Growing up in Fort Smith, my favorite way to pass the time was finding local spots to explore. Whether it was walking trails at a local park or a small nature center, I loved spending time outside. Once I could drive, I expanded my expeditions statewide, setting out with my cousin Amber to explore as many waterfalls in Arkansas as we could find!
From the wildly popular spots like Cedar Falls at Petit Jean to the less traveled falls that took some trial and error in finding, we couldn’t get enough of the Natural State’s waterfalls.
And there is certainly no shortage of creeks, rivers, and waterfalls across the state. If you’re looking to make a splash this summer or unwind in the cooler months, check out these incredible Arkansas waterfalls and start compiling your waterfall bucket list!
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The Best Waterfalls in Arkansas
In no particular order (how am I supposed to rank these treasures?)
Cedar Falls, located within Petit Jean State Park, is one of the first Arkansas waterfalls I ever visited! This is probably the most popular waterfall destination in the state, and with good reason. There is a 1.9 mile trail down to the glorious 95-foot waterfall.
It’s a beautiful hike leading to a truly breathtaking grand finale. The trail is fairly steep in some parts and is generally pretty busy. So pack plenty of water, wear comfortable shoes, and get there early to beat the rush (and the heat!).
While you’re there, explore the rest of Petit Jean State Park – Arkansas’s first state park! With tons of trails, overlooks, and even two swimming pools, it is impossible to be bored at beautiful Petit Jean State Park.
Haw Creek Falls
Located in Johnson County, Haw Creek Falls is the perfect destination for a leisurely nature walk. A short trail is punctuated by the cascading Haw Creek Falls.
The trail isn’t typically very busy and leashed dogs are permitted, so pack a picnic or your camping gear and experience the tranquility of these gorgeous falls. Cross two spots off your waterfall bucket list by also visiting Pam’s Grotto – only one mile away from the Haw Creek Falls!
Kings Bluff Falls
One of the tallest waterfalls in Arkansas is the Kings Bluff Falls. Nestled in the Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area in Pelsor, Arkansas, Kings Bluff Falls is fit for a king. You can take the 1.8-mile hike down the Kings Bluff Loop Trail, which features beautiful views throughout the entire trek until the trail opens up to the majestic falls.
After you’ve worked up a king-sized appetite at the falls, head back towards Interstate 40 and check out one of my favorite burger joints in the state, CJ’s Butcher Boy in Russellville, Arkansas!
The Buffalo River is the first National River, and the entire Buffalo River area is one of the greatest gems in the state. In the river park near Ponca, Arkansas you’ll find the Lost Valley Trail, a 2.1-mile hike to the absolutely stunning Eden Falls waterfall.
With cascading water that changes direction about halfway down, this is a sight to behold. Once you’ve made it to the falls, stay a while to take in its natural glory – but don’t turn back just yet! Head uphill from the waterfall and turn right and you will see the opening of the Eden Cave.
If you’re a novice explorer, you can stay at the cave’s entrance and take in the view. If you’re a more experienced adventurer you can continue into the cave a few yards to see the underground waterfall! If you choose to continue underground, be careful – this is some dark and slippery spelunking!
Mirror Lake Waterfall
Found in the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area near Mountain View, Arkansas, Mirror Lake Trail is a loop trail that can be enjoyed by the entire family. The trail leads to the aptly named Mirror Lake and its magnificent waterfall.
This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state, and with such an easy hike to get there, Mirror Lake Waterfall makes for the perfect day trip.
Watch the crystal clear water flow and enjoy a moment of serenity. After your serene above-ground experience, you can check out the Blanchard Springs Caverns, or get some history in by visiting the Old Mill.
If caves aren’t your speed, you can travel a quick hour to Heber Springs, Arkansas, and take a dip at Sandy Beach!
Natural Dam Falls
Natural Dam Falls was one of my most-frequented summertime destinations. Located in Crawford County in the Ozark National Forest, these 8-foot falls are easily accessible and do not require a long hike to get to.
Stay and admire the falls awhile and then cool off in one of Natural Dam’s swimming holes. The swimming holes can get crowded, but it’s no surprise since they are the perfect end to a day of exploring!
After toweling off from your dip you can take a quick half-hour drive to my old stomping grounds in Fort Smith! Visit the Fort Smith National Historic Site, one of the National Parks in Arkansas, to learn about Hanging Judge Parker, visit historic downtown, or grab a bite at my favorite hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese Restaurant, Pho Vietnam.
Pam’s Grotto Falls
Being from Western Arkansas, I’m partial to destinations in the Ozarks. But all biases aside, Pam’s Grotto, situated in the Ozark National Forest, is an ethereal sight to see.
You can get to the falls by taking the 0.8 mile Pam’s Grotto Waterfall Trail located in Johnson County. The trail is a moderate hike, so make sure you’ve got your hiking shoes. The trail leading to the falls is lined with trees and bluffs, making it a truly quintessential Ozark hike.
Glory Hole Falls
If you’re on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind waterfall then look no farther than Glory Hole Falls! Located deep in the Ozark National Forest near Deer, Arkansas, this waterwall flows straight down through a hole in a bluff and is too cool to skip.
The trail leading to this unique fall is about 2 miles long and tends to get pretty busy. It is not paved, so make sure you’re ready for a hike – you won’t regret it.
High Bank Twin Falls
What’s better than one waterfall? How about two 70-foot waterfalls flowing side-by-side! High Bank Twin Falls are stunning waterfalls near Pettigrew Arkansas.
They are situated off of a short, easy to travel path, making this the perfect destination for a quick trip and some positively gorgeous photos. Sit beside the peaceful grotto beneath the twin falls and take in all the beauty these falls have to offer.
Once you’re zenned out, you can take the short trip to the Mulberry River for some canoeing or cruise the Pig Trail Scenic Byway – an Arkansas classic!
Hemmed-in Hollow Falls
Also in the Buffalo River area, Hemmed-in Hollow Falls is a classic, picturesque waterfall. But this trip is not for the faint of heart – with a 5.5 mile hike to get to the fall, make sure you’re prepared for the trip.
Since this hike takes a bit of planning, it is the perfect addition to a camping and float trip at the Buffalo River! Kyle’s Landing Recreation Area and Campground is close by and is a popular camping spot on the Buffalo, but sites fill up fast so get there early to pitch your tent!
Arkansas has no shortage of natural resources – from diamonds to quartz, the Natural State has it all. So it’s no surprise that Marble Falls is named for the marble that was once found in the nearby town with the same name. These gorgeous falls are perfect for the adventurer-on-the-go, as you don’t even need to leave your car to see them!
Make a stop as you’re driving down Scenic Byway 7, watch the flowing water from your window or hop out to read the falls’ historical marker to learn more about Marble Falls – like the fact that Arkansas marble was used in the construction of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC!
At only 8 feet tall, Hardy Falls is a small but mighty waterfall! These falls are located near the Mount Magazine State Park. Mount Magazine is the tallest point in Arkansas and is an absolutely stunning park – so stunning in fact my husband and I had our wedding ceremony atop the mountain!
But once you’ve seen the overlook, there is still exploring to be done in the area. Down the mountain, you’ll find Hardy Falls, and while there are no official trails that will lead you to these falls, you can see them from your car on Arkansas Highway 309. Being able to take in an awesome waterfall from the comfort of your car – what could be better?
Like something out of a movie, the oasis that is Magnolia Falls can be found in the Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area. Near Pettigrew, Arkansas, you can hike the 2 mile Magnolia Falls Trail to see the striking falls of the same name.
The hike is perfect for all skill levels, and the falls are beautiful all year round. Although Magnolia Falls is the main attraction along this trail, your two-mile journey will take you past three additional waterfalls! With each waterfall you pass as beautiful as the last, you’ll be wanting to return to this trail year after year.
If you’re from Arkansas, you know about Hawksbill Crag. Although the iconic crag itself is this spot’s claim to fame, the Whitaker Point Trail that takes you to the awe-inspiring overlook will also take you past some pretty impressive waterfalls.
The trail is about 3 miles long and located near Pettigrew, Arkansas, making this yet another Buffalo River-adjacent destination. These waterfalls are at their peak in the springtime, so plan a trip to see the wildflowers bloom and the falls flow! Use caution when travelling out toward the edge of the cliff to take in the view or snap a photo, as it is a steep drop off.
Six Finger Falls
Located in Pelsor, Arkansas, Six Finger Falls is the perfect 0.1-mile hike for all ages and skill levels! The leisurely walk from the car leads you to a long cluster of six short falls.
Although they are only about 6 feet in height, these falls positively glitter in the sunlight making them a delight to see. Can’t get enough? Make a day of it! After your quick walk back to the car you can drive a short 25 minutes to the Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area and take a longer hike in to see the Kings Bluff Falls.
Little Missouri Falls
Little Missouri Falls sits in the Ouachita National Forest, close to Langley, Arkansas. A quick quarter-mile hike in, these falls do not disappoint. After you’ve gotten your fill of the falls, take the hour drive to Mena for a quiet getaway.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of taking family trips to Mena to ride the train through Queen Wilhelmina State Park! This would be the perfect trip to take the whole gang along on.
Falls Creek Falls
Falls Creek Falls is a gorgeous 10-foot waterfall tucked in the Lake Catherine State Park in the Ouachita Mountains. Take the 1.6 mile Falls Branch Trail to reach these flowing falls. While you’re around Lake Catherine, you can visit the full-service marina, go fishing off the pier, or rent a charming cabin and make a vacation out of it! The possibilities are endless at this natural haven.
If you’ve gotten your fill of nature, you’re in luck! Lake Catherine State Park is a quick 20-minute drive from Hot Springs – one of Arkansas’s most beloved towns. You can explore Hot Springs National Park, Bathhouse Row, the famed Arlington Resort, or grab a bite to eat at President Clinton’s favorite barbeque spot in the state, McClard’s Bar-B-Q!
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Kendall Davis is originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and graduated from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and their dog, Scout.