…..The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay……if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ― George EliotThe Ozark Mountains is a 47,000 square mile region covering parts of Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas. Bella Vista, Arkansas is located in the gently rolling hills of the Salem Plateau right on the Missouri Arkansas border. The rocky terrain is made up of flat-lying sedimentary layers of the Paleozoic age. The geology can be seen most dramatically in the clear spring-fed streams and behind waterfalls tumbling through untouched deciduous forests. One hundred miles of engineered and maintained mountain bike and hiking trails in Bella Vista have made exploring deep into the middle of the Ozark mountain forest wonderland possible.
Nature, always costumed appropriately in every season, is revered by the residents of this Ozark mountain town. The town boasts national certifications as a Tree City USA by The Arbor Day Foundation and is a Monarch City, USA. One of its seven golf courses has recently achieved certification by Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses. Even the children understand ‘monitoring bluebird boxes’ and ‘planting milkweed.’ It is entirely possible that when you spot a banded bluebird flying south through your own backyard, on it’s way to Mexico, it was reared in Bella Vista.
Fall is a spectacular 360 degree ‘cinerama’ in the Ozark mountains. Two of the four major migratory flyways in the US, The Central Flyway and The Mississippi Flyway run north and south over the west and east parts of the Ozarks, respectively. Bella Vista sits in between both of them. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, one might see birds from either flyway stop over in this part of the Ozarks for rest and food.
Two hundred different tree species are native to the mountain forests and meadows. Canopies of tall hardwoods stretch across miles of ridge tops as unspooled red, orange, yellow, and gold ribbons. Get a little closer on Bella Vista trails and you will be in the middle of an understory of brilliant crimsons and purples of dogwood, redbud, sweetgum, and blackgum to name a few.
In 1910, glossy brochures invited families to get away from the city and visit “Nature’s Gem of the Ozarks.” It’s an open invitation.
Bella Vista history in the last century led directly to the natural playground it is today. At one time the area was an important hunting area for Osage and Delaware tribes. When European settlers began driving their corner stakes and claiming their heartland future, they tended to do so on other SW Missouri and NW Arkansas land better suited for farming. The very hilly, rocky terrain that adds to the natural beauty today limited development.
But it wasn’t undiscovered. Even late in the 19th century, cool springs and clear streams tumbling over smooth rock through shady glens made it a popular destination for out-of-state, big city-folk eager to escape the heat of summer. It was just a short wagon ride away. As time passed and trains, roads, and automobiles made longer distance travel feasible for vacation and holidays, entrepreneurs turned their eye on the Ozarks.
Over the decades, Bella Vista invented and reinvented itself first as a resort, and then a resident settlement, and now, just a really terrific place to live, work, play, explore, and relax. Today it is a bit of all of those things—a growing and diverse community with a population of 29,000.
Bella Vista can do ‘no crowds’, but you absolutely don’t have to sit on a squash. After exploring, biking, or hiking, you can enjoy your solitude or enjoy camaraderie with friends and family. You won’t learn this from Google. There is no motel row in Bella Vista. This is not a cookie cutter experience. Instead, you create a memorable adventure. You choose from 200+ vacation rentals, each with individual character. You choose a perfect combination of beds, baths, kitchens, and living spaces to accommodate everybody’s needs. Watch the sunset over the lake with your favorite pinot noir. Jump on the trail in the morning without loading the car. Relax with quiet conversation around a fire under a starry sky; or teach your kids to play pool. In Bella Vista nature and civilization are part of the package.