The geography of Arkansas is really diverse and intriguing to study. The topography varies from plains to mountains and valleys – from hills to plains and from prairies to forests. In this section we shall study the geography of this region.
The length of Arkansas is 260 miles and it is 240 miles in width. Arkansas shares borders with Louisiana on the south and Missouri on the north. On the East is also Missouri along with Tennessee and Mississippi. On the west is Oklahoma and Texas. The Eastern border is marked by the Mississippi River. Area wise, Arkansas is not very large; it is the 29th largest state in the U.S.
Arkansas valley: This valley is set between the Ozark Plateau and the Ouachita Mountains. The Magazine Mountain, which is the highest point of Arkansas is found in this region. The Arkansas River flows at the bottom of the Arkansas Valley. This is the biggest river in Arkansas.
Ozark Plateau: It is in the north central and northwestern area of the state. Also often called the Ozark Mountains, it is covered with dense forest. Due to the heavily sloped terrain, there are several gorges with fast-flowing rapids. The two major landmarks in this area are the Boston Mountains and the Mammoth Springs.
West Gulf Coastal Plain: This plain is in the south central and southeast parts of the state. It is populated with farmlands and pine forests. Natural gas and petroleum deposits are found in this region. The Ouachita River is also located here.
Ouachita Mountains: Of the two mountain ranges in Arkansas, the Ouachita Mountains are one of them. The Ouachita range extends from central Arkansas to Oklahoma. This area is rich in minerals and timber and is also has hot springs.
Mississippi Alluvial Plain: The Mississippi river has made the east border of Arkansas. The major part of these plains as the name indicates is lowlands, but there are a few hills and these hills make up Crowley’s Ridge. The Mississippi plain, also known as the Delta, is a fertile agricultural area due to its rich alluvial soil.
Lakes of Arkansas: Some of the most beautiful lakeside locations in the world can be found in Arkansas. Listed below are a few of the prominent lakes of this state.
Lake Ouachita: Situated in the Ouachita National Forest, it covers an area of over 1.6 million acres. It is one of the most sought-after holiday destinations.
Lake Chicot: The largest ox-bow lake in North America is Late Chicot. The name of this lake originates from the French word for “stumpy” which refers to the cypress trees and stumps which line this lake. The Lake Chicot State Park is attached to this lake
1927 Cut-off Lake: Originating from the Mississippi River, this lake is another ox-bow lake formed by the meandering of the river and then later changing its course.
Lake of the Ozarks: Located on the Osage River in central Mississippi, it has an area of 55000 acres. It is a manmade lake and traces its origins to the building of the Bagnell dam in the 1920’s. It is the home of one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, “The Lodge of Four Seasons”.
Mississippi River: It is the largest river in North America. It is roughly 2300 miles long originating at Lake Itasca and ends at New Orleans where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Its main tributary is the River Missouri.
Red River: It is actually a tributary of the Mississippi and is famous for mountain trout. It is situated on the border of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Arkansas River: The Arkansas River is another tributary of the Mississippi. It crosses Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
White River: It is 722 miles long and passé through the states of Missouri and Arkansas.
Mountains: The main mountain ranges in Arkansas are the Ozark Mountains, Ouachita Mountains.
Ozark Mountains: These mountains are spread over north central and northwest Arkansas and South Missouri. The range occupies about 47000 square miles in area. The prominent mountains in this range are the Boston Mountains and Saint Francois Mountains. In the Springfield Plateau area, features such as sinkholes springs, losing streams, and caves are to be found. Missouri is called "The Cave State" as it has about 6000 caves.
Ouachita Mountains: These are generally called “Fold Mountains” as they were formed by the folds created by the earth’s crust about 300 million years ago. These mountains are well known for Quartz crystal deposits.
Forests in Arkansas are controlled by the Arkansas Forestry Commission. As mentioned earlier, a major portion of the landmass of Arkansas is covered by forest and this is indeed one of the most important assets of this state. There are three national forests in Arkansas – Ozark, St Francis and Ouachita forests.
We come to an end here by summarizing and reiterating the fact that Arkansas is a state which has diverse geography and makes it indeed a fascinating study. It is not really enough to read about the geography of Arkansas – one needs to really visit this state to truly experience the diverse terrains which are available.