No matter what you enjoy doing, Arkansas is a great place for a travel nursing assignment. The Natural State is full of stunning scenery and fantastic attractions for travel nurses.
The Northwest region of the state possesses its own unique charm, offering a stunning landscape of rivers, lakes, forests, and the Ozark Mountains – if you’re a travel RN that enjoys the outdoors, Northwest Arkansas is the place for you. It’s also the home of the state’s second-largest city, Fort Smith, a historic and vibrant town located along the banks of the beautiful Arkansas River. Wine lovers will also love the Northwest; it is the state’s top winemaking region, with wineries located in the beautiful rural towns of the region.
Want to discover Northwest Arkansas? Read on for a list of ways to enjoy this lovely area on your next travel assignment!
Hike on the Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail
Are you a nurse that enjoys hiking? You’re in luck! The Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail (OHT) is one of the best long-distance hiking trails in the US. The OHT is also known for its great winter hiking opportunities, which is uncommon for many other trails.
Explore the OHT spans 165 miles, from Lake Fort Smith State Park to the Buffalo National River, through some of the most scenic areas in the majestic Ozark Mountains. The trail passes through several camping grounds. Plus, if you’re a mountain biker, the OHT offers 200 miles of mountain biking trails just waiting to be cruised.
Explore Fort Smith
Located along the Arkansas River, Fort Smith is known as the place “where the New South meets the Old West.” It is the second-largest city in Arkansas, and offers unique architecture, a vibrant culture and arts community, and a “special brand of hospitality.”
You can learn about Fort Smith’s Wild West history at the National Historic Site, which honors the establishment of the first Fort Smith in 1817 and life on the edge of the American frontier. Or, head Downtown to popular Garrison Avenue for great food, shopping, arts and entertainment options.
If you prefer a relaxing excursion outdoors, the Arkansas River Navigation System offers a large area of lovely, tranquil wilderness and riverside scenery – Fort Smith State Park and Devil’s Den State Park are nearby. The area is a popular bird sanctuary and is also perfect for fishing!
Other attractions include the Fort Smith Museum of History, a 1930s electric trolley that offers rides through downtown Fort Smith, train excursions on a vintage Pullman Railcar through the Ozark foothills, and Miss Laura’s Visitors Center – once a famous Old West brothel that is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Make a Splash at Beaver Lake
Need a place to relax and enjoy the water while on assignment? Beaver Lake has been called “the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas.” This man-made reservoir in the Ozark Mountains has nearly 500 miles of shoreline and offers 28,000 acres of space for boating, fishing, and swimming.
Beaver Lake is surrounded by beautiful limestone bluffs, natural caves, and a biologically diverse forest, making it the perfect place for travel nurses that love being near the water.
Have a Blast in Fayetteville
Fayetteville is known as the entertainment capital of Northwest Arkansas. The city has been listed among the top five places to live in the nation and has a warm and welcoming culture. It is also a well-known hub for “foodies,” with dining options that range from elegant farm-to-table restaurants to quirky and delicious food-truck courts.
Check out the Walton Fine Arts Center for world-class events from theatrical plays to concerts. Or soak in the scenery on foot or bike, as Fayetteville offers nearly 100 miles of trails and is the state’s most bike-friendly city.
Around 35 minutes away from Fayetteville near the small town of Gentry is the Wild Wilderness Drive Through Safari. This park provides visitors the ability to observe rare and exotic animals, including Kangaroos, Lemurs, African Lions, Bengal Tigers, and Zebras. There is both a 4-mile drive-through as well as petting parks where you can actually hold and come into contact with these magnificent creatures.
Visit Arkansas Wine Country
Calling all wine-loving travel nurses! According to the state’s official website, Arkansas is the oldest and largest grape juice and wine-producing state in the Southern US, and the Northwest is the top winemaking region of the state. The charming, rural town of Altus is home to six wineries: Post Winery, Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Mount Bethel Winery, Chateau Aux Arc, Dionysys Wine & Brew, and Neumeier Winery.
Although Arkansas isn’t necessarily known for its wine production, many of its wineries have impressive credentials. For example, Chateau Aux Arc is the world’s largest planter of Cynthiana grapes and the largest U.S. Chardonnay vineyard outside California.
Additionally, Altus offers a unique look at Arkansas history and culture. Its winemaking heritage comes from the large number of German-Swiss immigrants that once populated the area. Along with wine, coal mining is also a large part of the town’s history, and a beautiful park in town square features memorials to coal mining and war veterans.
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