Ask anybody in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma or Missouri where the mountains are, and they will point you in the direction of the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. Not many people have even heard of the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains nestling between them in the USA Interior Highlands. This simple fact means you could visit either, and escape the crowds.
USA Interior Highlands: Escape the Crowd
The Ouachita Mountains make up the southernmost 20% of the USA Interior Highlands, where they rise to 2,753 feet (840 meters). The name derives from the Choctaw words for “buffalo” and “large.” The plains between the highlands must have been fertile, and good for fast pursuit on horses.
Ouachita National Forest
The mountain folds in this part of the USA Interior Highlands run from east to west and arose 300 million years ago. The trees that cover the Ouachita Mountains are mainly northern red, post, black, and white oak, mockernut hickory, and shortleaf and loblolly pine. The main tourist attractions are the Hot Springs National Park , Lake Ouachita, and the Ouachita National Park.
The larger, northern portion of the USA Interior Highlands goes by the alternative names of Ozark Mountains, Ozarks Mountain Country, and the Ozark Plateau. It crosses the borders of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri for a total 47,000 square miles (122,000 km2) and has magnificent forests. The name comes from the French ‘aux arcs’ for the numerous natural arches formed from collapsed caves.
Fall in the Ozarks
The highest elevations reach up to 2,500 feet (780 metres). These afford magnificent views across the Salem and Springfield plateaux. There are innumerable streams, cataracts, waterfalls, and lakes. The caves and forests abound with numerous species of bats, birds, and other wildlife.
Roark Bluff on Buffalo National River
The Ozark wilderness in the USA Interior Highlands exists side-by-side with sawmills, agriculture, and poultry farming. The Ozark Highlands and American wine growing areas make pleasant day drives. Lovers of fine arts flock to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art housing colonial and contemporary work. Car rental is available here.