|Bikers get their motors running to head out o
n the highway in Arkansas and show they were
By Lori Schueler
In the Ozark Mountains, a treasure of a town is sitting on biker gold. Surrounded by the beauty of the Natural State, Eureka Springs, Ark., lures motorcyclists with its impressive scenery and sense of adventure. Forests of trees, rolling hills, curvy roads and interesting towns make Arkansas a diamond in the rough for riding. With the many motorcycle trails across the state, it is easy to take advantage of the landscape.
Above: Bikers cruise the historic downtown in Eureka Springs. This town tucked in the Ozark hills is biker-friendly, offering great lodging, food, events and even motorcycle lessons and rentals. Eureka Springs CVB photo
Below: Kick back at Beaver Lake near Eureka Springs while on the Beaver Lake and Upper Table Rock Lake motorcycle tour. Fish, swim or hike at 12 developed parks around the lake. Arkansas Parks and Tourism photo
In Eureka Springs, more than just incredible views attract bikers. Friendly faces and down-home folks welcome tourists at every turn. Accommodations and attractions catered toward bikers get their engines roaring. See the abundant flora and fauna decorating the countryside. Feel the sunshine hit your face and the wind whip through your hair. Let loose, get comfortable and pack up the saddlebags because it is going to be an exciting ride.
You will find it in Eureka
Eureka Springs is a biker-friendly town of 2,500 residents. Character and charm are echoed in the 19th-century buildings, and the well-preserved Victorian homes are a delight. The entire downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places, and because the streets are so narrow, motorcyclists are told to drive slowly and quietly. Be sure to hop off the bike and walk the meandering streets of this historical neighborhood. The Flatiron Flats–the most photographed building in Eureka Springs–will quickly catch your eye as it juts into the street, splitting the road in two. Artwork and other knickknacks are displayed in window shops. More than 250 working artists inhabit the town and the citizens take pride in their love for the arts.
Motorcycle enthusiast Joe McClung educates visitors on the town’s history, artistic culture and activities for bikers. McClung has been riding for 39 years, and has ridden alongside Arlo Guthrie and Merle Haggard. A citizen of Eureka Springs for 40 years, he knows what biker tourists crave.
“Bike enthusiasts, at least for 40-year-olds and on up, want to know more about where they are riding, and they are so interested in the history,” McClung said.
McClung has owned the biker-friendly Swiss Holiday Resort Rodeway Inn, located at 2015 W. Van Buren, for 13 years. In the summer of 2007, McClung hosted the Hells Angels convention at his AAA two Diamond motel. He knows how to keep his place lively, especially with music. B.B. King has stayed at the motel, and Willie Nelson–a friend of McClung’s–is a regular each year.
McClung provides guided tours for groups or individuals. He also provides information about the best local restaurants, what to do and see on trails, float trips and horseback riding adventures.
Rev up your engines
“There is nothing like the sound of a Harley,” McClung said as he rode through Eureka Springs on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Two popular biking routes provide the best opportunity to discover the city’s history and natural beauty. The Historic Eureka Springs Tour explores the downtown area and uncovers historical facts and legends about the town. The Beaver Lake and Upper Table Rock Lake Tour explores the countryside.
Old limestone walls, hidden caves, bubbling springs and antique houses alongside winding roads are some of the sights to see on the Historic Eureka Springs Tour. The twisting roads are made for motorcycle navigation. Smell the fresh air and notice the abundant greenery; the city requires a permit to chop down a tree. Travel through downtown and meet the comfy-cozy neighborhoods of Eureka Springs. Learn interesting facts about how the Palace Hotel and Bathhouse used to be a brothel. Find out how Jesse James used the city as a hideout or see the house where Bill Clinton spent his college years. McClung is a great tour guide.
“Bikers not only want to ride to see the scenery, but they love to hear stories,” McClung said. “There is so much history and beauty here.”
The Beaver Lake and Upper Table Rock Lake Tour takes you across a suspension bridge, which was featured in the 2005 movie “Elizabethtown,” and into Beaver, Ark., located seven miles north of Eureka Springs. Observe the horse pastures, goat farms and hillsides full of trees. Stretch your legs at Beaver Lake and go scuba diving, swimming, fishing or boating. Onyx Cave is a popular attraction along the way. Depending on how often you stop to play, this tour can last a few hours.
Feed the hungry hog at Rockin’ Pig Saloon, 2039 E. Van Buren. Famous for their Rockin’ Smoked Hot Wings and American Burger, the restaurant caters toward the biker lifestyle. It has a spacious outside patio, plenty of bike parking out front and a stage inside. Co-owner Marshall Johnson said the burgers are ground from chuck roast, and the flour and tomatoes are imported from Italy.
“The only thing frozen here is the ice,” said Johnson. Even though the food is fresh, the prices are reasonable. Other food items include pulled pork sandwiches, pizzas and the Rockin’ Smoked Poppers.
For dessert, savor some sweets at Two Dumb Dames Fudge Factory, 33 S. Main in the historical district. For a drink or two, stop by Pied Piper Pub and Inn, 82 Armstrong. Grab a drink, sit out on the patio and mingle with other bikers.
Renting and learning to ride
If you don’t have a bike and want to rent one, stop by Pig Trail Harley-Davidson at 2409 Hudson Road in Rogers, located 35 miles west of Eureka Springs. As the largest Harley-Davidson dealership in the state–a massive 47,000 square feet–it has motorcycle sales, rentals, parts and other merchandise. Rent a bike for six hours, a day, weekend or week. A six-hour rental is $79, a weekday rental is $119 and a weekend costs $149 per day. The price includes a helmet, rain gear, roadside assistance and other features.
Training courses are also available at the dealership. Marketing and Events Manager Buck Blanchard said 35 to 40 percent of those taking the classes are women.
“Women don’t want to ride on the back of their guy’s bike anymore. They want to drive,” Blanchard said.
He said women up to 75 years old are learning to ride. Riders have the option of enrolling in a three-day course or a five-partial-day course. Once graduated, riders can take their certificate to the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles, take the written motorcycle test and then get their license and start breezing through the wind.
Where to sack out
It’s time to curl up and call it a day. There’s a variety of resorts, motels, cabins and bed-and-breakfast inns available in Eureka Springs and surrounding areas.
The Rodeway Inn Swiss Holiday Resort has friendly service and clean, reasonably priced rooms. Enjoy the hot tub, swimming pool, fire pit and pine trees. McClung will take care of you and your bike.
Pointe West Resort & Suites, located at 11882 state Highway 187, is situated overlooking Beaver Lake, presenting a spectacular scenic view. Soak up the beauty of the Ozark Mountains while having a comfortable night’s stay.
When your front wheel touches the road, you will know you have hit the jackpot in Eureka Springs.
“Anybody who rides is an adventurer,” McClung said. “That’s who we are and we want to be entertained.”
Lori Schueler is a contributor from Columbia, Ill.
Look for adventure at these Arkansas motorcycle events
By Lori Schueler
Hey darlin’ go make it happen at one of these motorcycle rallies in Arkansas. Hot bikes, cool music and more will make you feel like a true nature’s child. Crank up Steppenwolf on your favorite classic rock radio station and let’s go.
- April 22–25, Wild Hog Motorcycle Rally & Musicfest, Helena-West Helena, Cherry Street Pavilion, 302 Cherry St., www.wildhogmusic.org. Come to the Delta for classic rock, a motorcycle show, vendors and poker run.
- June 15–19, Motorcycle Rally–CMA National, Mena, Iron Mountain Pavilion, www.cmausa.org/events. Motorcycle rides, vendors, games and a parade (Saturday) are part of the Ouachita mountain fun. Admission: $18 adult, $9 child.
- July 29–31, H.O.G.® Rally, Hot Springs, Convention Center and Summit, www.arstatehogrally.com. Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners gather for a motorcycle rally. Vendors and entertainers also will be there.
- Aug. 20–22, Sixth Annual Mountains, Music & Motorcycles, Mountain View, www.ozarkgetaways.com. Event features biker games, a poker run, a bike show, music and food.
- Sept. 28–Oct. 2, Bikers, Blues and BBQ, northwest Arkansas, www.bikesbluesandbbq.org. Motorcycle rally, live music, great barbecue and vendors make this annual event popular with motorcycle enthusiasts.
|May/Jun 2010 Issue