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Boston Mountains Scenic Loop

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Title: Boston Mountains Scenic Loop  
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Subject: Fayetteville, Arkansas, Greenland, Arkansas, Ozarks, Arkansas Highway 156, Arkansas Scenic Byways
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Boston Mountains Scenic Loop

Boston Mountains Scenic Loop
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;">Section 1
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South end: I-40, Alma
North end: I-540, Fayetteville
;">Section 2
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South end: I-40, Alma
North end: U.S. 71, Fayetteville
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;">Highway system
  • Arkansas Highway System

The Boston Mountains Scenic Loop is one of ten Arkansas Scenic Byways. There are two different paths that constitute the loop, Interstate 540 and U.S. Route 71.

Route description

I-540

The route runs through the Boston Mountains (a subsection of The Ozarks) in Arkansas for 38 miles (61 km) in Crawford and Washington Counties.[1][2] The route begins at Alma and runs north to Fayetteville. The route includes the Bobby Hopper Tunnel, the only tunnel in Arkansas. This portion of I-540 was completed in 1999 to bypass the aging US 71.

US 71

Also part of the loop, 42 miles (68 km) of US 71 is designated as part of the route.[3] The US 71 segment allows the traveler to go at their own pace through the area. There are many areas to stop and explore along the US 71 segment, opposed to the bustling interstate segment. The route also passes through a number of small towns that the interstate bypasses. It also begins in Alma and ends in Fayetteville.

Points of interest

History

The first routes through the area were Native American Trails, later formalized into the Ozark Highlands Trails. These rough roads became obsolete with the establishment of the Butterfield Overland Mail, a stagecoach route from St. Louis, Missouri to San Francisco, California that traversed the Boston Mountains in Northwest Arkansas. This route has been preserved in part as Arkansas Highway 265 and is well marked throughout Fayetteville and other Northwest Arkansas cities. US 71 replaced the stagecoach route when the United States Numbered Highways system came to Arkansas in 1926.

U.S. Route 71 in conjunction with Arkansas Highway 23 served the Northwest Arkansas area for many years, but as the area grew the routes became congested. The need for a limited-access highway became apparent, and Interstate 540 was completed through the area by 1999.

Future

Interstate 540 will someday be included in an extended Interstate 49, which will connect New Orleans, Louisiana to Kansas City. The route is currently marked as the Number 1 High Priority Corridor on the nation's transportation need list.

References

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