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Ouachita Mountains

Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachita Mountain Region is on the western side of Arkansas with the Gulf Coastal Plain to the south and the Arkansas River Valley to the north.  The east-west mountain range known as the Ouachitas occupy this region.  These mountains extend into Oklahoma and range from 300' to 2,681'.  They consist mostly of Paleozoic sandstones, shale and novaculites.  The most prominent hard rock mineral is quartz crystal for which this region is known.  Quartz mining is done in this area especially near Mt. Ida, a region known for these crystals.  The novaculites of these mountains were used as whetstones by many people including Native Americans and early settlers .  The Caddo Indian tribe had large settlements in this area.

Thermal springs are a feature of this region.  In Arkansas' early history, these waters were sought by native Indian tribes and even explorers, as they were thought by many to be therapeutic.  In the past, politicians, movie stars and even crime leaders came to Hot Springs to bathe in the waters.  Today, many visitors still come to this region's largest city, Hot Springs, to admire these springs and use the bath houses there. Arkansas' only horse-racing park is located in Hot Springs.  Oaklawn attracts many visitors to the races held there every year.

The many parks located in this area include:  Cossatot, Daisy, DeGray, Hot Springs National Park, Lake Catherine, Lake Greeson, Lake Ouachita, Pinnacle Mountain and Queen Wilhelmina.  The major rivers of the area include:  the Ouachita, Cossatot, Little Missouri, Caddo and Saline. 

The east-west orientation of the Ouachita Mountains support pines on the south and hardwoods on the north sides of the range.  At the top of Rich Mountain are very small trees, hundreds of years old, that are dwarfed because of harsher weather conditions in the higher altitude.  There are many scenic vistas and lovely places to stay and live in this diverse section of Arkansas.

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