Mena, Arkansas -- It's that time of the year again -- time to get ready for the holidays and also time to load the family up for a memorable day enjoying the scenic vistas along Talimena Scenic Drive in southeastern Oklahoma and west central Arkansas.
From the Texoma Region, a three-hour drive will put you in the finest mountain drive this side of the Appalachians. In fact, many compare this 54-mile winding ribbon of mountainous driving with the famous Blue Ridge Parkway that traverses much of Virginia and North Carolina.
There is one interesting difference, however. Unlike the Appalachians and almost all other mountain ranges in the U.S., the Talimena Scenic Drive runs along the spine of the Ouachita Mountains, a rare east-west mountain range.
Along the way, take advantage of 22 scenic vista parking areas to stretch your legs and read the history of these ancient mountains that were once as tall as the Rockies.
If you really want to stretch your legs, consider the Ouachita National Recreational Trail, a 223-mile-long hiking path that runs from Talimena State Park in southeastern Oklahoma central Arkansas near Little Rock.
Rich Mountain, second tallest peak in Arkansas, is on the eastern portion of this drive. Mena, Arkansas offers a few places to have lunch and then it's back over the mountains and back to North Texas.