The folk music capital of the United States, located in Stone County, Arkansas, is the largest town in the area, and, quite frankly, one of the biggest small towns overall in the state. You will find Mountain View, Arkansas close to the point where the Blue Mountain Range becomes the Ozark Mountains, and expect a population density of about 3,000 people total.
The city’s economy is acquired through tourism, related specifically to its title as the Folk Music Capital. The town is a great destination for anyone looking to experience the culture and rich tradition of rural Ozark life. There are various historic landmarks, crafts, fishing, and hiking adventures to embark on.
Getting to Mountain View, Arkansas
If you plan on visiting Mountain View you will definitely need a car to reach it. Either a rented car or your own is fine, but the bus will only take you to Clinton, and from there the taxi ride is an hour long, which is not worth the hefty fee. Public transport within Stone County is a challenge at best and you will have difficulty traversing it without your own transport.
If you are driving yourself, the roads are well-marked and in great condition, so it should not be difficult to find your destination. Navigation apps will work well here, but landmarks might not be clearly marked on these apps.
Things to Do in Mountain View
Jamie Rouse Fly Fishing Adventures (Heber Springs)
Jamie Rouse worked to become an expert on fly fishing so that he could create the ideal adventure getaway for enthusiasts. Trips can be a full day, or half day, and can be customized to include wading and floating as much as you prefer. There are several lakes and rivers in the area that are used for the experience, including the Norfork River, White River, and Little Red River.
Ellen Hobgood Gallery (Heber Springs)
This gallery is pretty casual and has a collection of unique artworks by local artists. In addition to the variety of artworks, there are also art lessons and painting parties to enjoy. This is a great place to find beautiful local art in a variety of mediums in a relaxed atmosphere.
Greers Ferry Lake (Heber Springs)
Greers Ferry Lake has one of the best beaches in the state, but it’s not an ocean beach; it’s actually one of the top five biggest lakes in the state. This place is perfect for people and families who love the water! Camping, boating, and water sports are abundant here. The lake is just under an hour outside of Mountain View and is perfect for a day trip full of outdoor recreation opportunities. You will also find historical sites and shopping in the area.
Arkansas Folk Festival
The Arkansas Folk Festival is dedicated to preserving folk music and has been doing so on the 3rd Saturday of April for the past 58 years. Common attractions are the delicious food, craft vendors, and music. Many a local business received support from the Arkansas Folk Festival and it is a great way to discover a new local artist or vendor you might not have known about before.
In October the Arkansas Championship Outhouse Race and Bean Fest grace Mountain View with their presence. This includes a bonafide bean cooking competition, and throughout the weekend you can find live music and many vendors around the historic town square. You can share the experience with locals and other tourists while meandering about the town square and the local shops.
The Arkansas Craft School
In the Mountain View town square you’ll find the ACS where there are different studios dedicated to ensuring that students can perfect their skills in arts and crafts in several different ways. Classes take place year-round and the disciplines are endless: classic art, fiber art, jewelry making, photography, clay, glass, metal, and woodworking.
Jimmy Driftwood Barn
If the music scene is attractive to you and you find yourself in Mountain View, then stop by Jimmy Driftwood Barn. In fact, the Jimmy Driftwood Barn is a key element in preserving folk music and draws tourists from all over. There are no requirements for performers, so anyone can try it out, and old church pews are used as seats.
Stone County Museum
In hopes of gracing the National Register of Historical Places they have started restoration efforts and are replacing some fixtures with replicas of the originals. The Stone County Historical Society meets here, and features include the Mountain View Art Guild and the Loy and Freda Daum Massey Research room. In the historic Mountain View school building is the iconic Stone County Museum and dates back to 1928. In 2004 the building was officially placed on the local Register of Historic Places.
Pine Hills Golf Course
Pine Hills is the only Golf Course in Mountain View. The longest tee is 1,743 and there are nine holes in total. The course opened in 1994, and is a great place to have a quick game. The game is pretty tight but it is still a great opportunity to play some golf in the Ozark hills.
The Stone Drive-In theatre opened back in 1965 and is a true old-fashioned drive-in. The office opens an hour before sunset and showtime only begins at dark. The entrance to the drive-in can be difficult to find as it is not clearly marked. The weather will not affect showtimes at all, and the drive-in only accepts cash – to keep things true to the vintage atmosphere.
Loco Ropes – temporarily closed
Loco Ropes has more than 30 challenges in their adventure park to keep visitors busy for hours. It is a great destination for families to enjoy together, especially for people who are looking for something more exciting to pass their time, like zipline adventures, obstacles, and treetop courses.
Mountain View City Park Disc Golf
In the Mountain View City Park is the Bluegrass Trails Disc Golf Course, which, aside from some forestation, is mostly flat. You can choose one of three different course lengths: red is the longest, blue is quite moderate, and yellow is the shortest. Although there is a short course, it is not really suited to beginners as at least moderate skills are required. Regardless, it is the pride of the park and is therefore quite well maintained.
Jack’s Fishing Resort
For a scenic resort experience on the White River, Jack’s is the perfect family-owned destination in the area. There are several boat docks, the Jojo’s Catfish Wharf restaurant, and resort lodging. You can rent kayaks and canoes, book a guided fishing experience, rent boats, and much more along the White River. Jack’s is a great place to create life-long memories.
Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail
The Syllamo consists of several interconnecting loops to form a 50-mile single-track bike trail. You can start your ride from four distinct trailheads; the AR Highway 5 North, Green Mountain Road, and at the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area. Different experience levels are welcome here, as there are stretches suited to beginners or more experienced riders.
OK Trading Post
Two of our favorite things are horses and mountain trails, and the OK Trading Post combines these perfectly. There are a number of experiences and adventures to choose from that offer a unique way to experience the beauty of the world surrounding the Ozark Mountains. You do not need previous riding experience as the trails are geared towards beginners. There are different lengths of trails that go through the forests, and some are even long enough to include overnight camping. If you are visiting with children, there is a petting zoo, and there is also a small shop on the premises.
The local Peace Pole is actually part of a global initiative that encourages peace around the world. It was initially started in Japan more than 50 years earlier and involved the planting of these poles in towns that support the peace initiative. Initial discussions around the Mountain View Peace Pole started back in 2013. Many meetings were held trying to decide on the stone to be used and the appropriate language in which to make the inscription May Peace Prevail on Earth. Eventually, it was decided that American English, Wolof, Irish, Gaelic, and Cherokee would be used as these languages are central to the cultures that formed Mountain View.
Sylamore Creek Swinging Bridge
This historic bridge was the first bridge in Mountain View on the first road leading through the Ozark National Forest. The bridge was extremely important when it came to the transportation of essential goods from one end of the forest to the other. Sadly, in 1982, the road did not make it through a torrential rainstorm in the area. It took three years for the bridge to be rebuilt. Today it is a historic site that offers visitors a chance to image what travel was like when the town was first established.
The Old Mill
Speaking of historical sites, along Mirror Lake you can find the Old Mill, which was originally built in 1914. There are now Indigenous artifacts, original equipment, and old tools all over the site. The traditional golden-oldie country store that can be found there sells antiques, local produce, and a host of other things that attract visitors.
Washington Street Park
In the center of Mountain View is a little park called Washington Street Park. You’ll find local musicians and pickers in the park practicing their art for all to see. Nearby is the Mountain View Meeting Place, where local musicians participate in a free country music show for visitors. These are not fancy venues, but are rather close to the basic roots of life in the area a hundred years ago.
Ozark Folk Center State Park
If touring a herb garden, viewing artists while they work, and listening to live Southern mountain music in the same place sound like a fantastic idea then the Ozark Folk Center State Park is the right place to be. However, remember that the Ozark Folk Center is only open between April and November. Visitors can learn about the culture and what makes the Ozarks so special. More than twenty different artists have made their home here.
Blanchard Springs Caverns
To visit Blanchard Springs Caverns you need to book one of three tours with the Forest Service Guides. The caves are truly spectacular and offer visitors the rare opportunity of making their own discoveries in the cave. It is also classified as a ‘living cave’.
Tours through the cave lead into passageways made by water carving out pieces of stone. There is also an underground river and the biggest flowstone in the world. There is also a visitor’s center, campground, and various biking and hiking trails in the area.
History of Mountain View
This small town is fairly isolated in North-Central Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains. It is well known for preserving traditional culture and folk music. The local musical citizens gather in the courthouse square to play for everyone, and this is just one of the things that attracts so many tourists.
The original town was established by Thomas Augustus Riggs, but after the war the location of the town changed slightly. Towns with Southern sympathies were expected to incorporate, so it moved altogether a few miles and became Mountain View. Today the place has a spectacular heritage and has been through a lot, including the deadliest tornado outbreak in two decades which resulted in major damage that needed a lot of work to repair and rebuild.
This small town has managed to produce several famous residents, including the actor Dick Powell whose childhood home was here well into the 2010s. Perhaps the most famous was Jimmy Driftwood who is known to have been a well-known face on the Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw. He also wrote songs like Grandpa Jones, Tennessee Stud, and Battle of New Orleans.
Education and Industry in Mountain View, Arkansas
Even within this relatively small town, or at least far from the largest city in the state, but there are some tertiary education opportunities locally. Like the two-year institution known as Ozarka College which has a branch in town. There are also several schools in the area that have good reputations.
The government has local county offices here and is currently the largest employer of Mountain View locals. Other major industries are agriculture and timber. Large industry employers are the Stone County Ironworks and Conestoga Wood Specialties.
The Gilded Age to the Early Twentieth Century
Before the Civil War there was no Mountain View, and no Stone County; it was all part of Izard County and only a handful of settlers lived in the area. Stone County itself was established in 1873 and the location of the seat of government was identified towards its center. There were initial debates about the name of the new county seat, and the decision of Mountain View was hard won. Once a log cabin was built as the county courthouse, one local business followed another and the town grew around the county seat. By 1890, Mountain View, AR was officially a town.
In the early twentieth century Mountain View, AR grew quite fast and the Academy that was founded here drew a lot of students in the early 1900s. Around 1937 Mountain View Waterworks was constructed and the community is still served by them today. Throughout World War I and World War II, the town continued to grow, but the heritage of the war was not lost in the area as many of the young people were lost in the wars, which had a significant impact on the city’s economy. Additionally, there were major fires in the area that caused a lot of damage, which has luckily been repaired, and most of those buildings are still standing and have been restored.
World War II to the Modern Era
Local industry is largely based on timber, or agriculture in the form of poultry and beef. However, this was not something that existed immediately as the community struggled to attract any industry because it was so far out and difficult to access. The majority of roads leading into Mountain View, AR were only paved in the 60s and 70s as a final attempt to attract visitors that were either tourism related or related to industry.
A further attempt to try and bring people to the town was undertaken by people who loved the local mountain music. This led to the first Arkansas Folk Festival in 1963 which showcased the rich tradition of Mountain View, AR. The Ozark Folk Center and Ozark National Forest further attracted. The folk music festival has always been quite successful in drawing visitors. The Ozark Folk Center was established in the 70s by Jimmy Driftwood and other musical citizens. The idea for the Ozark Folk Center State Park came to be following the success of the festival. To raise more money for the city to build and maintain the sewer and water system suggestions were made that the city seek federal funding to build a music auditorium. With the founding of the Ozark Folk Center State Park the city had access to the sewer and water system instated for the state park. With the addition of the second festival: the Bean Fest, tourism was further increased. Today Mountain View remains a major tourism hub in the area.