If you love natural beauty, then a Little Rock to Joplin, MO, RV trip makes for a great opportunity to take in parts of the country that often go overlooked by travelers. Consider exploring this area's history by heading from Little Rock to Hot Springs National Park, which was the first national reserve in the United States. Then, head west to Fort Smith before turning north and driving through the Ozarks. All along the way, there are memorable state parks, including Devil’s Den and Roaring River, where you can reconnect with nature while hiking, biking, and fishing. The best way to make a Little Rock to Joplin road trip is in an RV because it lets you stop and explore so many different places at your own pace.
Hot Springs National Park
Located about an hour west of Little Rock, Hot Springs National Park is a fantastic place to explore. Congress first set aside this location as a national reserve in 1832. Forty-seven hot springs flow out of Hot Springs Mountain, and many believe the water has restorative powers. Stop and soak it in at bathhouse row. This park is the only one in the national park system to have its own brewery, and the beer features mineral-rich water. You can also collect the thermal water in your water bottles to drink at numerous places around the park, and no filtering is needed. This park contains over 26 miles of hiking trails. Watch for bats while you roam around this park as it's home to northern long-eared, eastern red, tricolored, little brown, hoary, Brazilian free-tailed, and big brown bats.
Lake Fort Smith State Park
Arkansas is home to many great state parks, including Lake Fort Smith State Park near Mountainburg, Arkansas. Park rangers often lead guided hikes through the park and many of this park’s trails are open for mountain biking. Rent a kayak to play on the 1,400-acre lake or stop at the visitor center to see the replica log cabin and covered wagon. The many small streams feeding into the lake offer fantastic fishing while the swimming pool is a great place to beat the summer heat.
Devil’s Den State Park
Devil’s Den State Park near West Fork, Arkansas, is one of the most intact state parks in the United States. It was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s. Numerous natural-stone structures at this park, including log cabins, blend beautifully into this area's scenic surroundings. Following the 15-mile Butterfield Hiking Trail is a great way to explore this park, and rangers often host guided hikes there. Alternatively, grab your flashlight and follow Devil’s Den Trail to explore the 550-foot-long Devil’s Den Cave and the Farmers Cave. Rangers often hold tours of the Devil’s Den Cave in the summer. The swimming pool, which is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, is a great place to work off the calories you ate at this park’s rustic restaurant, or you can go fishing in the 8-acre lake.
Withrow Springs State Park
The peaceful setting of Withrow Springs State Park near Huntsville, Arkansas, will feed your need to reengage with nature. Enjoy a family day filled with floating on this park’s stream or launch a canoe or kayak to float down the stream and nearby War Eagle Creek. Park rangers offer shuttle service back to the park. Family fun continues at this park’s basketball and tennis courts, and there is also a fabulous crossbow range on-site.
Big Sugar Creek State Park
You can also hit some Missouri state parks on your road trip! If you love ecology and geology, then be sure to include a stop at Big Sugar Creek State Park. This park offers many plants, including the Ozark Chinquapin tree, that are rarely seen in the state anymore. You'll love roaming through the upland oak savannahs, across deeply dissected hills, and splashing in the streams that are found throughout the area. The views from this park’s numerous rock ledges are stunning. Bring along your camera, and you might capture images of red-headed woodpeckers, eastern bluebirds, loggerhead shrikes, and red-tailed hawks.
Roaring River State Park
Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Missouri, is located on Table Rock Lake’s shores, and it is a terrific place to go rainbow trout fishing. Since trout can be extremely smart, you may want to fish with an ultralight pole, 2-pound line, and small plastic worms that you float down the river. You can also have luck if you're an experienced fly-fisherman. There are several trails throughout the area. Explore them and see some of the park's 20 buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Numbered stations along the 1.5-mile Devil’s Kitchen Trail lead you to some of this park’s most exciting rock formations and caves. Pick up an informative trail map at the park office.
Park at West End
You won't want to miss visiting the Park at West End in downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas, on your Little Rock to Joplin RV road trip. Take a spin or two on the vintage Venetian carousel that was hand-painted in Treviso, Italy. Then, take a ride on the 56-foot-tall Ferris wheel that made its first appearance at the 1935 World’s Fair. Riding the Ferris wheel allows you to see the nearby river from a unique vantage point. Settle inside the vintage Pullman railroad car for a fabulous meal or opt to get food from the double-decker bus that has been turned into a food truck.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Stop in Bentonville, Arkansas, to explore the free Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. This museum featuring American artists contains more than 50,000 square feet of gallery space. See works of art by Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, Thomas Eakins, Marsden Hartley, and Stuart Davis at this museum. The spot is also home to the reconstructed Bachman–Wilson House, which was designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. If you're in the mood for a walk, you can find several hiking trails around the museum.
Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari
Drive along four miles of roads at the Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari near Gentry, Arkansas, and see various animals from around the world. Walk through the petting zoo area, where you can engage with over 20 species of animals, including lemurs, miniature donkeys, giraffes, and kangaroos.
Constructed in the Prairie School style, the Thorncrown Chapel near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a great site to include on your road trip from Little Rock to Joplin. This glass chapel is the perfect place to enjoy nature in a very calming environment. All building materials used in this chapel’s construction are native to the state and small enough that two men could carry them to the site.
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Enjoy a variety of campgrounds in Fort Smith. Many of the parks and campgrounds in the city were designed to take advantage of this area’s immense beauty. Options include Cloud Nine RV Park, Blue Sky RV Park, and Park Ridge RV Campground. Fort Smith RV dump stations are available at Clear Creek Campground and Springhill Park.
Nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, Rogers is near many great Ozark campgrounds, including Ozark View RV Park, Grizzly’s RV Park, and Monte Ne RV Park. You can find RV dump stations in Rogers at Rogers/Pea Ridge Garden RV and Campground, Lost Bridge South Campground, and Beaver Lake Hide-A-Way Campground.
There are many terrific campgrounds in the Bentonville area, including Blowing Springs RV Park, The Creeks Golf & RV Resort, and River Ranch Resort. You can find Bentonville RV dump stations at Beaver Lake, Hickory Creek Park Campground, and Horseshoe Bend.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Little Rock to Joplin you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Little Rock or Joplin.