Things to Do

Why You Should Visit Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

If it’s been a while since you’ve been to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in northwest Arkansas, now’s a good time to revisit the ruggedly scenic 720-acre adventure park.

By Sony Hocklander

May 2024

Rock climbing
Photo courtesy Horseshoe Canyon RanchTry Horseshoe Canyon Ranch’s via ferrata routes for a new adventure.

Rock Climbing

For many, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is synonymous with rock climbing. That’s because the well-known destination offers more than 500 bolted routes—with more family-friendly options than ever. Plus there are bouldering and scrambling opportunities. Bolted routes are open to experienced climbers, and less experienced or new climbers can book an adventure through HCR with certified guides and provided equipment. Some equipment is available for rent and for sale at the trading post, where every visitor should check in.

Via Ferrata Routes

For an adventure that’s something between scrambling and climbing, try HCR’s two via ferrata routes. Roughly translated, the Italian via ferrata means “iron path,” and that’s what it is: a planned mountain bluff route that traverses rocky, steep terrains using fixed metal rungs with bridges and cables for safety. Long established in Europe, it’s growing in popularity across the United States and HCR was among the first destinations to create one. No rock-climbing experience? No problem. Just bring an adventurous spirit for this guided adventure. 

Mountain Bikes and Hikes

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch won’t be renamed eBike Canyon Ranch, but instead of horses, you’ll find a fleet of rentable electric mountain bikes in 2024. That goes hand-in-hand with new mountain bike trails—expanding into summer. While the ranch has long had gravel roads for riding, the new trails will meet all skill levels, from green loop beginner trails to advanced cycling. (You can bring your own bike, too.) Hikers will find plenty of paths that spider around the ranch, plus gravel roads and open spaces to explore.

Longest Continuous Zip Line

Whether you go for the day or while staying over, you can fly through the canyon valley on the Iron Horse, the highest and longest continuous zip line in Arkansas at nearly half a mile. This is not canopy zip lining—you’ll soar in one swoop for incredible bird’s eye views of the canyon valley. Not quite ready for Iron Horse? Try the 700-foot-long Pony Express zip experience. Both are available for day use or overnight guests. While it’s best to reserve ahead, walk-ins are welcome too.

Overnights and Day Exploration

Horseshoe Canyon is no longer a dude ranch but adventure is the focus. However, overnight visitors will find it easier to book cabins for a la carte stays, and first-come-first-serve camping continues. The ranch is open for day use whether experienced climbing, bike riding, hiking, photography or simply exploring (a small fee and check-in is required at the Trading Post). But a few weeks each year are designated for all-inclusive stays with lodging, meals, in-park adventures and more.