A 54-mile stretch of highway that winds along the mountain ridges of western Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma has been designated a National Scenic Byway, the U.S. Forest Service said recently in a news release.
The Talimena Scenic Byway is named for its portal communities of Mena, Ark., and Talihina, Okla. The byway extends west from Mena through the Ouachita National Forest as Arkansas 88, and becomes Oklahoma 1 when it crosses the state line, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
It was one of 45 roadways to receive the national designation at a Federal Highway Administration ceremony last month in Washington, according to the release. "This is a tremendous cultural and promotional opportunity for Arkansas and Oklahoma because the new designation will increase awareness of our region," Alan Newman, supervisor of the Ouachita National Forest, said in the release.
Talimena Scenic Byway is eligible "for additional funding, technical assistance and support for upgrading the road, as well as national and international marketing," Newman said.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the U.S. secretary of transportation designates roads as byways, either All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways, based on their archaeological, cultural or historic significance, or their recreational or scenic qualities, the release said.
The website for the Talimena scenic drive, www.talimenascenicdrive.com, says the two state area "offers scenic beauty, outdoor adventure and enlightening historical and educational experiences.... Visitors can enjoy canoeing, white-water rafting, trout fishing and hang gliding or learn about Native Americans, the Civil War and even Viking explorers."