50 Interesting & Fun Facts About Arkansas State to Discover

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Aerial view of a cityscape with a clear sky in the background
Little Rock, the state capital, with the State Capitol building in the distance

When you hear someone referring to "The South," Arkansas isn't usually the first place that comes to mind. You probably think of Georgia or maybe Tennessee.

Arkansas is not a very populated state, and it usually flies under the radar. However, that doesn't mean it's boring! Far from it, actually!

There are many interesting and fun facts about Arkansas state that are worth knowing, ranging from cool and historically significant to even a little weird!

It doesn't matter if you've never been to the state before or have lived here your whole life; there's bound to be some Arkansas trivia you don't know! Some of these facts might even make you want to plan a trip down South!

So, get ready to learn about this underrated little corner of the USA. Continue reading for 50 facts about Arkansas state that will fascinate you!

  • 50 Arkansas facts

50 Arkansas State Facts

  1. Arkansas Fun Facts
    1. Arkansas was the 25th state in the USA
    2. Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto discovered the area
    3. William Jefferson Clinton was born here
    4. Arkansas brought cheese dip to the US
    5. The Buffalo National River isn't dammed
    6. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a forest exhibit
    7. The Ouachita Mountains are one-of-a-kind
    8. You can find diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park
    9. Hot Springs National Park has been open since the 1800s
    10. Louisiana Purchase State Park began the land surveying
    11. The Arkansas River is a Mississippi River tributary
    12. The 20th century brought great changes to the state
    13. Mount Magazine is the highest point
    14. The West Gulf Coastal Plain covers most of the state
    15. The civil rights movement changed state voting laws
  2. Interesting Facts About Arkansas
    1. Little Rock Central High School was important in desegregation
    2. Arkansas Post National Memorial marks the first settlement in the area
    3. The Arkansas River valley divides the Ozarks and the Ouachita
    4. Ozark Folk Center State Park is a living landmark
    5. There were four main groups of Native Americans here
    6. It's called the "Natural State"
    7. Arkansas switched sides in the Civil War
    8. It's the 33rd state by population
    9. Little Rock is the biggest city
    10. There are over 200 days of sunshine
    11. The white-tailed deer is the state animal
    12. It has a diverse landscape
    13. The lowest elevation is 55 feet
    14. Johnny Cash was born here
    15. The oldest American lived here
  3. Funny Facts About Arkansas
    1. There's a world championship duck calling contest
    2. Arkansas used to have the USA's largest ostrich farm
    3. The highest speed limit is 75 mph
    4. It's also called the "Bear State"
    5. There's a World Cheese-Dip Championship
  4. Weird Facts About Arkansas
    1. The Dover Lights are unexplained
    2. The biggest diamonds found in America were found here
    3. It's a landlocked state
    4. Mammoth Spring is one of the world's largest springs
    5. The final "s" in the name is silent
  5. Cool Facts About Arkansas
    1. The mockingbird is the state bird
    2. There are over 600 thousand acres of lakes
    3. It's one of the most affordable states
    4. The first woman senator was from Arkansas
    5. Agriculture leads the state's economy
  6. Historical Facts About Arkansas
    1. It was a US territory before it was a state
    2. The name means "downstream place"
    3. Rice is a historic crop in the state
    4. A contest decided the state flag
    5. There was a "hangin' judge" of the Old West here

Show all

Arkansas Fun Facts

A white capitol building with a dome under a cloudy sky
The Arkansas State Capitol in its capital city, Little Rock

Arkansas was the 25th state in the USA

Starting this list of fun Arkansas facts and history is the fact that it was the 25th state to join the Union. It became a state in June 1836.

However, it had been the property of the US since well before then. It was purchased from the French in 1803 and became a territory in 1819.

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto discovered the area

Like most US states, Arkansas was discovered by a European explorer long before it became a state. The first European to explore the area that would become known as Arkansas was Hernando de Soto from Spain in 1541.

However, he didn't actually claim or colonize the land. That didn't happen until over a century later.

William Jefferson Clinton was born here

When you hear the name William Jefferson Clinton, you might be a little confused. Perhaps that's because he was best known as President Bill Clinton.

The 42nd president of the USA was born in Hope, Arkansas, in 1946. He served two consecutive terms as president after a long and successful political career. To this day, he's still considered one of the most popular presidents.

Arkansas brought cheese dip to the US

You may not know it, but cheese dip is an important part of Arkansas history. Though queso is originally from Latin America, it was first introduced to America in Arkansas.

In 1935, the Mexico Chiquito restaurant in Hot Springs, AR, was the first documented place in the US to serve the delicious dip to the masses. Since then, it has spread across the country.

Plants and trees on the rocky banks of a shallow river running through a forest
The Buffalo National River wasn't dammed to preserve its natural beauty

The Buffalo National River isn't dammed

Dams are used on many major rivers in the US to contain water. Dams help create reservoirs that are then used to generate electricity or prevent flooding.

So, it's strange when a major river like the Buffalo National River doesn't have a dam. However, that's exactly the case. Due to the characteristic look it gives to the Ozarks, it was believed building a dam on the river would take too much away from its natural beauty.

CJHPhotography/Depositphotos.com
A pond in front of a modern structure made of glass and metal with autumn trees
Crystal Bridges Museum houses a variety of artwork, including pop art by Warhol

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a forest exhibit

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has one of the most extensive collections of art from American artists spanning different styles. Warhol's pop art can be found alongside Americana art by Rockwell.

What makes the museum even more special is that it's not in a simple building. The structure takes up 120 acres of the Ozark forest.

The buildings are quite modern but are also made to look like they're part of nature. There are even miles of hiking trails around the property.

Mountains covered with autumn foliage in shades of green, orange, and yellow
The Ouachita Mountains are tied to legends about rebellious spirits

The Ouachita Mountains are one-of-a-kind

One of the most interesting Arkansas facts has to do with the state's Ouachita Mountain range. Most mountains in the US follow a similar layout. The Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains, for example, both run from north to south.

However, the Ouachita Mountains actually run from east to west across the state. Even Native Americans noticed this difference, and the mountains became the center of various legends about rebellious spirits.

You can find diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Did you know that if you visit Arkansas, you have a decent chance of finding diamonds? These precious gems are regularly seen and found in the area without the use of expensive mining equipment.

One of the best places to search is Crater of Diamonds State Park. The park is one of the only places that allows casual public digging for diamonds in designated areas.

Steam rising up from a hot spring below a rocky cliff with plants
A hot spring in Hot Springs National Park, a popular health retreat

Hot Springs National Park has been open since the 1800s

Hot Springs National Park has always been a popular destination for travelers. The park was opened as a health retreat location in 1807. Before opening as a health retreat, the park had already gained a reputation throughout the US for the naturally warm water that gives it its name.

However, this popularity continued to grow. By 1832, the government declared the area a national recreational area for the public.

Louisiana Purchase State Park began the land surveying

After the Louisiana Purchase, the US needed to become familiar with all the new territory that was suddenly in its possession. Surveying would assist in this by determining the landscape of the new land.

This surveying would determine what land could be used by settlers and what land needed to be used for other purposes. It was a long job that began at the place that is now Louisiana Purchase State Park, Arkansas, in 1815.

The Arkansas River is a Mississippi River tributary

The Mississippi River is the largest and arguably most important river in the country. It begins in northern Minnesota and eventually ends in the Gulf of Mexico.

The river, however, not only runs through Arkansas, but it also has one of its most important tributaries in the state. The Arkansas River adds water to the Mighty Mississippi to ensure it flows consistently.

The 20th century brought great changes to the state

The 20th century saw a lot of change in the USA. Perhaps the biggest example of this could be seen in Arkansas.

The early years of the century saw great growth in the state as it built a new state capitol and began legislating. The state was hit hard during the Great Depression, and the civil rights movement created a lot of conflict within Arkansas that created a whirlwind that lasted for years.

A viewing deck on top of a mountain overlooking a green valley below
Cameron Bluff Overlook on Mount Magazine, the highest point in Arkansas

Mount Magazine is the highest point

If you search for info about Arkansas, you'll likely find out about the state's highest elevation point. Mount Magazine gets that title standing at 2,750 feet above sea level.

Not only is this peak the highest point in the state, but it's also the highest point in the US Interior Highlands. If you're interested in making the hike to the top, make sure you set aside around two hours for the trek.

The West Gulf Coastal Plain covers most of the state

Even though it has no border with the Gulf of Mexico, Arkansas is largely covered by the West Gulf Coastal Plains. This stretch of land covers much of south and central Arkansas.

The plain spans over 52 million acres. That much territory encompasses not just Arkansas but also parts of Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana.

The civil rights movement changed state voting laws

Before the civil rights movement, many states in the South tried to limit voting rights by instituting a "poll tax." That meant that if you couldn't afford to pay a fee, you wouldn't be able to vote.

This tax disproportionately affected African Americans in the South. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, which meant states like Arkansas had to remove this poll tax so that everyone had the chance to vote.

Interesting Facts About Arkansas

Aerial view of a city with buildings surrounded by greenery and a river behind it
Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock, the state's largest city and capital
A Gothic building made of bricks with a pond in front
One of the facts about Arkansas state is about the Little Rock Central High School

Little Rock Central High School was important in desegregation

In 1957, Little Rock Central High School was propelled to national fame. Three years earlier, it was decided by law that schools needed to be desegregated so all students could have the same educational opportunities.

This law was put to the test when nine African-American students enrolled in high school in Little Rock. They were almost denied attendance. The state Governor attempted to use force to keep the children from entering the school.

Arkansas Post National Memorial marks the first settlement in the area

Though first explored by the Spanish, Arkansas wasn't settled by Europeans until the 1600s. French colonists established the Arkansas Post near the Mississippi.

Initially, it was just used as a trading post due to the high traffic of travelers who passed through the area. Eventually, it expanded to become a complete city and started a chain of settlements in the lower Mississippi Valley.

Today, the memorial is recognized as a famous landmark in Arkansas and is a popular tourist attraction.

A rocky river surrounded by greenery with a mountain in the background on a sunny day
The Arkansas River divides Ouachita and the Ozarks and runs through 3 other states

The Arkansas River valley divides the Ozarks and the Ouachita

The Arkansas River valley divides two important natural terrains in Arkansas: [the Ozarks and the Ouachita mountains]. This area is a popular place for visitors due to its proximity to both mountain ranges.

Eureka Springs, for example, is a historic little town in the valley that was founded in 1849. It served as a place for travelers to replenish their supplies between mountain treks.

Ozark Folk Center State Park is a living landmark

No list of fun facts of Arkansas would be complete without mentioning Ozark Folk Center State Park. This area is considered a living history park because it encompasses places where locals live and work.

The park is open from April until October and offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the heritage of those who call the Ozarks home. Here you can see traditional artisan work being done and attend folk music events.

There were four main groups of Native Americans here

There are archeological signs that Native American tribes called the Arkansas area home since prehistoric times. However, these tribes changed over time.

There were four main Native American groups that made their homes within the state's borders. The Caddos, Quapaws, and Osages were always settled in the region, and some Cherokees settled in the state after being displaced from Georgia and Alabama.

It's called the "Natural State"

You're likely aware that most US states have a nickname as well as their official name. When these nicknames become popular enough, they're used in tourist literature and are printed on state license plates.

Arkansas has a few nicknames, but one of its most common is "The Natural State." That's because Arkansas has remained largely undeveloped. Much of the state's landscape is still quite natural, earning the state its moniker.

Arkansas switched sides in the Civil War

Arkansas is part of the South, so it's not surprising that it was part of the Confederacy. However, that wasn't the case initially.

Initially, the state voted to stay in the Union and didn't secede until May of 1861, a few months after the Confederacy was formed. However, the state had a very low population at the time and actually had soldiers fighting in both armies.

It's the 33rd state by population

Arkansas has never had a booming population. Since it has maintained its natural terrain, there hasn't been much room for development.

So, it's no surprise that with just over 3 million people, it's the 33rd state in terms of population. None of the state's cities have large numbers of residents. For example, Pine Bluff only has a population of around 43 thousand.

Little Rock is the biggest city

Little Rock is the Arkansas state capital. While some states chose their capitals based on their location, Little Rock was the obvious choice because it's the biggest city in the state.

Little Rock has a population of around 202 thousand people. After expanding to the edge of the Arkansas River, North Little Rock was formed and officially became its own city.

There are over 200 days of sunshine

One of the facts on Arkansas you might not have known is that the state has great weather. Since it's in the southern part of the US, it doesn't get very cold, but that's not all.

You won't have to worry about cloudy skies here. The state averages over 200 sunny days per year. It also rains less than 100 times a year.

A male white-tailed deer in the middle of a field of tall grass
The white-tailed deer has been the state animal of Arkansas since 1993

The white-tailed deer is the state animal

Arkansas has its fair share of state symbols. For example, the white-tailed deer is the state animal.

Though it's been an Arkansas symbol since 1993, Arkansas is not the only state to name this deer as a state symbol. Arkansas shares the white-tailed deer with 11 other states because it's native to so many places in the country.

It has a diverse landscape

Arkansas has one of the most diverse landscapes in the country. It has valleys and mountains, flat clearings and forests. It's often a favorite place for campers, hikers, and cross-country travelers because of this.

However, if you're looking for specific terrain, the northwest parts of the state tend to be more mountainous. In contrast, the southeast has more flatland.

The lowest elevation is 55 feet

While Arkansas' highest point is the highest elevation in the entire region, there's a 2000-foot difference between it and the lowest point in the state. The lowest point in Arkansas is just 55 feet above sea level.

Like many lower elevation points, this part of the state is found along a river. Where the Ouachita River borders Louisiana, the land drops to this elevation.

Johnny Cash was born here

Though he became famous in Memphis, country music legend, Johnny Cash was actually born in Arkansas. He was born in Kingsland in 1932.

In search of a better life, the family moved to Dyess, still within the state. This is where Johnny grew up until he decided to leave home to pursue his music career.

The oldest American lived here

The name Hester Ford may not mean much to many people, but it should. She was a supercentenarian which means she lived to be well over 100.

She was, in fact, 116 when she passed away. Though she spent most of her life in North Carolina, that's not where she was originally from. Initially, this special woman was from Arkansas.

Funny Facts About Arkansas

Buildings and houses surrounded by trees with a cloudy sky in the background
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is known for its national park, ostrich farm, and more

There's a world championship duck calling contest

If you want to impress your friends with funny facts about Arkansas, don't forget to mention the World's Championship Duck Calling Contest held in the state. Since 1936, it's been a source of state pride.

The contest is held every five years in Stuttgart over Thanksgiving weekend. Preliminaries are held across the country, so only the best duck callers compete in the final championship.

Arkansas used to have the USA's largest ostrich farm

Hot Springs, Arkansas, used to be known for a few things: its national park, its scenery, and its ostrich farm. The largest farm for these large birds in the US was once within the city's limits.

At its peak, over 300 ostriches were kept on the farm in the 1900s. Though the farm has been closed since 1953, its legacy still remains.

The highest speed limit is 75 mph

If you plan on driving in Arkansas, make sure to pay attention to the speed limit signs. While in residential areas, you likely won't go faster than 30 mph like in most states, you'll have to pick up the speed on the highway.

The highest speed limit in the state is 75 mph. That puts it on the higher end of national averages.

One of the facts about Arkansas state is that it is known as the "Bear State"
Arkansas is also known as the "Bear State" because of bears in the state's wilderness

It's also called the "Bear State"

While "The Natural State" may have become the official nickname for Arkansas, an informal moniker might be even more popular. The state has long been known as the "Bear State."

Black bears roam the state thanks to the abundance of wilderness areas here. Arkansas has also made efforts to conserve the bear population after it began to dip after the 1930s.

There's a World Cheese-Dip Championship

Since cheese dip is so important to Arkansas culture, it shouldn't be a surprise that there's a world cheese dip championship in the state. The event is held every year in Little Rock.

Competitors serve their dip each fall, and the winner is decided by a popular vote. It hasn't been going on long, but it's quickly become a treasured tradition.

Weird Facts About Arkansas

Several markers on a wide barren field with trees behind it
The largest diamond in the US was found in the now-famous Crater of Diamonds Park

The Dover Lights are unexplained

Fans of the unexplained love flocking to Dover, AR. The town has been subject to speculation for decades due to the mysterious lights that appear in the sky.

Many legends about the lights have spread throughout the state. Some say they're the ghosts of lost diamond miners. Others say it's gold that Spanish conquistadores never found. One thing is for sure, to this day, the lights remain a mystery.

The biggest diamonds found in America were found here

One Arkansas history fact no local to the state wants the world to forget is that it was the spot where the largest American diamond was found. Named Uncle Sam, the diamond was an impressive 40.23 carats and was found in Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Though the diamond was mostly clear, minerals in the ground during its formation caused it to have a pink hue. Unsurprisingly, this diamond caused a boom of hopeful miners in the area.

It's a landlocked state

Arkansas might have a varied landscape, but you won't find any coastlines in its territory. The state is completely landlocked.

It shares its borders with 6 other states: Missouri to the north, Louisiana to the south, Texas and Oklahoma to the west, and Tennessee and Mississippi to the east. However, its eastern border does run along the Mississippi river, which is a body of water.

Mammoth Spring is one of the world's largest springs

Mammoth Spring may be within a state park, but the spring itself is a national natural monument. It earned that title due to its size.

Mammoth Spring is one of the largest springs in the world. 9 million gallons of water flow over the spring's cascade every hour. The spring is the heart of the 62-acre natural park that shares its name.

The final "s" in the name is silent

A point of contention for many people who call Arkansas home is the way some people pronounce the state's name. Unlike most states. Arkansas isn't pronounced phonetically.

The final "s" in the name is either silent or is pronounced like a "w." Both of those options are acceptable to locals, but pronouncing it like you would "Kansas" isn't.

Cool Facts About Arkansas

View of a lake from under a tree on its bank on a clear day
The lakes in Arkansas cover around 600,000 acres
Looking up at a white and gray bird perched on an orange cement roof
The mockingbird has been Arkansas' state bird since 1929

The mockingbird is the state bird

Many people probably associate the mockingbird with Alabama due to its place in the classic "To Kill a Mockingbird." However, one of the interesting things about Arkansas is that it's actually the state bird for the state.

It's been a state symbol since 1929 due to its presence in the state. However, like the state animal, it's a popular state symbol that Arkansas shares with four other states.

There are over 600 thousand acres of lakes

Minnesota might be the land of 10,000 lakes, but Arkansas has its fair share of them as well. Throughout the entire territory, lakes take up 600 thousand acres.

These lakes not only create a diverse landscape but also allow for local flora and fauna to thrive. The state's lakes also provide much of the drinking water locals rely on.

It's one of the most affordable states

One of the most useful and interesting facts of Arkansas is that it's one of the most affordable states to live in. This is likely due to its lack of major cities which tend to raise prices.

Different analyses have been conducted that consider the different expenses that go into the cost of living in all 50 US states. Consistently, Arkansas has scored below the national average as far as expenses are concerned.

The first woman senator was from Arkansas

Women in politics may seem normal now, but that wasn't always the case. For many years, politicians were only men.

The first female US senator helped bring women to the forefront of political issues in the United States. That woman was Hattie Ophelia Caraway.

She served from 1931 until 1945. She was also from Arkansas.

Agriculture leads the state's economy

Arkansas has kept to its roots. It started as a state that relied heavily on agriculture, and it's remained that way to this day.

Farmland takes up almost 14 million acres of Arkansas land and is spread among over 40 thousand farms. Together, these farms bring the state about 25% of its annual revenue.

Historical Facts About Arkansas

Stone posts at the entrance to a park with a brick building
The entrance to Fort Smith National Park, a historic park in Arkansas

It was a US territory before it was a state

One of the interesting Arkansas history facts is that Arkansas became a state in 1836, but the country owned it before then. Arkansas was part of the territory acquired by the US during the Louisiana Purchase.

That meant that people were able to move and travel to the area without issues. However, it didn't get a say in federal decisions until after Arkansas won its petition for statehood.

The name means "downstream place"

Arkansas gets its name from the Quapaw Native Americans who lived in the area. They were known as the "people who live downstream" and were native to the territory that later became the state.

The state may be named after the Quapaw people, but the word actually comes from the Algonquian language, in which they were called "Akansa."

Rice is a historic crop in the state

Agriculture is important to the economy in Arkansas, but did you know that rice is one of the most important crops? Arkansas is the largest rice producer in the country.

45% of the rice grown in the US comes from the 40 counties in the state that grow the crop. Though different types of rice are grown, medium and long varieties do particularly well in the area.

A contest decided the state flag

One of the interesting facts about Arkansas's history is that its state flag was decided by the people who lived there. In 1913, Arkansas was still without an official state flag. To fix this problem, a contest was held.

Sixty-five flag submissions were entered into the contest, which was then judged by a panel. The winning design came from Willie Hocker and was later approved by the state Senate.

There was a "hangin' judge" of the Old West here

Fort Smith was the headquarters for Judge Isaac Parker in the late 1800s. However, his jurisdiction didn't just cover the city; it extended out to the neighboring territories as well.

As a judge during the "Wild West" era, he saw a lot of lawlessness and became known for his strict sentencing. He earned the nickname the "hangin' judge" due to the number of criminals he sentenced to hanging.

In Summary

There's our list! How many of these facts did you already know, and how many were a complete surprise?

One thing is clear, Arkansas might be a humble state, but it's far from boring! It's got a unique history and culture that you won't find anywhere else in the South, let alone the entire United States.

You know what else? 50 is a long list of facts, but it doesn't even scratch the surface of everything there is to know about Arkansas! Take these facts as a starting point for your own research on the state; there's plenty more to learn!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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