Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Mammoth Spring, AR

  • Published 2022/11/15

On the borders of Arkansas and Missouri lies a tiny city with lots of wonders: beautiful and tranquil Mammoth Spring.

With less than a thousand permanent residents, Mammoth Spring is one of the smallest city’s in the US, but it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to see here.

In fact, this small community is named after the largest freshwater spring anywhere in the state — Mammoth Spring.

It’s part of the Ozark Plateau, the most significant land feature in the region.

So the city becomes an excellent base for the many attractions on this side of the US.

But there are still a few attractions within the city to see aside from the body of water.

Here are the 20 best things to do in Mammoth Spring, AR:

Take a Dip in the Cool Waters of Mammoth Spring State Park

Picturesque view of the water flowing at Mammoth Spring State Park with a narrow bridge above it

James Haney /

The entirety of Mammoth Spring (the body of water, not the city) is housed in the scenic Mammoth Spring State Park.

This 65-acre attraction is located on the eastern edge of the city, serving as the top attraction for residents and visitors.

Over the years, the area has been developed to make it a more accessible tourist attraction.

So you’ll see viewing platforms, well-paved walking paths, and a hydroelectric dam on the southern section feeding the Spring River.

Still water at Mammoth Spring State Park

Paul R. Jones /

But even though there’s been a lot of development in the area, the springs remain pristine.

You’ll be amazed at the clear blue water bubbling quietly from the outlet pool.

Aside from marveling at the views of the spring, you can go fishing and kayaking on the next-door reservoir.

Swimming is also permitted, but stay in the designated areas to avoid disturbing the spring.

Signboard of Mammoth Spring State Park

Paul R. Jones /

Tour the Grand Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery

The beautiful Mammoth Spring National Fish Hatchery is located within the state park but serves an entirely different purpose.

As you might surmise from its name, the attraction is primarily a hatchery where fish spawn is raised and released later in the wild.

And while watching fish might not sound like an appealing experience, the hatchery offers an array of activities and attractions that will make the stop worth it.

The most prominent, of course, are the hatcheries, brimming with tiny fish and maturing adults ready for release.

There’s also a beautifully landscaped pond offering photo opportunities.

And don’t forget to check out the visitor center, where you’ll learn more about the hatchery and its purpose.

You’ll discover that this facility is actually the oldest hatchery in the entire US.

Learn Railroad History at Frisco Depot Museum

There’s another attraction in Mammoth Spring with superlative descriptions: the quaint Frisco Depot Museum.

This is the oldest train station in all of Arkansas, having been around since 1886.

So visiting here feels like being transported in the early 1900s, especially with the restored Victorian architecture of the facility.

Within the museum, you’ll find custom-made sculptures that depict the train crew and passengers—complete with attire used during the era.

There’s also the baggage room, which now houses artifacts detailing the history of Mammoth Spring, the depot, and the railroad system.

Don’t forget to check out the Frisco Caboose, parked outside of the facility.

You can go near it and appreciate the restored details of the artifact.

Feast on Seafood Delights at Fred’s Fish House

Mammoth Spring’s small size means that there are a few dining establishments around.

Those that manage to thrive become beloved local institutions patronized by townsfolk and visitors.

One of these is the inviting Fred’s Fish House, located along Main Street.

Their primary fare is seafood, cooked in familiar and tasty ways like frying and baking.

So enjoy the fresh game from the Spring River like catfish and trout, cooked to perfection with other seasonal ingredients.

They also offer crab legs, soups, grilled sandwiches, and other delights that reflect their Southern heritage.

So if you want some filling and tasty meal after swimming in Mammoth Spring, visit this restaurant!

Go Fishing in Spring River

Water rushing through the rocks at Spring River

John Brueske /

The water pouring from Mammoth Spring becomes a scenic river flowing from the very tip of Arkansas to the Black River.

This journey spans 57 miles, passing plenty of towns and agricultural farmlands along the way.

Thanks to its gentle currents, this body of water is treated as another recreational attraction for the whole family.

Beautiful view of a small waterfall at Spring River

John Brueske /

River tubing, kayaking, and canoeing are some of the favorite activities here, with many outfitters and tour services offering rentals and guides.

Aside from playing in the water, you can also try fishing for the many species swimming underneath the surface.

Various species of bass and trout, channel catfish, walleye, and sunfish are just some of what you can catch here.

Dine and Unwind at Riverbend Restaurant

There’s another local dining establishment in Mammoth Spring that’s a must-add to your itinerary, the scenic Riverbend Restaurant.

As the name implies, this attraction sits on an elevated property next to the Spring River, offering scenic views of the flowing water and the dam.

There’s nothing quite like the combination of fine food and beautiful scenery, and you can get it here!

Their menu has a wide selection of American staples made with quality ingredients for the best flavors.

Try their steaks, baked potatoes, seafood, and chicken entrees.

For those with a sweet tooth, the restaurant has tasty dessert pies in classic flavors.

Make Yourself at Home at Spring River Oak Campground

If you’re looking for accommodations in Mammoth Spring, one of your best options is the tranquil Spring River Oak Campground.

It’s located along the path of the Spring River, far from the busier streets of the city.

So you can expect a serene atmosphere and an inviting community while here.

There are plenty of campsites on the property, both for traditional tents and RVs.

And for your convenience, the owners have also installed modern amenities like water and electric hookups, parking, and restrooms.

If you like more cozy accommodations, you can rent one of the many cabins available.

For those who want to explore Spring River from this point, the campground offers watercraft rentals and equipment.

So check out their selection of kayaks and rafts and head into the rushing waters!

Try German Dishes at La Pastorella Bistro and B&B

Mammoth Spring is probably one of the last places you’d expect to have a thriving German-themed restaurant, but the city keeps on making surprises.

The La Pastorella Bistro and B&B is a small restaurant with a big heart, offering traditional German dishes and refreshing beverages.

Of course, their main selling point is their delicious selection of German and Bavarian cuisine.

So get ready for some schnitzels, German pulled pork, bratwurst, sauerkraut, and more!

They also have an ever-changing selection of other international cuisines.

You can sample some Mediterranean dishes, American desserts, and more during various days.

It’s truly a hidden gem on this side of Mammoth Spring.

Enjoy the Tranquility of Riverside Resort Camp & Canoe

The serene Riverside Resort Camp & Canoe is another facility similar to Spring River Oak Campground.

This time, it’s located much further down the Spring River, but it’s still part of Mammoth Spring.

It’s also an excellent campground that can serve as your base of operations while exploring the southern attractions of the city and nearby Hardy.

There are 16 cabins here, with six units fully furnished for a convenient and comfortable stay.

For those bringing RVs, the campground has 50 sites with electric and water hookups and dump stations.

But if you’re opting for a classic tent-on-the-ground camping experience, you’re can choose among the 200 sites.

During the day, kayak and raft rentals are available, with shuttle services that will bring your right back to the campground.

Purchase High-Quality Items at Main Street Boutique

Main Street Boutique prides itself on carrying high-quality, reasonably priced, transitional, yet fashionable clothes.

They are committed to providing a diverse fashion selection and satisfying their customers’ demands in terms of style.

Explore their clothing for men and women, including dresses, sweaters, shirts, bottoms, outwear, and much more!

They provide incredible accessories, a large assortment of denim and footwear, and excellent customer service.

Main Street Boutique’s objective is to make your shopping process quick, friendly, and enjoyable.

Discover Tons of Activities to do at Southfork Resort

The family-run Southfork Resort makes an effort to make each guest feel at home when they go.

It is the ideal location for relaxing with loved ones and friends while taking in the tranquility of the river and the surrounding landscape.

Smallmouth bass fishing is quite popular in the Southfork in the Spring.

They catch fish from the campground’s riverbank and visit the shop to grab the bait and other fishing supplies.

The Resort encompasses 11 cabins to satisfy the needs of all your friends and family, and all cabins have an air conditioning system, sheets, towels, and a picnic table.

They also feature primitive camping options facing Spring River’s Southfork banks.

Drop by and Dine at Penny Loafers Café

Penny Loafers Café takes excellent delight in serving the best coffee, beignets, biscuits & gravy, sandwiches, and other food.

In addition to a large selection of coffees and beverages, they also offer sweet and savory culinary items, including their renowned Rueben, Philly Cheesesteak, and Western BBQ Chicken sandwiches.

On sunny days, you can expect a crowded terrace with people sipping drinks and snacking treats.

Penny Loafers Café provides cozy sitting inside their café with wifi access and many outlets on overcast days.

It doesn’t matter if you want to stop for your cup of joe, brunch, or an afternoon bite because they have you covered.

Presently, Tuesday through Friday, Penny Loafers Café is operational from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Pay a Visit to Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery

On a 7-acre island in the center of the Spring River, the Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery is one of the most extensive state-owned trout-creating operations in the Southeast.

Jim Hinkle Spring River State Fish Hatchery was constructed in 1974 to grow rainbow trout for the table market.

It raises and supplies rainbow and cutthroat fish for Arkansas spring creeks, including tailwater trout waterways.

Trout are supplied for the wintertime trout stocking project in southern Arkansas in addition to the recurrent Family and Neighborhood Trout Fishing Program.

A fantastic pastime for young fishermen is the yearly fishing derby at the hatchery.

Create Unforgettable Moments at Spring River Oaks

Dennis and Diana Walsh founded Spring River Oaks in 1980.

They worked with their children to make it one of the best campsites in north Arkansas.

They have developed cottages, water and power RV connections, and more camping spots throughout the seasons.

Spring River Oaks provides a spot for you whether you lodge in one of the gorgeous cottages, drive your RV, or just camp out.

Make memories with the cold clear water teeming with fish, the scent of fish cooking the grills, cornhole games, and youngsters collecting minnows on the waterways.

Other Things to Do Nearby

After your adventures in Mammoth Spring, check out these other attractions just a few minutes away!

Marvel at the Rushing Waters of Greer Spring

Waters of Greer Spring

Kbh3rd, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The geography of the Ozark Plateau makes it a hotspot for karst springs, especially in the region surrounding Mammoth Spring.

Up north in Woodside Township, Missouri, is another spring with features similar to Mammoth Spring: Greer Spring.

It’s also a fist-magnitude spring, the highest classification there is for water flow rate.

That’s because this attraction releases up to 360 cubic feet of water per second, resulting in a fast-flowing river with clear blue waters.

Unfortunately, swimming, boating, and other activities are not allowed in the spring.

But there are extensive trail systems that reach the spring.

So if you’re willing to hike, this place will be well worth the effort.

And it’s only 30 minutes away from Mammoth Spring!

Take a Tour of Grand Gulf State Park

Cave at Grand Gulf State Park

I, Kbh3rd, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you cross the state borders, you will end up in nearby Thayer, a laid-back city that’s more populated and developed than Mammoth Spring.

This is home to a famous regional attraction called Grand Gulf State Park, often compared to the Grand Canyons.

While it may not be as big as the world-famous landmark, this destination boasts the same beautiful canyons created by a collapsed cave system.

Most people are comfortable watching the rugged landscapes, caves, and swirling rock formations atop the viewing platforms, but brave souls will head down to see the wonders up close.

Just take caution if you’re one of these daring adventurers, as the canyon doesn’t have established routes that can guarantee your safety.

And since it’s only 13 minutes away from Mammoth Spring, you can quickly drive to it if you have spare time.

Catch the Latest Flicks at Glass Sword Cinema

When in Mammoth Spring, you might miss some modern luxuries like going to a movie theater.

There aren’t any in town, and not even in Thayer, only a few minutes away.

So if you don’t want to miss the latest blockbusters while on vacation, head over to Glass Sword Cinema in West Plains.

It’s less than a half-hour drive from Mammoth Spring, so the trip shouldn’t be an issue.

This facility brands itself a straightforward, old-school theater without any frivolous additions like those in big cities.

But they do have great seating in all of their six cinemas, excellent sound systems, and great screens for a classic movie-watching experience.

Before entering one of the cinemas, don’t forget to get popcorn and drinks to munch on while watching the latest flicks.

See the Wildlife at Galloway Park

Mammoth Spring doesn’t have community parks except for maybe Mammoth Springs State Park.

So if you want the uncrowded community park experience, you can head over to Galloway Park after watching a movie at Glass Sword Cinema.

This 40-acre green space is located on the northern edge of West Plains and is 33 minutes away from Mammoth Spring.

Aside from serving as a community recreational park, this destination is used as a small sanctuary for the local wildlife.

So while exploring the park trails next to Galloway Creek, keep an eye out for birds, small mammals, and fluttering insects living in the area.

There’s also a scenic wooden bridge that’s great for atmospheric photos.

Ace a Hole in One at Cherokee Village North Course

If you’re looking for a great golfing facility while in Mammoth Spring, you can head south to Cherokee Village, Arkansas.

Here, you’ll find the magnificent Cherokee Village North Course, an 18-hole public golf course.

It’s only 29 minutes away from Mammoth Spring’s city proper, but the drive time is much shorter if you’re from the previously mentioned campgrounds.

The course is divided into two by the South Fork Spring River, serving as a hazard and scenic feature.

But don’t worry, the layout is fairly manageable with good iron play.

So book a tee time during your trip and enjoy the excellent gameplay and beautiful scenery.

Hear the Engines Roar at Legit Speedway Park

Motorsports enthusiasts will have a grand time watching the zooming cars when they visit Legit Speedway Park, located in West Plains, Missouri.

This attraction is just 22 minutes away from Mammoth Spring, so it’s a definite must-add to your itinerary.

It boasts an oval, 3/8-mile track that serves as a venue for weekly races.

The vehicles competing are stock cars belonging to various divisions, like Super Late Model, Hobby Stock, and Super Stock.

But you don’t have to know all these designations to enjoy speeding cars as they make clouds of red dust on the track.

And with a seating capacity of around 12,000, the facility offers plenty of space for the whole family or group of friends.

Final Thoughts

Mammoth Spring may be a tiny city, but it packs a punch with its beautiful attractions and hospitable community.

So if you want to dip in cool spring waters, float along a river, try German cuisine, or watch young fish, head over to this charming city.

Use this guide as a reference when making your itinerary so you won’t miss the best spots!

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