When visiting the Natural Bridge of Arkansas located three or four miles north of Clinton on Highway 65 one’s trip will start with scenic drive on a cozy paved road with a tree canopy roof. The aforementioned Natural Bridge road winds back into the woods to take you a step back into nature and lets you escape the busy world if only for an afternoon. With turns so sharp you can almost check your own taillights, I recall hearing Mr. Smith saying, you will find yourself making your way back towards Little Johnnie Creek when it opens up to a nice parking area. First one will notice the unique log cabin that doubles as a gift shop and check in. The cabin is one of two authentic log cabins moved to the property from other parts of Van Buren County in addition to a period wagon and too many items from yesteryear to mention. I would say that I have seen many pictures of the natural bridge but to truly appreciate the magnitude it is something that has to be seen in person.
The Natural Bridge of Arkansas has a long history with over a thousand years in the making. The earliest use of the area by man was by the Quapaw Indians that used the bridge and the adjoining overhangs as shelter. In later years the outlaw Belle Starr most well known for her association with the James-Younger gang used the area as a hideout in the mid 1800s. While not much information could be found to the properties use with exception of it providing a functional bridge for the loggers to remove product out of the valley. In the early 1960s the bridge and the surrounding area was developed as a tourist attraction and has been in service as such ever since.
The Natural Bridge of Arkansas was developed as a tourist attraction by the Johnson Family and stayed as such until it was purchased by Jim and Marcia Smith in 2013. Speaking with Mr. Smith you will find he truly enjoys his job and the diversity of the people he gets to meet on a daily basis. This diversity can be seen by his log books and the numerous places that he attracts visitors from. Dating from the first of the year to the end of June the Smiths have attracted visitors from 46 different states and 14 countries. The Natural Bridges season runs from mid March till Veterans Day 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can be found at 1120 Natural Bridge Road Clinton AR.