Bella Vista is a small town located in northwestern Arkansas. Our RV park here turned out to be more delightful than I had hoped. Located right next to a forest and park, there are a number of trails for walking or biking that go through the woods. A small stream from a spring in the park flows near the RV sites. The Ozark forests are really lovely with a variety of hardwood trees and many rock formations. I took advantage of the chance to walk and hike right from our doorstep; the first place we have stayed with wooded trails to explore.
Perhaps my favorite spot in the Bella Vista area was Tanyard Creek nature trail and an area they call the rapids. I loved the rock formations with the water cascading down.
It would have been neat to see it in the winter and spring when the stream is really running, but was still beautiful now. Upstream was a small waterfall that was at low flow, but still rather pretty.
Bella Vista could be described some what as a planned community with homes situated near a number of lakes, golf courses, parks, bike paths and trails. It is also close to the metropolitan areas of Bentonville, Rogers and Fayetteville with all needed services and shopping. It appeared to me this would be an appealing place to live.
The Ozark mountains cover a fairly large part of southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. I was looking forward to arriving during fall colors, but this year fall was more subdued, less colorful. Mark and I explored nearby Hobbs State Park to see more of the Ozark region. On the visitor center nature trail, we learned about how water has created deep valleys or hollows. An old fashioned washboard in picture above was used as an example.
At Hobbs State Park we hiked a few miles on another trail and got to travel a hollow and around rock formations. The ups and downs gave us a little bit of a workout. It was late afternoon and the forest was alive with light and color.
Limestone bluffs (below) are a common sight in the Ozark region and I found them interesting and fun to explore, especially since some of them are cavelike.
We also took a walk to a historic hollow where the Van Winkle family had one of the most important sawmill operations in 19th century Arkansas. Besides the mill, there was a home and garden and a community consisting of quarters for the workers and slaves. There were other industries such as a gristmill and blacksmith shop. Below is a picture of the foundation remains of the sawmill.
The mill also played an important part during the Civil War. The sawmill cut wood for Confederate soldiers’ housing in 1862 and the grist mill ground corn for the soldiers. Wounded Confederate soldiers were housed here before the mill was destroyed by fire in 1863 and the Van Winkle family was forced to leave their home. Mr. Van Winkle rebuilt the mill after the Civil War and it provided much of the lumber to rebuild northwest Arkansas. The mill finally closed in 1890. The buildings are long since gone with the house dismantled in 1968. Below is a picture of the spot where the house once stood. The grassy area in back of the stone marker was the home site.
I thought it was a shame that the buildings were taken down and the structures not preserved here, but the place did retain an interesting atmosphere. There are sign boards throughout the property explaining where buildings were located with a few foundations remaining. Using the imagination, you could picture what life might have been like in this secluded valley of the Ozarks. Below is a picture of the lovely creek that runs through the property.
I found this bush with colorful berries unusual and something I had not seen before. The berries are a striking purple and hang in clusters. I found out later that this bush is called the American Beautyberry plant and the berries turn a purplish color in fall and winter. It is always fun for me to find and learn about new plants in the wild.
Speaking of mills, one of the favorite destinations in northern Arkansas is War Eagle Mill. There has been a grist mill here since 1832 and has since been destroyed and rebuilt three times. When rebuilt in 1973, the owner built a reproduction of the original mill to preserve the history of grist milling. It is the only working mill in Arkansas and is still powered by a waterwheel.
Inside the mill building, you can watch grains being ground and purchase flour, cornmeal and other grains. The day we visited corn was being ground into meal. There are three floors in the building with the first floor the mill, second floor a gift shop and the third floor a small restaurant. Ham and beans with cornbread are the specialty here. A very large arts and craft fair is held around the mill property each year and was the reason we were unable to get an RV site the weekend before we came. Below is a picture of the mill taken from across the historic one lane steel bridge built in 1907.
Perhaps the favorite place to visit in Bella Vista is the Mildred B. Cooper chapel built as a memorial and incorporated into a forest setting. The architect, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright was introduced to the principle of organic architecture or designing to fit into the environment.
Inside the high ceilinged chapel are many arches and windows looking out onto the forest. I had never seen a chapel like this before and it is amazingly beautiful.
Visitors can come in, sit and enjoy the beauty during the day. When I visited I had the place to myself and could enjoy not only the lovely nature setting but also listen to quiet piano music that plays in the background. The chapel is a popular place for weddings.
There are two other chapels of this type in Arkansas, each located in a different region of the state. I was able to visit another one near Hot Springs. I will be writing about that chapel and our visit to the area in another post.
Thanks for checking in – Special thanks to everyone who has subscribed. Welcome Anacani, welcome John, welcome Julie S. More Arkansas to come! Next post I will be writing about the Walmart Waltons.
Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving!