Time to gather up the glossy brochures and tuck those ambitious plans for a trip to San Francisco and the fall grape crush and wine festival experience in Northern CA back in the drawer. It sounded like a good idea last winter. Next year. Scuba diving in the Bahamas. Someday, sure. Walking tour of the pubs in Ireland. Not today. Wild fires to the west, dueling storm fronts to the east–not to mention a pretty confusing global pandemic. Staying put is clearly a better plan. That doesn’t mean you are trapped between your bed, your couch, and your dining room table.
Originally a ten-mile wagon ride to escape the sweltering summer in the city, Bella Vista promised a picnic spot in a shady glen where children could catch polliwogs in the creek. By early in the twentieth century trains, highways, and automobiles transformed Bella Vista from a quiet escape into a summer vacation village a day’s drive, more or less, from Dallas, Tulsa, Kansas City, or Chicago. Eight decades ago mom and the kids spent moved to Bella Vista for the summer. It was close enough that dad worked in the city came down and over for weekends.
Bella Vista is still a few hours drive, more or less. It’s place where you can find stunning sunset views from private deck of a comfortable vacation home. Located in the Ozark mountains at the northern-western-most part of North West Arkansas, This friendly little Ozark mountain town is the best of both worlds: a forest oasis with all of the comfortable amenities of a city life.
Bella Vista offers a wide-range of dining options. Many of Bella Vista’s eating establishments are locally owned. Enjoy Lakepoint Restaurant and award-winning Chicago-trained Chef Jerry James’ dishes prepared with a southern flair and served with a view of Loch Lomand. Everybody is starving after that hike or 19 holes? Gusano’s Chicago Style Pizzeria is a comfortable, casual place to get a great meal. With the Bella Vista promise of an ‘Out of the Ordinary’ kind of vacation, you can opt to stay in and order out; or enjoy the crisp early fall evening with a family barbecue, while watching the sun set and the stars come out in a sky far away from city lights.
With over two hundred private short-term rentals, you will find one that is perfect for your family or group. Book a retreat right in the middle of 100 miles of world-class mountain bike/hiking trails, eight golf courses, seven placid lakes, and a woodland studded with tumbling waterfalls and wide rippling creeks. In Bella Vista you will find a place to give your heart and mind the break it needs.
Tanyard Creek Nature Trail, which was constructed by volunteers, is a two-part trail with parking. Part one is a paved walking trail, a relatively level 0.3-mile loop through open country. Part 2 is a moderately hilly trail that stretches through woods and along Tanyard and Sunshine creeks. This portion of the trail has a well-maintained natural surface, which takes hikers past a breathtaking waterfall.
If you visit early enough and are lucky enough you might spot Geoffrey, the great blue heron who stands sentry over this special place.
The season is changing in the Ozarks right now. Fall color won’t peak for a few weeks, but the days and nights are lovely. Early fall days in these mountains are beautifully comfortable, sunny, cooler, and with less humidity than an Arkansas summer typically delivers. The nights are cool which makes a lakeside fire pit or cozy living room hearth welcome. The water in the creek and falls is lower at the end of the summer and early fall. We invite you to put your feet in the water and let your troubles head downstream. The lower water makes it safe for the kids to play in the creek. Although at this time of year, they are more likely to catch a frog than a polliwog.
The Tanyard Creek and Falls photographs and video in this story are the work of Dana Johnson, an award winning Bella Vista photographer and author of two photography books: Bella Vista Arkansas and Country Roads. For all his talent and accomplishment, Dana speaks about his work modestly, “I consider myself a Hobbiest Photographer—with an obsession. I’m primarily a nature and wildlife photographer. Living in the Ozarks of Arkansas has provided me with beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, lakes and streams to explore and photograph. The winding back roads are conduits to endless views of rural scenery and wildlife.”
You will find Dana out and about, somewhere, seeking the light, very early in the morning. He and Geoffrey are exceptional friends.