While recovering from an illness in the late 1800s, Harold Bell Wright sought physical and spiritual healing in the Ozark Mountains, and the preacher-turned-author came to love the region’s beautiful hills and hollows and the simple, country folks who inhabited them.
Inspired by his time there, he penned Shepherd of the Hills, a fictional account of joy, sorrow, violence, and restoration that became one of the first novels to sell 1 million copies in the United States. After it was published in 1907, readers began flocking to the Ozarks to experience the lovely scenery and hospitable people that Bell described. And they haven’t stopped coming.
Although some debate the boundaries of the Ozarks, most agree that this undulating, cozy quilt of peaks and valleys covers large areas of Missouri and Arkansas, while taking a slice of northeast Oklahoma and even a bit of southeast Kansas.
Yet the heart of the Ozarks stretches from southern Missouri across the border into northern Arkansas. Dramatic byways of curving roads cut through rolling hills and dense forests to towns that range from rural villages to entertainment meccas to Victorian hamlets. On an Ozarks road trip, let’s see where those scenic routes take us.