A city on a twisty road – Eureka Springs, AR

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Eureka Springs

Note:  By the time you read this we’re already in Oklahoma.  We had no internet service for several days while at Devil’s Den State Park near Fayetteville, so we had to settle for hiking and relaxing with no connectivity – but we’re not complaining!

Eureka Springs, ARIt was a good thing we ended up at Eureka Springs when we left Buffalo Point.   We discovered a real Victorian mountain village nestled in the Ozarks.  We usually take the fastest way to get the scoop about a new town – by taking a guided tour.  We heard that one was leaving an hour after we arrived at our campground, so we grabbed our cameras and hopped on a trolley. A long-time local native narrated the story of what made this town a destination, and why the entire downtown district is being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We learned that the city has a colorful and unique history, beginning with over a hundred cold-water springs that the Native Americans believed had healing powers.  Then there was the claim that the estimated 56 miles of stone walls throughout the city are the largest collection of Victorian architecture in the central United States.  Tourism is by far the #1 industry here, and the residents were all very patient as they waited behind the trolley until they were able to pass.

And just as we normally do, after the tour we ventured out on our own to walk around and experience for ourselves what makes this a unique and charming city.  I realize I’ve described other cities we visited that had this same small-town charm, but Eureka is truly unique as you will soon see.

Basin Spring, Eureka Springs

The springs and their crystal-clear water are the claim to fame here

So let’s start with the springs.

The springs at Eureka were said to be miraculous, and their “healing waters” brought thousands of visitors to the city.  To discover what made this place famous for its healing waters, we located several of the flowing springs and pocket parks throughout the city. Most of them are landscaped, and some offered a drinking fountain to quench our thirst and hopefully cure any of our current ailments.  Unfortunately, Steve’s vision didn’t improve at all after he took a long drink.  The latest count of springs remaining within city limits is 63.

Grotto Springs

One of the many landscaped springs  – Grotto Spring

Magnetic Springs

At Magnetic Spring, this tourist took a “dose” of the excellent water

The stone walls – 56 miles of them!

Eureka Springs is a small city built on hills and valleys.  The 56 miles of stone walls were constructed between 1885 and 1910, and they are holding up well after over 100 years. The limestone used was sometimes quarried onsite.  The walls allowed the hills to hold up houses where floors went up or down the slopes as geography demanded.  Even more walls have been constructed during restoration and preservation efforts as tourism has increased.

Homes on the bluff

These folks spend a lot of money and time keeping their homes in excellent condition

The city was even featured on “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”, as they illustrated the oddities of the city and described its “230 winding, twisting streets and rock walls . . . miles and miles of them”.

Stonewalls, Eureka Springs

Twisty streets!

On another day we found that our stroll around the city was a good workout, as we clocked 7 miles going up and down the winding, hilly, twisty narrow streets.  All streets wind around town, and none of them intersect at a 90 degree angle.  This means there are no square blocks in the city, and to top it all there are no traffic lights!  The city was called “Stairstep Town” in 1954, due to its numerous stairways of wood and stone connecting the street levels.  We found several stairways to use as shortcuts to go from one street to another instead of walking up to the next bend.

Harding Stree, Eureka Springs

Another beautifully landscaped street corner near a spring

 

The Little Switzerland of America

The other moniker that Eureka Springs has enjoyed is “The Little Switzerland of America.” While wandering around the streets we noted that they are filled with Victorian-style cottages and manors painstakingly restored and renovated to preserve their elegant past. Some are now converted to B&B’s, but many are still privately owned.  And some have more more than one mailing address due to the geography that dictates a main entrance on more than one street.

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The restoration efforts were obvious, and we learned that most of the work is done by the individual owners, making their homes a labor of love.  Each turn in the road led us to colorful and distinctively lovely “cottages”, as they like to call them here.

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Historic Downtown shopping district

And as usual the historic downtown shopping district was lined with art galleries, shops, restaurants and more.  But you have to be careful walking along the uneven sidewalks or you might have an unpleasant “trip”.

Center Street, Eureka Springs

Center Street

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Spring Street

Uneven sidewalk

If you watched “Ghost Tours” on the Sci Fi Channel, you may have seen that the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel was featured there.  Although we didn’t see the show, the Crescent Hotel was apparently one of those places where they caught a full-bodied apparition on video.  For those who believe in that stuff, stay at this hotel and perhaps you’ll meet their famous ghost “Michael”.  He was a stonemason who fell to his death during the hotel’s construction.  The room he fell into is sometimes booked up several years in advance.

Historic Crescent Hotel

The beautiful Crescent Hotel, a major landmark on top of a hill

Wildlife on the streets!

Well, we didn’t expect to encounter critters as we wandered along the hilly streets.  As I walked down one of them, I felt something strange under my foot, and was horrified to discover I had stepped on a snake!  You can see the injury on him in the picture below.  I felt bad for him, and I hope the poor guy survived.  I almost had a heart attack but came out of it OK.

Snake on the street

See that blister?  I did that!

A molting squirrel was even playing with the deer, who patiently watched us go by.

White Squirrel

Deer

Can you see the three deer in this picture?

Other points of interest we explored

Outside of the city are some attractions worth driving to, and each had its own story to tell.

The wood and glass Thorncrown Chapel is 48 feet tall and has 425 windows covering 6000 square feet in glass.  It sits atop over 100 tons of native stone and colored flagstone.

Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel

Inside of Thorncrown Chapel

Inside the beautiful chapel

Thorncrown Chapel

Our next stop was at Christ of the Ozark, which is located next to where the “Great Passion Play,” is featured in an outdoor auditorium.  The nearby statue stands seven stories high and spans sixty five feet across, and it can be seen from miles away.  My current header shows the Christ of the Ozark statue as viewed from the balcony of the Crescent Hotel.

Christ of the Ozark statue

Christ of the Ozark statue

Hitting the Trails

After all that sightseeing in the city it was time to hit some trails.  At Beaver Dam Lake we followed the steep terrain on a short 2-mile loop at Dogwood Trail.  Since it is fall, the flowering dogwood trees that abound throughout the area were dormant and I could just imagine the blooms in the spring.  On this trail we came across overlooks, beautiful geographic features and one of the largest bluff shelters found on Beaver Lake.

Beaver Dam Lake

Bluff Overhand, Dogwood Trail

Bluff shelter

Next we followed the Beacham Trail at Lake Leatherwood, which is also a bike trail.  A few short hills led us to the Leatherwood dam – this was an easy-peasy hike on a nice warm day.

Finally, I climbed a 100 ft tall tower that was originally used by the Arkansas Forestry Service.  For only a dollar I got a million-dollar view of Eureka Springs and the surrounding area.  Had we stayed two weeks longer, the trees behind me would have transformed into the beautiful autumn foliage that Eureka Springs is also known for.  I was bummed we had to leave, but we will catch the beauty somewhere down the road 😦

Eureka Springs

I took a selfie, as Steve was not with me on this trip

Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs in the middle, and the Crescent Hotel in the distance.

We ended up becoming real fans of Eureka Springs during our stay.  It’s not just a pretty place – there are plenty of things to do here, especially during the fall months.  Be sure to add it to your itinerary if you’re in the area!

 

Next Up:  Fun times with family and friends in Fayetteville, AR



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 thoughts on “A city on a twisty road – Eureka Springs, AR

  1. We haven’t been to Eureka Springs in many years so it was interesting to me to see what you discovered in this quaint city. I love the chapel and the beautiful architecture. We will have to return some day.

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  2. What a lovely little town … except for the snake. It reminds me of a small town we visited before our motorhome days. That a lot of love goes into maintaining the houses is apparent. That Christ statue is similar to the one we saw in Peru, and on some of the LDS temple grounds … until we started traveling more extensively, I thought the one in Rio was the only one.

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  3. Another throwback memory… Devil’s Den State Park! We tent camped there in the early 80’s after we first got married, and I think it rained every day we were there, too. 😀 I remember it was gorgeous. Would love to see Eureka Springs and Christ of the Ozarks someday, as we didn’t make it to those places on that trip. Loved your pictures and learning more about that area.

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  4. Eureka Springs is awesome isn’t it? We have a brief visit last year but there were so many things to see we only spent a couple hours there. You found some awesome gems there, thanks for sharing ideas for our next visit in June!

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    • We could have stayed longer but the park we were in were so full that we had to leave. There are lots to do here, lots.

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  5. What a cool little find. I love those stone walls. I wonder how warm the floors stay for the houses above the wall.

    Christ of the Ozark is awesome. What a beautiful photo from the Hotel.

    Thanks for the great tour. I put this on Pinterest. I hope we can get there next fall when we head back to Texas.

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    • Marsha, this town is really cool. Include it on your list for sure in fact check the schedule for the Passion Play, I heard that is also awesome.

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  6. Friends of ours had told us they enjoyed visiting Eureka Springs and now I know why! We traveled to a different park of Arkansas about the same time you were in the state. We had time restrictions and didn’t get to visit Buffalo River or Eureka Springs.

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    • Ohh…make sure to come back next time, and visit it on the third week of Oct, for fall foliage.

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  7. What a lovely place indeed! Thanks for showing us around Eureka Springs. We’ll be sure to stop there one of these days.

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  8. Looks like a special place to visit. … I do enjoy your tours and comentry about the places you visit. … your photos make me feel like I was there. …

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    • Thanks bulldog, I think being a tourist from your chair is the best way to go, no stress at all.

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  9. What a unique town! I love all the different features. The springs sound so fascinating and all those interesting walls. Not sure I would live on top of that very strange looking wall! Beautiful architecture.

    Poor Mr. Snake. I guess he shouldn’t been in the middle of the sidewalk!

    I would really like to see the chapel. It looks gorgeous.

    Glad you did get an opportunity to get out in to the countryside and hike a little:)

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    • Pam, Eureka Springs is biker friendly too, and I thought you had been this way during your motorcycle days. You would have love all the twist and turns.
      Once inside the chapel you are not allowed to stand around but view the insides from your seats.
      Yes we too were glad we found some trails and happy to follow it even if they were really shorts ones.

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  10. Thanks for a wonderful post packed full of beautiful pictures and interesting facts! For sure it will be on the list if we are in the area!

    I like the new look on your blog…

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    • Gay on your way back to GA be sure to point your MH to Arkansas. Eureka Springs is truly worth a visit.
      I changed my colors every time I post hence the new look. Thank you for noticing.

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  11. What a great tour. I’ve heard people say what a great place it was and know why. What a sweet town. Your pictures were terrific. Thanks so much.

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  12. We did not take the time a coule of years ago and seeing you post sure wish we had. Have not been there sine I was a kid but do remember the uniqueness of the place. Great info & post.

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  13. What a beautiful town! It reminds me a bit of Bisbee with the winding streets. Eric and I would really enjoy exploring as you did. The chapel is uniquely beautiful, too, as is the Christ of the Ozarks. I agree, being there when the fall colors are happening would be perfect. Would that generally be the third week in October?

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    • Laurel, yes the third week of October would have been great for fall foliage. And I think you will like this artsy town, it is pretty unique.

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