Arkansas - Nature and Scientific Wonders

Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, offers visitors the unprecedented opportunity for a therapeutic soak. The 47 mineral pools and watershed of Hot Springs were first protected when Congress declared the area a "reservation" in 1832, making it the oldest national park in the country, even though the invigorating waters have been drawing people for thousands of years. Modern additions include the stone bathhouses on Bathhouse Row that were built in the early twentieth century to accommodate all the visitors who came to take the waters in the "Valley of the Mists." These structures have been meticulously preserved and are now a National Historic Landmark District.

Visitors can dig for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. The eroded remains of a prehistoric volcanic pipe, this 35-acre site is the only public diamond mine in the world. Over 75,000 of these glittery stones have been found here and it is believed to be the world's eighth largest diamond reserve.

Quartz prospecting is a uniquely Arkansas experience. According to geologists, Arkansas, along with Brazil, has the best quality quartz in the world. Found in the Ouachita Mountains of the state, quartz deposits are plentiful throughout the area and there are numerous free mines where visitors can carry off a souvenir that they unearthed themselves.

With so much to see in Arkansas, visitors may want to get in their car and drive along the Scenic 7 Byway. One of the most scenic drives in America according to Car and Driver magazine, which rated the Scenic 7 one of the top ten driving experiences in the United States, this stretch of road offers passengers a view of the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains, and extends from the Louisiana border to Bull Shoals Lake just before the Missouri state line.

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