Dazzling; vibrant; brilliant; colorful. Those are just a few of the adjectives used to describe that autumnal swing that brings about the stunning canopy of fall colors every year. And Harrison Arkansas is one of the most alluring of locations to spot them.
People have been known to drive hundreds of miles just to see the changing of the leaves around Harrison. But visitors don’t have to leave town to see some of the finest colors in all of Arkansas. There’s Maplewood Cemetery located in the heart of Harrison which hosts over 733 mature maple trees that traditionally show their fall colors during the later part of October. Everyone is welcome to visit Harrison and Maplewood Cemetery anytime during the fall colors season.
There are three scenic drives originating in Harrison that deserve some recognition;
- Leave the Harrison Square heading south on Highway 7. Turn right on Arkansas Highway 43 towards Compton and Ponca. Five miles out of Harrison you’ll climb Gaither Mountain. Be sure and stop at the overlook (on the left) when you reach the summit. This is one of the best views that you will see of the Harrison area. You’ll then pass through Compton and on to Ponca. The three mile descent into Ponca offers spectacular views off the right side of your car. As you pass through Ponca be sure to look for elk in the field just before you turn left on Arkansas Highway 74 and cross the Buffalo National River.
- Once you have negotiated the several switch backs up the mountain, consider the short jaunt (left turn) down to Steel Creek on the Buffalo. If the timing is right, the bluffs across the river should be ablaze with fall color. Head back up the hill and turn left back on Highway 74 towards Jasper. About half way you’ll pass through Low Gap, and a side trip down into this remote Arkansas hamlet should be worth the time. Jasper is the county seat of Newton County, one of Arkansas’ least populated (less than 8,000 residents). Circle the tiny square and head north to Harrison via Scenic Highway 7. You’ll cross the Buffalo again at Pruitt, and the bluff on the left side of the road might just surprise you. Harrison is a short drive from Pruitt. Total miles round trip; 62.
- Take the same route out of Harrison. Five miles passed Compton, turn right on Arkansas 103 towards Osage. When you arrive in Osage, be sure and stop at the Stamps store. It’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. You’ll find it a pleasant stop. After you leave the store, turn right on U.S. 412 and head back to Harrison through Alpena. At the stop sign there, turn right. After three miles turn right on Highway 392 back to Harrison. Just after you pass through Batavia, Pilot’s Knob will be on your right. You’ll come back into Harrison at the square. Total miles round trip; 51.
- Take Highway 7 north from Harrison to Bergman. Just passed Bergman, turn left on Highway 281. After seven miles, turn right on Highway 14 back towards Lead Hill. A left turn in Lead Hill back on Highway 7 will take you to Diamond City on Bull Shoals Lake. Retreat back to Harrison via Highway 7. Total miles round trip; 53.
There is no guarantee on the outcome of the fall colors. The right combination of precipitation and temperatures are key. Before you plan a trip to the Ozarks, call ahead for a report at 870-741-1789 and order your driving guide of the Ozarks that highlights some of the best routes with fabulous scenery. You can also go to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism website and go to the “Things To Do” link for a status report.
There are numerous hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts for overnight accommodations in Harrison, along with many places to eat and shop. Contact the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau at 780-741-1789 or visit their website at for additional information.