Posted 12/9/2013 12:00 am
Located in the Ozark Mountains, Harrison is a central hub for travelers heading to Eureka Springs, the Buffalo National River or Branson, Mo. The city has utilized its location and natural beauty to promote a number of motorcycle routes branching from its center, giving riders scenic memories of their time in the Natural State.
Four main routes have been plotted. The 110-mile Ozark Moonshine Run encompasses parts of Scenic Highway 7. The Bull Shoals Dam Route leads riders east toward Bull Shoals Lake. The Peel Ferry Route takes travelers to one of the few state-run ferry crossings left in Arkansas. The popular Eureka Springs Backroads Route is the longest, taking four hours to complete.
“Harrison is blessed that no matter which direction you go, beautiful scenery and even challenging riding awaits,” said Harrison Mayor Jeff Crockett, who is a rider himself.
Bringing riders into Harrison also brought the city a 2013 Arkansas Business City of Distinction Award for Tourism Development in cities with populations between 5,000 and 20,000 people.
“Our Conventions and Visitors Bureau plays an active role with the motorcycle community, holding motorcycle rallies, and other promotional events geared to the motorcycle enthusiast,” said Crockett. The rides have been a successful draw because, according to the riders themselves, the routes contain plenty of curves – or “twisties.”
The goal in mapping and promoting these routes, even though they take visitors away from Harrison in the process, is to showcase the geographical beauty of the area. Local merchants benefit with a stable influx of revenue to the local economy. And by promoting the area to tourists on wheels, news travels fast to other travelers who hear about roads that aren’t as publicized (or as crowded) as other routes.
Over 200,000 individual bikers are estimated to have visited the region annually. The bikers come to Harrison and are welcomed with open arms. These aren’t the motorcycle gangs you’re used to seeing in old drive-in movies made in Hollywood. Today’s motorcyclists are typically retired people, riding expensive equipment with plenty of time to travel and disposable income to spend.
“Harrison learned early on that the motorcycle community is a true benefit and we intend to never let them go,” says Crockett.
There are more than six million registered motorcyclists in the United States. Harrison is just happy to be along for the ride.