The Arkansas River created the River Valley. Upstream, Old West culture is relived in Fort Smith. The Fort Smith National Historic Site summarizes the city's role on the western frontier. Also of interest are the Fort Smith Museum of History, Fort Smith Trolley Museum and the Belle Grove Historic District.
Across the Arkansas River is Van Buren, featuring its Victorian downtown area. Van Buren is also a terminus for Arkansas & Missouri Railroad excursions. Arkansas's wine country is home to visitor-friendly vineyards and wineries. Russellville's Arkansas River Visitors Center chronicles the river's history. The River Valley is dotted with several museums of note.
Fishing on Blue Mountain Lake and Lake Nimrod is a draw for visitors and residents alike. Eagles and wintering waterfowl may be viewed at the renowned Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge. Lake Sylvia, Cove Lake and White Rock Mountain/Shores Lake are listed among the Ozark National Forest and the Ouachita National Forest's recreational attractions in the River Valley region.