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 & bustle of a much bigger city. Locals can have both lifestyles, because NWA is home to multiple Fortune 500 headquarters surrounded by stunning scenery.

Northwest Arkansas is located in the south-central portion of the Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks provide Northwest Arkansas and the surrounding area with its 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 sports – especially biking, running and kayaking – are popular throughout the region. Northwest Arkansas has four distinct, mild seasons, making it easy train or enjoy being outside year-round.

National and State parks such as The Buffalo National River, Hobbs State Park, the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, and Devil’s Den State Park are within a days drive from anywhere in Northwest Arkansas.

It’s more than outdoors though; 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.”

Remember: This is a taste of Northwest Arkansas and not an all-inclusive list. If you are looking to find a club or organization to match your interests but don’t see one listed, please contact us.


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

Finding Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas has an extensive 200-mile trail system that weaves throughout the region from Bella Vista to Fayetteville. It’s a multi-purpose system that features urban trails, cross country, mountain, downhill, technical and now parks as well. According to a recent study, trail usage is as high in Northwest Arkansas as it is San Francisco.

The Razorback Regional Greenway is our area’s longest urban, hard-surface trail, stretching 37 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. It’s path runs through the downtowns of Bentonville, Fayetteville and Springdale. It takes trail users past J.B. Hunt, Procter & Gamble, Walmart and Tyson Foods’ offices.

In addition to hard surface trails, Northwest Arkansas offers several world class soft-surface trails, like Slaughter Pen, Mt. Kessler, and Thunder Chicken. NWA is also home to International Mountain Biking Association Ride Centers. The Ride Center designation is only awarded to those that have “the best the sport has to offer.” Bentonville and Fayetteville are two Ride Center destinations out of only 37 worldwide.

Northwest Arkansas has recently added a technical bike park, named 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 Atlanta area near downtown Rogers. 

NWA hosts cycling events and races including the Square to Square Bike Ride, where participants are invited to bike the Razorback Regional Greenway from the Bentonville Square to the Fayetteville Square. 

For more information on trails, go to Oz Trails or NWA Trails.

Lake Leatherwood | c/o: Blk Elk

IMBA World Summit 2016

Bentonville was selected as the host destination for the 2016 International Mountain Biking World Summit.The event attracts a word-wide audience of leading representatives from mountain bike advocacy groups, land management agencies, and the bicycle industry. The Summit is a time for cycling enthusiasts to share success stories and plan the future of Mountain Biking. The event’s last host destination was Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

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 39th anniversary of the amateur races will take place in 2016, and it’s the 14th anniversary of the USA Cycling Pro Racing Tour occurring in Fayetteville.

The stage 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 and teams from 23 countries will take part.

Finding Community

A wealth of cool local bike shops and bike groups welcome any riders to the more than 50 weekly rides that take place in Northwest Arkansas. Be on the watch for NWA’s Bike Month events that take place every May. To find more information on group rides, biking workshops or festivals, check out the events page at NWA Trails, Bike NWA, or Ozark MTB.

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 near both Springdale and 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 the NWA area, and well worth the day-trip.

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 specifically engineered to create an optimal experience for whitewater paddlers. Weekend afternoons are often 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 right through the city 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 like hiking, climbing, fishing, yoga, and trail running. Of course, we also have plenty family-friendly options as well as dog parks.

Northwest Arkansas parks include Hobbs State Park, an Arkansas State Park 12,000 acres in size, bordering Beaver Lake. Hobbs includes a 32 mile trail for walkers, joggers, hikers and even horse riders.

Mt. Kessler, in Fayetteville, is a local trail system and park area. According to local adventure outfitters, Fayettechill, “Mt. 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 back yard.”

We also enjoy close proximity to Devil’s Den State Park. Devil’s Den is located in an Ozark Forrest, about 45 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.

Devil’s Den is also known for its caving and climbing. According to the park, the longest cave open to the public is Devil’s Den Cave at 550 feet through. There are plenty of natural rock formations which offer great climbing opportunities. Visitors are welcome to camp onsite.

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.

There are dozens of other dog parks, skating parks, community parks and outdoor destinations across the region. For more information on parks across the region, try Arkansas State Parks.

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 to play, all with varying degree of challenge. Some of the regions’ most beautiful courses are located in Bella Vista, a community right outside of Bentonville. Northwest Arkansas has also made a name for itself, with The Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers hosts an annual Northwest Arkansas Championship, a premier LPGA Tour Event featuring 144 of the top female golfers in the world. The tournament was recently named as the best Overall Tournament Experience and best Player Engagement programs of the 2015 LPGA schedule by the Tournament Owner’s Association.

Northwest Arkansas also hosts a pro bass fishing event, the Walmart FLW Bass Fishing Tour. Anglers from all over the world load up their boats and head out on Beaver Lake for this big-stakes bass tournament. Recreationally, the fishing at Beaver Lake, the White River and the Buffalo National River are popular destinations for bass fisherman as well as fly fisherman.  There are fishing opportunities within a quick drives and day trip destinations throughout the region.

Bella Vista | c/o: Marc Henning


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

Northwest Arkansas hosts several 5ks, half-marathons and marathons throughout the year. Because our weather is so agreeable, there is never any downtime for training. Events like the Run Bentonville HalfRun for the Parks, Frozen Toes 15k, the Hero Half 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!

Northwest Arkansas offers some incredible race series. Series include a number of competitive events that range from running, biking, swimming or some combination of the two for all ages. For example, a ladies-only duathlon called “Ladies Du-Fayetteville,” and “Splash and Dash,” a swimming and running race for children, are two popular community events.

For more information on events and races, check out the Bentonville Race Series, the Fayetteville Race Series, and a few more regional races. The event series is in easy way to jump into to the community.

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.

If you prefer trail running, you might look at parks (on this page) for destination ideas. Additionally, the Razorback Greenway and others function as multi-use trails.

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