Exploration below the Earth
Our next adventure was just another couple of miles away at War Eagle Cavern. What makes the cavern so special is that since it opened to the public for tours in the late 1970s, every effort has been to leave it in its natural, unspoiled state, just as it was when inhabited by the Native Americans centuries ago.
On the property there are plenty of picnic tables set amidst beautiful sky-high trees with views of Beaver Lake, a snack shop (open in season), an area where you can pan for treasure, a fort challenge maze suitable for all ages and gift shop. From the welcome area you can walk amongst the trails to enjoy the natural waterfalls, limestone bluffs and other Ozark attributes, as well as the numerous animals that make this area their home such as groundhogs, wild turkeys, and white-tailed deer, just to name a few.
A Pivotal Civil War Battlefield
Last but certainly not least was our visit to Pea Ridge National Military Park Visitor Center. Coincidentally, our visit was in this, the year of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and the Battle of Pea Ridge is referred to by some as “The Most Decisive Battle in the Trans-Mississippi,” as it played an integral role in that momentous time in history, standing proudly today as the most intact Civil War battlefield in the country.
The Visitor Center here is intriguing, chocked full of newly renovated exhibits and displays detailing not only the more tangible aspects of the battle—the who, where and when—but also a great deal of the “why” and “how,” which had everything to do with the social, political and military climate of the country at the time, pre- and post-Civil War. The Center’s orientation film provides a good overview of this historic era, and those who want to delve deeper will no doubt find numerous subject matters of interest inside of the Center’s Eastern National Bookstore—which reportedly possesses one of the finest Civil War related book selections in the National Park System.
Approximately 100 yards from the Visitor Center is the entrance to the 4,300-acre battlefield, a tribute to the 26,000 soldiers that fought here to determine the destiny of Missouri and the West in the spring of 1862. With nothing but open land as far as the eye can see the area possesses a 7-mile self-guided tour road, 7 miles of hiking trails and 9 miles of horse trails. Dotted along the way for visitors are over two-dozen interpretive signs that detail different aspects of the battle. A significant piece of U.S. history, a stop at Pea Ridge is well worth it.
Walmart, the Crystal Bridges Museum, Historic Sites and Attractions and More
Suffice to say that Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas offered a great deal more than I expected—as the saying goes, “More than meets the eye.” The awe-inspiring Ozark beauty, historically significant town, warm hospitality, world-class museum, outstanding epicurean adventures, fun and historic sites and attractions and noteworthy day trips made it a really wonderful vacation.
To start at Part 1, click here.