Our National Geographic book writes about the CCC building the Glade Scenic Drive on FR147. Noted for its Smoke Trees, fall colours and views over the prairies....
...but even knowing that we're still a wee bit early to see the full Autumn Fall colors, we are going to take it anyway.This you see will be our last attempt to see the Fall colours before we head across Kansas back to Denver. We've been chasing them since Shenandoah weeks ago and we don't have any more time to wait for them. The Aspens in Colorado on the other hand will be almost over and done with by now!
Big Henry making progress along the Glade Scenic Drive...autumn colours just starting to happen.
Mark Twain National Forest's Glade Top Trail is Missouri's only National Scenic Byway. The 23 mile trail weaves through narrow ridge tops above the surrounding rolling countryside. Travelers are treated to numerous scenic views that reach the Springfield Plateau to the northwest and south to the St. Francis and Boston Mountains in Northern Arkansas. The Glade Top Trail became a part of the National Forest Scenic Byways system in 1989. The system contains over 3,500 miles of scenic roads located in 27 states. Each Byway has certain features that meet the recreational, historical, educational, scientific, and cultural criteria required for designation.
Historically, the Glade Top Trail's significance is very important to many of the Douglas, Taney, and Ozark County residents who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. The trail has changed very little since CCC workers constructed the two-lane, all weather gravel road. Local residents have long recognized the scenic values of the area by sponsoring the "Flaming Fall Review" in celebration of the smoke tree's brilliant red/orange fall foliage.
Traditional fencing installed by CCC back in 1930's still in good shape, plus the beautiful treed countryside that surrounds
For the wildlife lover, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobwhite quail, squirrels, rabbits and numerous varieties of songbirds are prevalent within this section of the Mark Twain National Forest. The glades also provide a home for wildlife not often encountered in the Ozarks, such as the roadrunner, collared lizard, pygmy rattlesnake, stinging scorpion, and the Bachman's Sparrow, a state endangered species. We hear plenty of birdsong but see very little...too well camouflaged in the autumn colours.
At the high ridge point on the Glade Top Scenic Trail
The Blonde - we are heading now into Arkansas to Eureka Springs...I am on a mission to see a very special structure. A typical Ozarks road twists turns winds ups downs, there is not a single mile that is straight. Pretty coutryside flies by our windows but it is tiring. Very tiring.
"Why are we off to Eureka Springs?", David adds! Well, it’s all about Thorncrown Chapel. A stunning piece of architecture which I wanted to photograph. It takes a bit of finding and I suggest we take the scenic tour through the town first. Not the best tour for us in Big Henry. The streets are narrow with lots of parked cars and nowhere for us to stop BH to take a stroll. We hope on many a road in the town that we don't meet anyone coming the other way. It s a bit stressful and we do meet the local tram on a corner and thankfully just manage to squeeze by each other.....David having a moment with the tram driver!! Just to add to the traffic challenge, there is a Corvette car convention on for the weekend and there are hundreds and hundreds of Corvettes in bright yellow, red, blue, silver ones, convertibles, stylish and ordinary, parading through the town. All are buffed and polished with shiny chrome wheels and seem in the main to feature middle aged men and their female blond satnavs! Even if we could have found a parking David is not a huge fan of Corvettes.... or their drivers it seems..... and he doesn't need a record of us seeing them. I did suggest hanging on till the show-and-tell tomorrow but it met with a snort of derision!
Finally we find the chapel. It is stunning. Surrounded by tall trees in their autumn glory, its modern clean lines and openness make you feel you’re right in and amongst the trees.
Inside it's warm from underfloor heating. And light. In addition to the natural daylight flooding in everywhere there are clever wall mounted lights on each vertical beam which I discover have a cross on them. I initially thought this was not a consecrated building - but it is.
I asked the man at the entrance door if I could take photos. He was grumpy. Caretaker or owner? I don't know. But there was a wedding imminent and we're told we can only sit to take photos. And outside... "..don't stray off path even if you’re with the wedding party"..... Nevertheless we do manage to get some quick photos, not as much time to study as we would have liked but I felt it was worth the detour to see this amazing structure.
The weather is now closing in and the wedding party is about to make its entrance, so we scoot out and head back into Missouri. More twists and turns past Beaver Dam, popular for sailing and fishing. In and out of Arkansas in two hours! The are Amish here and there. Some selling baked goods on side of road and we spot a couple of buggies. Camping hereabouts is limited - it's a Walmart in Neosho just short of the Kansas state line until I spot a County Park which turns out to be just fine. A simple grassy site alongside a creek just off the road with a rail yard and lots of train horns to make us feel at home!