Goodmans ride Arkansas Ozarks and Talimena June 2020

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Pressing on
May 18, 2012
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Hopkinsville, KY
Tammy and I had a week off due to COVID closures at work June 13-20, so we worked out a visit with family and 4 days of riding in Arkansas.  We’ve been through the Ozarks a couple times but have never been down to the Talimena scenic drive, so that was a key stop in our plans. I’ve torn a tendon or something in my right hand so pain made me go lighter on the miles than usual.  I didn’t argue with her this time about taking the FJR instead of the Goldwing because I knew I couldn’t do without the cruise control.

I took off early on Friday afternoon and drove a hot 390 miles to my sister’s in Nixa, MO while Tammy drove with our daughter in the car.  I like crossing the Ohio and Mississippi, but the Mississippi bridge near Cairo seems to always have construction.  It was no fun waiting on the bridge for several minutes in the over 90 degree heat.

Leaving my sister’s Saturday morning:


The pictures in this trip report are weighted heavy on the road pics, but the Ozarks are about the roads much more than scenery.  Hopefully they can give you a feel for the area or help you reminisce about some great times on them.

There were a lot of good sweepers down 76 and 86 to Eureka Springs


We drove around Eureka Springs and the traffic was pretty bad.  Google maps said the Beaver bridge was open which I wanted to drive across, but I called a business in the area and was informed it was actually closed until at least the first of July, so we didn’t go up in that area.


My butler map encouraged me to try 62 just NW of Eureka Springs.  That short section is a good road!  If we hadn’t had traffic it would’ve been great.  We did some maneuvering and had a mile of it to ourselves.



We had an odd interaction as we headed down 23 which becomes the Pig Trail. At a stop sign we came up on a couple on a Harley behind a sport bike.  I don’t know if the sport bike had crowded the couple earlier, but I pulled up a full bike length away from them and he started cussing me out and acted crazy. He cussed a lot more when I blew by him at the first passing lane, but I was glad to avoid some brewing road rage.  He didn’t look like a typical Harley rider and had no gear.  I’m sure he was a beginner (or was insane) but it still bummed me out because I like to get along well with all types of riders on the road.  

Here is AR 23, the Pig Trail.  It’s a good road but never has been my favorite in the area


We then took 215 over to Oark General Store for some pie.  I love this little store / diner.  I first found it with my nephew due to a recommendation from this forum.



AR103 from Oark to Clarksville is a nice twisty road. We stopped in Clarksville for the night.


Early Sunday we drove over to Poteau, OK and down 271 to catch the Talimena Scenic Byway.  Tam and I discussed her comfort level and as usual, she is more nervous on the sweepers than she is the tight twisties.  Some of that is because she has the camera out taking pictures on the twisties, but I think more of it is the speed.  Taking a 55 mph sweeper at 60+ is not nearly as tense for me as a signed 30 mph curve at 45+, but it is the opposite for her.  To me, the best thing about most of the Ozarks is the many sweepers you can take at good speed.  We have 33 years of practice arguing, so we did some of that.  However, I was very thankful I wasn’t speeding when we almost hit the deer on Wednesday (more to come on that…)


The Talimena reminded us of the Blueridge Parkway with better speed limits.  Nice scenery.  I can imagine it’s beautiful in the fall.


We detoured down 259 south of Big Cedar for an out and back on that recommended road which was very good.


The road quality declined east of 259 on the Talimena and it took a lot of the fun out of it.  It got really bumpy until close to Mena and then it smoothed out again.


We stayed in a little VRBO house in Mena and loved it.  I left Tam at the house and drove 375 down to Shady in the Wolf Pen Gap area and that was fun. No pics of that since my backseat photographer wasn’t with me.

Monday we kept it light and rode through the Mount Ida area over to Hwy 7 up to Ola before making our way to Mt Magazine. Here is 7 north of Hollis:


I was pleasantly surprised by Hwy 27 as we made our way up to Danville.  Nice road.  Mt Magazine was a good road last time, but this time the tar snakes were terrible on the south end.  We lost traction and slipped hard to the right once on a spot. That is never much fun.  


We got to the lodge at Mt Magazine right about lunch and had the whole day to hang out there.  It’s a newer lodge and in great condition.  This is the first time I’ve got to stay there and would strongly recommend it.  This is overlooking Blue Mountain Lake from the lodge:



They may need to spray for bugs as there were a LOT of these:


We went out on the balcony for a while and found that Tammy had locked the door to the balcony.  So that was fun.  Fortunately we heard a couple below us and we called out to them and they called the front desk.  One of us has to do something to make our stays interesting.


They were taking the COVID security very seriously – more than any other restaurant or hotel this trip.  The menu was reduced but still had some decent options.


Here is sunset at the lodge


And sunrise


Tuesday we hit some of the better Ozark roads and went up Mt Nebo on the way. Going up Nebo is harder than going down, but a lot more fun.  There is no room for error on those 12 switchbacks. 

Going up:



From the top:



Going back down:


You have to take a picture at Big Piney Bridge on 123


The Hankins Country Store at Sand Gap/Pelsor was all closed up.  It looks like its been closed for a long time, but I’m pretty sure it was open when I went through there a couple years ago.

One of my favorite twisty sections is on 123 just south of Mt Judea



Here is 374 headed over to Jasper.  This is another great road.


We were going to eat lunch in Jasper but it was surprisingly packed for a Tuesday so we just drove on through. 

Hwy 74 east of Ponca had nice curves.  When they put signs on BOTH sides of the road there is a reason.



We stayed in Harrison for the night.  On Wednesday we were going to take an easterly route and cross Peel’s Ferry but I’ve done that a couple times and we found out my nephew was off work, so we took the shorter route through Branson.  It was as empty as I’ve ever seen Branson, so it was kind of fun to drive around a bit.


This section of MO 176 just before intersecting with 160 wasn’t really that memorable until a large deer ran out right in front of us.  I only saw a flash before it was in front and I had only begun to squeeze the brakes.  It was running at full speed and we were doing 55.  I missed her by less than 3 feet.  If she had slowed down even a bit we would have hit it.  Definitely a scary event.


Thursday morning we fished at Lake Taneycomo for trout and caught 19 between us.  About 4 were in the pound and a half range but nothing picture worthy.


We headed to Southern IL on Friday to visit more family, the girls in the car and me alone again on the bike.  I took a detour off 60 and went up through Eminence and over 106 and 34 to Cape Girardeau.  I have been to some of the Missouri Ozark roads NW of Cape but not to Eminence.  106 and 34 were fantastic!  Very little traffic and sweepers built for speed made for a thrilling ride through there.  Let’s just say Tammy would not have tolerated that part.  I forgot I wasn’t on the FJR and forgot about my fingers hurting.  My favorite road section of the trip, except for not being with my favorite photographer.

Made it home safe after 1794 miles total.  Not sure what is next or if we have to wait until fall for another trip.  But it certainly was good to be out for a change.

Nice report, Oark store is a must when in the area. Been there two times while chasing the Hooterville gang in the fall.   Can't go wrong riding northern Arkansas, nice roads with the forest pushed back off the road.

Was the deer near the town of Deer?  Home of the Antlers ya know.

Glad you two missed the forest rat- it hurts when you connect with one.

Was the deer near the town of Deer?  Home of the Antlers ya know.
The near miss was 100 miles N of Deer, but 16 thru Deer is a good road.  We went 10 miles west of it going south and then 16 miles east of it coming back this trip.  I've hit a vulture but thankfully not a deer.

Nice ride report and pictures! Glad you missed the deer for sure. Always enjoy hearing of others' adventures while dreaming about mine.

Great to see you still posting your Ride Reports and pics.  Some of your stuff shaped Rides and Vacations for me and my family.

Pop and I spent a night at the Mt. Magazine Lodge and I have a pic of him sitting at that same table.  But even with her mask, Tammy is a lot nicer to look at!