02 February, 2024

The Perfect Day trip to Talimena Scenic byway

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Talimena National Scenic Byway is a 54 mile mountain drive in Ouachita National Forest. 

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Our Love for Scenic Drives:

We love scenic drives and we have covered most of the scenic drives in Colorado a few years ago. While Mt Evans Scenic Byway is amazing as the North America's highest paved road, Pikes Peak Scenic byway makes you see jaw-dropping scenery on the drive. 

The Million Dollar Highway is spectacular to drive in between the red mountains and beautiful views. The Skyline Drive in Canon City is the most underrated one. 

The Trail Ridge road in Rocky Mountains National park is really a pride of Colorado. Watching the mountain goats, and snow capped peaks on the way, it is quite dangerous as well at a few places without guard rails. These are other scenic drives in Colorado.

Ross Maxwell Scenic drive in BigBend makes you feel like you are driving through ancient untouched rough terrain. The Scenic drive in Capitol Reef cannot be matched to any scenery we have seen so far and the dirt road scenic drives - Capital Gorge and Grand Wash are once in a life time experience to drive. 

The US route 89 between Zion and Bryce Canyon is the most amazing road to drive. The breathtaking scenery of the majestic red rocks, tunnels and mountains leave us astonished at the beauty of the mother Earth.

The winding roads surrounded by mountains is always a treat to watch. Since we moved to Texas, Talimena scenic byway is nearer to us now. 

Talimena Scenic Byway:

Talimena Scenic byway got it's name by combining the starting and ending names of towns that it's connecting - Talihina, Oklahoma and Mena, Arkansas.

 Fall is the most popular time to visit and fall foliage peaks around End of October or first week of November.

How to Reach?

It can be reached in 3.5 hrs from Dallas, Tx (200 miles) or 3 hrs from Oklahoma City (180 miles).

You can check Rental Car options here.


We stayed in Mena, Arkansas as we couldn't get accommodation in Talihina, Oklahoma. 

Best Time to Visit?

Late October to Early November is the popular time to drive this road. The fall foliage is wonderful during that time. 

We visited a week late, still fall colors are good, but it would have been good to drive in the first week of November / last week of October.

Scenic Drive:

We stayed in Mena, Arkansas. We started our drive from Mena to Talihina through Arkansas highway 88 and Oklahoma state highway 1.

There are many scenic view points marked on the way to stop and enjoy the panoramic views. The drive is 54 miles long. Without stopping, It takes around 1hr 10 mins to drive.

There are 22 scenic vista points, but these are the best.

  • Grand view vista

  • Panorama Vista

  • Shawnee Vista

  • Sunset Point Vista

  • Queen Wilhelmina State Park

Rich Mountain Lookout tower:

It is not allowed to climb on the tower, but it's great to watch this fire tower (2681 ft) from nearer.

Rich Mountain lookout tower

Queen Wilhelmina State Park:

This is the top destination on Talimena Scenic drive. Once, it's known as 'Castle of the Sky', there is an old lodge built in 1898. The mountain views from the lodge are great and there are some hiking trails and the Lover's leap trail is one just mile long.

Mountains around Wilhelmina State park

There is a 2 story rock building - Wonder house, which is interesting to watch.

Wonder House


There is an old locomotive near the parking area.

The Heavener Runestone is located 30 mins north of scenic byway, where there are some mysterious characters carved by Viking Explorers. A fun side trip if you have time.

If you are into history, visit Horse thief springs and Pioneer cemetery.

The scenic drive ended at Talihina, OK. Here are some good restaurants near Talimena Scenic drive :

  • The Queens Restaurant inside the lodge at Queen Wilhelmina State Park
  • The Ouachitas
  • The Skyline Cafe

We drove to Caddo Lake State park after this scenic drive and visited Beavers bend state park on the way. Broken Bow is a beautiful bustling town on the way. Broken Bow lake and Beavers Bend state park near Broken Bow are a nice stop.

Will see you on my next travelogues covering Caddo Lake state park, Beavers Bend state park and Daingerfield State park.

Until next time,


  1. Love the detailed info you have here, Mahathi. Amazing place and views!


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