February, 2020  

Gravel Riding - Fayetteville's Dirty Little Secret

Midway between the suffering associated with road cycling and the surfer-esque culture of mountain biking – gravel riding, sometimes referred to as gravel grinding, is erupting in popularity. A common road surface found in rural areas throughout the United States, gravel road riding has become cycling’s fastest growing discipline. Offering a more relaxed style than traditional paved road riding, cyclists are drawn to the low traffic and diverse scenery associated with gravel riding. It’s not uncommon to ride for hours without encountering a single car.

From first place to last, gravel racing - and an experience that embraces every participant - has helped champion the sport into the mainstream. For most, just finishing a gravel event is an accomplishment celebrated at the finish line.

Fayetteville, Arkansas was recently announced as the host community for the upcoming Arkansaw High Country Race*, a self-supported 1000+ mile ultra-endurance gravel cycling event starting from our Historic Downtown Square on Saturday, October 31, 2020.

From Fayetteville and pursuing gravel roads, cyclists will traverse the Ozark Mountains east to the Buffalo National River Corridor and then south into the Arkansas River Valley. From the River Valley riders dip west through the Ouachita Mountains along roller coaster ridges before climbing back north through the Ozark Mountains to the finish line in Fayetteville.

Find Your Next Gravel Riding Adventure in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Arkansan’s know a thing or two about gravel roads. Per mile Arkansas is ranked 9th in the country for its expansive gravel road networks, and that doesn’t account for the remote gravel snaking through over 2.8 million acres of National Forest lands in the state.

Nestled in the Boston Mountain range of the Ozark Mountains, Fayetteville offers miles of accessible gravel roads. Fayetteville, and the rest of Washington County, quietly maintains one of the largest county road systems in Arkansas, including over 500 miles of gravel roads.

Unique in distinction, the Boston Mountain range features the greatest difference in elevation of any formation between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. While drawn-out and on occasion arduous climbs can be customary, miles of outstretching descents balance a gratifying gravel riding experience.

There’s no shortage of scenery around Fayetteville as the Ozark Mountains form a rustic landscape lined with blufftop views of river filled valleys. Rich in history, traces of Civil War era homes and cabins still line the countryside and are commonplace along gravel roads in the area.

The region is heavily forested, and gravel riders can expect backcountry gravel roads covered in tree canopies of oak and hickory. On lesser traveled roads ribbons of grass can mark the middle as local traffic often adopts a single lane for driving.

With miles of calm county gravel roads leading cyclists deep into the Ozark National Forest - a backdrop of mountains and undiscovered gravel experiences await cyclists that select Fayetteville as their next gravel riding destination. Centrally located, cyclists will find Fayetteville to be a day’s drive from Kansas and Missouri in the Midwest, Texas and Oklahoma in the Southwest, or Tennessee in the Southeast.

*Registration for the 2020 Arkansaw High Country Race opened February 15, 2020. Click here for a direct link to register. Additional race information can be found here.

Cycling Coordinator

Cycling Coordinator