buffalo National River. The Buffalo River offers 135 miles of floating or kayaking options as well as backpacking trails and camping.

The Castle at Wilson Park | Photo: Sarah Fortune Gill

Wilson Park has always been one of my favorite things about Fayetteville. There’s swimming in the city pool, picnics in the grass, playgrounds for the kiddos, exploring the creek, countless birthday parties to attend, walking the trail…

Sarah Fortune Gill

Kings Falls, Devils Den | c/o: Blk Elk

Golf & Fishing

Fly Fishing at the Buffalo River | c/o: Blk Elk

Northwest Arkansas has over 30 golf courses. Some of the regions’ most beautiful are located in Bella Vista, a community right outside of Bentonville. Northwest Arkansas made a name for itself with The Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers hosting the annual Northwest Arkansas Championship, a premier LPGA Tour Event featuring many of the world’s top golfers.

Fishing opportunities abound whether it’s just for a quick trip to a nearby small lake or creek, or whether you’re looking for a more involved all-day affair. Several Northwest Arkansas cities have small lakes, including Lake Sequoyah in Fayetteville, Lake Springdale, Lake Bentonville and Lake Atalanta in Rogers. But there are bigger adventures to be had a Beaver Lake, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake dammed in the 1960s. It’s by far the region’s largest lake and the region’s drinking water supply.

Bella Vista | c/o: Marc Henning


Trail Running at Devil's Den | c/o: Blk Elk

Northwest Arkansas hosts several 5-, 10- and 15-kilometer runs, half-marathons and marathons each year. Events such as the Run Bentonville Half, Fayetteville’s Run for the Parks, Frozen Toes 15k and the Hogeye Marathon are all produced by groups or community members from Northwest Arkansas. They’ve become community staples with high levels of participation and a lot of spectators!

Don’t feel like you have to go it alone when you’re training. There are quite a few NWA running groups that meet to train and go on social group runs as well. These groups are an easy-access point for getting involved in the local running community. They welcome community members to join, and offer multiple skill-level runs throughout each week. A few we might recommend are the Mustache Running Club and Rush Running.


NWA Championship Week | c/o: NWA Championship Week
Race at Devil's Den | c/o: Northwest Arkansas Council