I devoted my column in last Saturday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to Izard County, one of this state’s more remote, rural and beautiful counties.
One of my wife’s friends had turned me onto an interesting website called Exploring Izard County, which can be found at exploreizard.blogspot.com. This blog contains photos, videos and written accounts about jaunts to various places in Izard County.
Denny Elrod told me that he and some friends began their blog because they see so much untapped tourism potential in Izard County.
“The one industry that is viable in this area is the tourism industry,” Elrod says. “One of our goals is to show people here and from other places that Izard County prosperity lies in the development of a tourism industry. It’s frustrating to know that we have miles and miles of White River frontage along some of the most scenic parts of the river, yet there is not a single restaurant or resort standing along its bank in the county. We have two trout docks and a few scattered rental cabins. But while there are scores of interesting natural and historical sites to exploit, there is absolutely no infrastructure to support a robust tourist industry.”
Elrod lives along Arkansas Highway 9 in Melbourne.
He says, “For more than 10 years now, the weekly thunder of biker clubs snaking through town, as well as car clubs traversing what we call the Great Circle Tour route, has excited me.”
In case you’re wondering, the Great Circle Tour route is Sylamore Road, Arkansas Highway 5 in Stone County, Arkansas Highway 56 from Calico Rock to Brockwell in Izard County and Arkansas Highway 9 south to Melbourne.
Elrod and his partners on the blog began tours to various parts of the county two years ago.
“We did so because of the constant e-mails from readers wanting to tag along with us on our excursions,” he said. “We’ve made some wonderful friends through these efforts, and we’re beginning to see some excitement among locals who are becoming aware of the possibilities.”
It’s always refreshing to find people in Arkansas’ sparsely populated, rural counties who realize the potential others have missed.
Give the Exploring Izard County blog a try. You’ll enjoy it.