One of the places I was most interested in visiting on my trip to Eureka Springs was the Blue Spring Heritage Center. It’s a mix of history and beautiful landscape, and definitely worth the trip!
(This post originally appeared on my old blog on September 22, 2014 and has been updated in 2022.)
Getting to Blue Spring Heritage Center:
Blue Spring Heritage Center is just 15 minutes from historic downtown Eureka Springs. On the way along Highway 62, you’ll pass Thorncrown Chapel and Lake Leatherwood, which are both worth stopping at!
That bit of the sign where it says “1 1/2 Scenic Miles” – they’re not kidding! I kept wanting to snap pics as I was driving but given that the road was quite narrow and twisty, it didn’t seem like a very good idea even though I only saw one or two other cars along the way. The highway leading here (both from Bentonville and from Eureka Springs) is, believe it or not, WAY crazier! You can only go 20-30 mph for several miles because it twists and turns and dips like crazy.
What’s it like to visit Blue Spring Heritage Center?
There’s ample parking once you arrive, and I chose a spot that was a bit far from the entrance to take advantage of some shade. (It was HOT on the day I visited!) The only restrooms are next to the parking lot, so be sure to make your stop there before heading in!
You enter the Blue Spring Heritage Center through the Trading Post, where you can buy tickets and learn about the best path for touring the sights within. (You’re free to wander around as you wish, but I found that the path they outlined for me was perfect!) They also sell a variety of souvenirs, including a great selection of Native American history books.
The suggested first stop on the map is a small building where you can view a film about a recent dive expedition down into the spring. Given that I’d spent a good bit of the morning sick from getting overheated (more about that in another post!), I happily sat through the whole 20 minute film, enjoying the chance to rest comfortably and cool off in the nice, chilly air conditioning. That rest in a cool, dark room was exactly what I needed to feel refreshed enough to go explore, so it worked out perfectly! Small children might not sit through the entire film, but stopping in to watch for a while will enhance your experience here if you’re someone like me whose enjoyment of a place grows as you learn more about it.
There’s also a cool display of local history as you enter the building that houses the film. Loved these vintage Eureka Springs postcards!
Now that I’ve visited the Eureka Springs Historical Museum, and done the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour and Downtown & Underground city tour, I have a whole new appreciation for these displays! This is exactly why I love history – knowing the story makes the places and things you see SO much more interesting!
Be sure to visit my post about the Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour if you want to know more about this Baker Hospital brochure! The history is even crazier than you could possibly imagine!
They have a map of the Eureka Springs from 1893. So much is the same!
Blurry photo of the film room where I enjoyed the AC for quite a while before setting off to explore. Sorry that this is the only one I took!
Here’s the thing: When I was sorting through photos trying to pick which ones to include in this post, I got stuck because they almost all turned out super pretty! This says absolutely nothing about my photography skills and everything about how pretty the waters and gardens were. So without further ado, here are a bunch of pictures of pretty outdoorsy things. (There’s pretty much no editing here, btw – the water really is that color.)
Reminded me a little of a Monet painting
Fun fact: If you look up Blue Spring Heritage Center on Google Maps, this photo of mine comes up! I’m kind of flattered.
The Native American history of Blue Spring was especially interesting to me since my grandfather was Cherokee. The Cherokee called this area “the land of blue skies and laughing waters”, which made me happy because a) it fits my blog title, and b) it’s just a fun name.
Many other tribes used this area for healing, ceremonies, and as a trading place as far back as 1700 A.D., but the Cherokee spent the most time here as they walked the Trail of Tears. It’s a strange sensation to stand beneath the bluff and imagine the people who used it as a shelter as they rested on such a long, sad journey.
There’s a lot of walking involved here, but it’s a beautiful walk! Although there is a way to get around the park that avoids the use of any stairs, I don’t think I’d classify Blue Spring Heritage Center as especially wheelchair or mobility disability friendly. If you do have concerns regarding being able to get around, the staff at the trading post may be able to make suggestions to make sure you get the most out of your visit. (I heard them explain an alternate path to a woman who had her foot in a cast, offering a way to see as much as possible without overdoing it.)
If you’re visiting Blue Spring Heritage Center in the warmer months, definitely bring some water along! Although there are plenty of places to rest as you walk around, few of them are shaded, so given the mid-90s temperature when I visited, I didn’t spend as long exploring as I would have on a cooler day. I actually ended popping back into the room where the film is shown for a few minutes on my way out, just to cool off in the air conditioning!
As far as what to wear, I was in a lightweight dress and flip flops and got around just fine, so pretty much any comfortable footwear should do. There is one spot where you can hang your feet down into the cold water of the spring, so shoes that can easily be slipped on/off are a good idea if you want to get your feet wet. (And trust me, with 50-something degree water, I was wishing it was allowed to totally jump in!)
Blue Spring Heritage Center is definitely on my list of places to return to the next time I’m in the Eureka Springs area! Judging by the photos that I saw on TripAdvisor before my trip, I couldn’t quite figure out why everyone raved so much, but it didn’t take long to understand it once I was there. I’d recommend a visit here to anyone who enjoys a beautiful, peaceful walk outdoors, and even more so to those who are also interested in history or archaeology. It was my first stop in Eureka Springs, which worked out perfectly since I was definitely ready for a break from my car after the drive there!
Handy Info and Links:
Admission: $13.75 adults, $7.50 kids, 5 and under free
Open mid-March through mid-November
Looking for more fun things to do in Eureka Springs? Check out my other posts here!
Planning a future visit? Pin this post so you can refer to it later!
My original post had some great comments, so I took a screenshot of them to post here so they won’t be lost!