Hello. We’re going to be driving the Talimena National Scenic Byway. We’re going to go west. We’ll start in Mena, Arkansas, and it will end just outside of Talihena, Oklahoma. On the Arkansas side of the border we will be traveling on Arkansas Highway 88 And once we cross the border into Oklahoma, we will be on Oklahoma Highway Number 1. In addition to being on the Talimena National Scenic Byway, we are also in the Ouachita National Forest. Once we cross Oklahoma, we’ll be in the Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area. And we’re starting the drive. There’s the sign… …visitor’s center… (cough) …which doesn’t open until 10:00. There’s all sorts of scenic turnouts down this road. I drove it this morning getting pictures so I wasn’t going to turn in… …stop at all of them going, going the other direction. Although, I may swing through them just to catch… …a little bit of what you’re seeing on video; but I wasn’t gonna stop and get out at all of them. Acorn Vista Round Mountain Vista coming up. This is, very much, you drive for the view. It’s not the best road to get from anywhere to anywhere else. Down in the valley there’s another road that’s generally used for people who are just trying to get from one place to another. Eagleton Vista coming up Even with the video I can catch some of the shots like this cause you’re really not… …it’s not a great idea to stop… …when you’re not at one of the overlooks for photos because you’ll get run over. Although there’s nobody out here today to run ya over. Coming up on Grandview Vista. I’m gonna do this one as a loop, just to get a better capture of the, the view. This one’s really pretty… …but over here on the left… people have just completely covered this in graffiti… …and more than a little trash. There are hiking trails all through here. (cough) There’s the… …Ouachita… …National Forest has a hiking trail, a pretty long one. I know it’s well over a hundred miles, I think. I don’t remember the exact length. It starts over near Talihena, Oklahoma, and goes through to, I’m want’n to say Mountain View, Arkansas, just north of Little Rock. But that trail crosses this scenic byway in several places… …through here. And there’s some camp grounds along in here. And there’s just several little trails off to the side. We’ve done a few of the shorter ones just down to see something and back up. Up ahead you see the Fire Watch Tower on top of Rich Mountain, which is the highest point along the scenic byway… …a little over 2,000 feet so it’s an actual mountain. There’s a picnic area up there. Apparently you can go up and climb the fire watch tower… …on weekends during certain seasons. Let’s take a little detour through here. No camping allowed. And the Lake Wilhelmina Vista. We’re now entering the Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Arkansas State Park. Junction 272 It takes you down to the road that goes through the valley. There’s a railroad that runs through the valley… …and I believe there used to be a little… …off shoot or a spur from that railroad that came up here to the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge. Queen Wilhelmina State Park has a luxury lodge… …camping, really nice restaurant, good food. It’s a little pricey, but it’s not bad at all. That’s the old railroad engine from there, I think… …scenic overlook. It’s a nice place. There’s a historical marker up here is a pioneer… …cemetery. It’s a short little hike, not, not much at all. There and back’s probably not more than half a mile. But there’s an old cemetery from, I guess, pioneer days. It’s also a couple, as you hike down, there’s three or four trails that meet, just a little bit down the ridge. And the Mountain Fork Vista. All the vistas on the byways, this is one of them. A historical marker in 1,000 feet. That historical marker also, basically, being the Arkansas-Oklahoma border. Which is historic in that it was at one point the… …border of the United States, which ended in Arkansas with the… …I’m want’n to say Choctaw Nation, but it could be Chickasaw. One of the tribes. There’s a trail that goes down… …to a geological survey marker… …that was the boundary of the United States at that point. We’re in Oklahoma now. And the boundary marker was placed in the wrong place. Which was not at all uncommon. Consider the survey methods that were used. But, basically, Arkansas ended up with… …significant amount of land that should have belonged to the tribes. There were lawsuits for years and years and years and years. and I think that they ended up having to pay the tribe some money, but they kept the land. They used the wrong border instead the, instead of moving it back to where it should have been. If you go to a lot of the state boundaries tri-state markers and things like that, you’ll find that a lot of ’em, with more advanced surveying technics and GPS that we’re finding out that their their not in the correct places. So, we’re in Leflore County, Oklahoma… which, apparently, bills itself as “gateway to the mountains…” …according to a sign we passed back there a little bit. Pine Mountain Vista Well, somebody broke the sign on that one. But I believe this is Castle Rock Vista. Yep, Castle Rock Vista. As I recall, you mostly had to get out and walk down a little bit to see passed the trees to really appreciate the view on this one. And that was Chaha Vista. C-H-A-H-A I think it was spelled. Kiamichi Valley Vista Kiamichi is another name for this area, the Ouachita National Forest. This is one of the nicer ones here. Kiamichi Vista on the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Then again, maybe not. I just passed a road that goes up to the right but really there’s no signage and I don’t know where it goes I haven’t explored it. I don’t think I’m gonna explore it this time either. Having driven this in the Mazda and now in the Explorer (Expedition) I’m gonna say I prefer doing it… …in an automatic as opposed to a manual. You can see we are on Oklahoma 1 West. In Arkansas, I believe it was 88. There are various little roads that go off to the sides, We haven’t explored all of them. We have checked out a couple of them. They just go off into the forest, usually, where people do, they call it “dispersed camping.” Since this is a National Forest, there are places in here where you can camp for free; They’re unimproved. There’s usually nothing there but just a clear spot in the woods… …and these aren’t the best roads and most of them have signs saying, “Not suitable for trailer traffic” because, if you tried to haul your RV down there you might not get it out. Sunset Point Vista This is also one of the nicer ones. It includes some descriptions of the geology and how the mountains came came to be here. A lot of these vistas have little hiking trails off to the sides of them. One of the steepier, twisty, turnier parts. This one’s got a serious grade to it. (nervous chuckle) We haven’t run this from east to west before, but, this is a lot steeper going down than anything you run into going the other direction. Kerr Botanical Area And the Kerr Nature Center, which is closed. Winding Stair National Recreational Area… …which we’ve actually been in since we entered Oklahoma. Spring Mountain Road, that’s a little dirt road that’ll go down to, to that highway way down in the valley, which I want say is 271. But I could be wrong about that. 270, something like that. Big Cedar Vista, that was. 259, a north-south highway over here in the Eastern Oklahoma. You can take it down to Broken Bow or up to Poteau. It’s a pretty drive. Instead of runnin’ the ridges, it’s kinda up and over the hills, down in the valleys. And we’re coming up on the Emerald Vista, which is about halfway from the beginning of the western end of the trail to the Arkansas border. It’s gotta vista, of course; but it’s also one of the two places where you can camp. You have campgrounds here. It costs $5. Not much in the way of facilities; I mean, they’ve got grills and tables, it’s nice. Their good paved… …parking spots. Water, out here; there’s water spigots, but it’s, the water source is from springs that are seasonal… …so a lot of times they don’t have any water. Last night, right now they don’t have any water. Not a lot of people here. This is a trail that’s really popular with motorcycles, I think. We came through here, the first time, there were just waves and waves of motorcycles through here. Not this site specifically, but the whole drive. This would be the actual Emerald Vista. As you can see, it’s very vista-y. And a nice little picnic area. People walking the trail tend to do it in late winter, early spring or into fall. It’s just too hot in here the… …summer… …and… There’s a backpacker’s camp up in here. I haven’t actually been through here. Also, there’s almost no water to be found on the trail. People doing long though hikes… …a lot of times you don’t want to carry that much weight to be carrying all the water you need and in the summer I’m not sure if you could carry all the water you needed… …cause you’d need a lot… …so they depend on grabbing water on the trail from springs and creeks and things, running it through their water purifiers. And in the summer, around here, apparently, you cannot count on there being water. Mountain Top Trail and the Ouachita Trail. Ouachita Trail being the through trail that goes all the way over into the middle of Arkansas. Not sure about Mountain Top Trail. But, doing a little bit of checking before coming out here… …none of the… …campgrounds have year round reliable water. I’m sure Queen Wilhelmina, I image, does but I’m not sure if it’s on the Ouachita hiking trail or not. Might be The Shawnee Vista Homer L. Johnson Wildlife Management Area So it’s also an Oklahoma wildlife management area, I think. It might have been national, but not sure. Wildlife management area in Oklahoma mostly means places where you can hunt. No sign on this side saying what this one is. Ah! But there’s a spring back here. I drove down here the other night. Last night. And a little picnic area. And I think a trail head. But there’s an old spring. Horse Thief Springs, that’s where we’re at. Well, if they named it Horse Thief Springs, I’m gonna think the horse thieves should find themselves a less well known place to be. Clear Lake Vista Lenox Vista Yet another unnamed vista. Deadman Vista And the Panorama Vista which is the most vista-y of all the vistas… …because it lets you see in both directions. We came through here on a weekend in the fall and there wasn’t, you couldn’t hardly even park in here. They’ve had a little bit of a fire here recently. At least I see a lot of burnt trees that I don’t recall being… …being burnt the last time we were here. I didn’t catch a name on this one either. I think there’s a sign on the way, from the other direction though. Yeah, you probably won’t see much on this one out of the camera. The angle is just not right. This was Holson something or other. This is Potato Hill Vista. I’m gonna backtrack to that last one and get the… …go through it the opposite direction. I think it will who up better on film. Also, we’ll get the name of it. Holson Valley Vista. Let’s run through that one the other direction. Do some editing. Ah, see, this’ll show up a lot better. And Potato Hill again!. So, yeah, that’ll require some jumpin’ around to get it workin. And down we goooo! Yeah, you pretty much gotta ride your breaks on this one somewhat. Not particularly vista-y. This is the Military Road Campground. Picnic area or something… …of the Winding Stair National Recreation Area. Old Military Road Picnic Ground. And the Choctaw Vista. We’re actually almost at the end of the trail. This might have been the last vista on the trail. I think. I could be wrong on that. There might be another one or two. But I think this was it. Once we get to the end of the actual scenic byway there is still a little ways to go before you get to the actual town of Talihena. National Forest Visitor Center So this is the visitor center that’s on the opposite end, there’s one on each end of the trail basically. We passed one right when we got on trail, but it was closed. So this is actually the end of the scenic byway.