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Bentonville: Mountain Biking Capital of the World

things to do in Bentonville, Arkansas

Recently declared the mountain biking capital of the world, Bentonville draws riders far and wide to come experience its epic trails. And while avid riders know how amazing the riding is in Bentonville, it’s what lies outside of the trails that makes them stay and even non-riders fall in love with this one of a kind town.

The community of Bentonville is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The incredible trail network, the amazing arts and culture scene, and the focus on local, high quality food are all reasons you should check out the mountain biking capital of the world, Bentonville.

This blog was sponsored by Visit Bentonville however the opinions expressed in this blog are, and always will be, truly our own.

Bentonville was a high priory destination to hit on our next summer road trip so when Visit Bentonville reached out to us about coming to visit for an epic weekend on the trails, we were stoked.

Whether you’ve never heard of Bentonville, Arkansas or have heard all the rage about this trail town, these 16 awesome things to do in Bentonville will blow you away from epic rides to local cuisine and a radical community!

I’m super excited to share with you why this destination was on the bucket list and why you‘re going to want to add it to yours too.😊

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Let’s get started with the Ultimate Guide to Bentonville, Arkansas: The Mountain Biking Capital of the World!

Getting to Bentonville, Arkansas

Located in the northwest corner of Arkansas, Bentonville hovers right on the border of where the midwest meets the south. Bentonville is smack dab in the middle of nowhere yet at the same time it’s only a a few hours away from many major cities.

Driving Times:

  • 6 hours from Dallas, Texas
  • 5 hours from St Louis, MO
  • 8 hours from Nashville, TN
  • 10 hours from Chicago, IL
  • 12 hours from Denver, Colorado

Flying to Arkansas

Bentonville is located just 10 minutes away from the Fayetteville Airport (XNA) making it semi-easy to just fly into town. The benefit of flying into Bentonville is that you barely need a vehicle when you’re staying in the town of Bentonville so it adds simplicity and saves you money. Plus, Fayetteville Airport may be one of the easiest airports we’ve ever flown in and out of.

Bentonville is also quite a drive away from many places so that in itself would require more another day or two in getting to and from Bentonville.

Use this search box to find flights to Bentonville (XNA)

Mountain Biking Capital of the World

Just over a decade ago, there weren’t any trails here, now, thanks to the passionate trail builders, the town has become the top mountain biking destination on the world.

Trail builders of Bentonville are putting down a mile and a half or trails per week and I’m not talking just clearing some rocks and cutting down a few trees. These bike networks that are being installed are built for flow and skills. They are perfectly built into the contours of the hills and always have fun man-made features like berms, jumps, drops, and more.

Mountain Biking Bentonville
Rock berms like this are one of the many amazing man-made bike features that trail builders work so hard to incorporate into the rides here

Advanced riders can always find something challenging to launch off of, and as an intermediate rider myself, I love that many of the features can be rolled and that there are alternative lines if I can’t make one of the features.

Bentonville is awesome for beginners too! Beginners will love exploring Esters in Coler Mountain Bike Preserve and if mountain biking isn’t your thing, not to worry. Bentonville hosts 30 incredible miles of greenway AKA bike paths.

MTB Trails Are So Easy to Access

I’ve never seen mountain biking so accessible in a town. The trail network quite literally starts from downtown. You can be anywhere in Downton Bentonville, hop on your bike, and be down hilling the Slaughter Pen trail system within minutes.

Coler Mountain Biking Preserve is conveniently located only a few minutes from town and is safe and easy to access either entrances to Coler from downtown via the crosswalk at Walton and both 12th St and 3rd St. You’ll also love that there is a bike wash, repair station, and water bottle refill station at the trailhead.

Family Tip: Bentonville is super bike friendly for families. I love that when we are there we can ditch the car and get to almost everywhere we want to be via bikes.

The access is like nothing I’ve seen before and with dozens of great restaurants throughout downtown, you can easily finish your favorite ride with great drinks and a good meal.

And even if you don’t mountain bike, you’ll love the paved Crystal Bridges/Razorback Greenway that starts right from town and takes you past the gorgeous Crystal Bridges Art Museum and then on to Bella Vista.

We Love The Community Vibe of Bentonville

While mountain biking is certainly exciting, what impressed us most about Bentonville was the happiness factor. From the service industry to the entrepreneurs all the way up to the town mayor herself, everyone seems so happy.

Mountain Biking Bentonville
Moutnain biking has built an amazing community here in Bentonville

Bentonville is a display of community at its finest, in fact, I don’t think anyone really knows the meaning of community until they come here. Everyone is truly trying to lift one another up and the feeling emits into the town, making it the kind of place you want to stick around in longer.

We love how festive downtown Bentonville is for the holidays!

Tips for Renting MTB in the The Mountain Biking Capital of the World

No trip to Bentonville is complete without riding the epic mountain bike trails. Don’t worry, you don’t have pack up your favorite bike to ride here (though it’s certainly an option if you’re hardcore).

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert rider, Phat Tire Bike Shop has you covered with the best rentals in town. The customer service and bike rentals are impeccable and are guaranteed to provide a fun time exploring Bentonville by bike.

Phat Tire Bike Shop in Bentonville, Arkansas
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert rider, Phat Tire has you covered with the best rentals in town

In addition, many AirBnb’s in the area have mountain bikes included in their vacation rentals.

Even if you aren’t willing to try mountain biking, the bike shop also offers road bikes and cruiser/hybrid which are great for exploring the amazing bike path network.

Bike rental rates:

  • Premium Carbon Full Suspension E-Bikes: $110
  • Full Suspension E-Bikes: $90
  • Premium Carbon Full Suspension MTB : $100
  • Full Suspension MTB: $60
  • Hard Tail MTB: $40
  • Cruiser E-Bike: $45
  • Cruiser Bike, Kids Bike, or Trailer: $30
  • Road Bikes: $45

Download the App

Bentonville has an awesome Downtown Bentonville app which lines up all the things to do and places to eat in one simple, interactive app. My favorite part about the app is that it lists all the up and coming events in one place, making it easy to find out what’s going on during your stay in Bentonville.

Click here to download it on the App Store or click here to download on Google Play.

Things to do in Bentonville, Arkansas

1 | Ride the Epic Singletrack

If it wasn’t already clear, the biking in Bentonville is out of this world. There’s so much to ride in Bentonville and due to the short, but numerous, trails in each area. Seriously, the variations of riding here are endless.

Slaughter Pen 1, 2, and 3 start right from Downtown and is famous for its family friendly All American Trail.

Coler Mountain Bike Preserve is filled with a ton of epic obstacles making it a favorite for seasoned riders. Be sure to check out the “Hub”, a 20-foot-tall steel-and-wood structure that guides riders to the start of three downhill runs.

Last, there’s the Back 40 near Bella Vista which you can drive to or make a day out of it and ride Slaughter Pen our to the Back 40.

There is also Hobbs State Park, Lake Atlanta Loop, and Mt Kessler with more MTB nearby.

Looking for a flowy ride that is great for intermediate riders? This is our favorite ride in Bentonville:

Start in town and ride All-American down to Choo-Choo and Boo-Boo. Then go up Black Apple Creek and turn around to downhill it. Head across the street and do a few loops on Leopard’s Loop. Next, get ready for an awesome downhill on Tristan’s Trail. Take the North Bentonville Trail to Slaughter Pen 2 area and don’t miss out on Armadillo’s Last Stand and the North Skills Park. Check MTB Project for details on all the Slaughter Pen trails.

2 | Crystal Bridges Art Museum

Before being known as a mountain biking town, Bentonville was famous for its rich art culture and the prime hub for that art scene is at Crystal Bridges Art Museum. This museum, home to more than five centuries of artwork, is commonly found among the top 20 museums in the nation.

Though the museum holds many million dollar pieces of art by famed artists from Andy Warhol to Georgia O’Keeffe, what’s most visually inspiring to me about the museum is the stunning modern architecture. The museum is brilliantly designed with glass bridges intricately weaving around the river running from Crystal Spring (Tip: this is what gives the museum its name).

What’s even more amazing than the art and architecture at display here is the fact that the museum is completely free to enter, a rarity among big museums. There’s even a separate entrance that’s only open to foot/bike traffic making it easy to stop by after exploring the trail networks of Bentonville.

3 | Explore the North Forest Lights (Seasonal)

Besides being a year round destination for art connoisseurs, Crystal Bridges is home to a stunning seasonal display called the North Forest Lights.

Crystal Bridges North Forest Lights in Bentonville, Arkansas
The lounge area just outside the Whispering Tree is a great place to cozy up with hot chocolate around the bonfire

During the winter months, the paved trails just outside of Crystal Bridges light up in the evenings with 7 unique displays of light and sound which are meant to be an artistic expression of nature and represent the hidden forms of music that nature communicates to us with.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t think the North Forest Lights would be anything to write home about but they turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The lights in itself are cool but it’s the choreographed overlap to calming and powerful music that makes it a unique experience.

Admission:

  • Adults: $22
  • Youth 7 to 18: $10
  • Kids 6 and under: Free

4 | Go Rock Climbing

Before I even knew about the biking in Bentonville, the nearby climbing at Horseshoe Canyon was what first brought the town to my attention. Horseshoe Canyon is the largest climbing area in Arkansas and is only 2 hours away, making for a major hub for climbing.

Horseshoe Canyon hosts nearly 600 routes in grades varying from 5.5 to 5.14. The routes here are not only great quality, but it’s a very scenic destination. Though Horseshoe Canyon is known for great crack climbing, more than half the routes are sport however, there are still nearly 100 trad routes and 100+ boulder problems in the area.

Photos shown above, credit: MountainProject.com

There are also many other sport crags in northwest Arkansas including Sam’s Throne, home to some of the best lines in Arkansas, or Cowell, a rugged, scenic crag with great routes as well.

Indoor Climbing at Climb Bentonville!

As much as we love outdoor climbing, some days it’s more fun to hit the climbing gym and rep out on the wall. This is also a good option if weather isn’t cooperating with you.

Climb Bentonville has a great, full scale climbing gym with a bouldering area, campus boards, top roped routes, lead routes, a beginner’s climbing area, and a fun kid’s obstacle area.

We love that Climb Bentonville also has a well equipped, clean workout area with Rogue equipment. There is also a yoga studio with classes offered throughout the week and a spacious, inviting lounge area.

If you forget any climbing gear or need a climbing book for the area, their Pro Shop was well equipped and reasonably priced.

Climb Bentonville rock gym
Climb Bentonville is a great place to get on the wall when the weather is bad in Bentonville

5 | Fly + Ride/HIke/Climb from Thaden Field

Want to experience something really adventurous and unique to the area? Hop on a plane and go explore the untouched wilderness of the Ozarks.

After the recent development of Thaden Field, recreational aviation is on the rise in Bentonville. Thaden Field now hosts flight school, a small hangar exhibition, a restaurant, and most importantly, scenic flights and backcountry access.

FIELDHOUSE at Thaden Field, Bentonville, Arkansas
The new FIELDHOUSE at Thaden Field provides amazing new opportunities for recreational aviation

Summit Aviation now makes it so you can hop on a chartered plane and go off into the Ozarks for a day of any adventure you wish from mountain biking, to hiking, climbing, and paddling.

FIELDHOUSE at Thaden Field, Bentonville, Arkansas
Small aviation exhibit at Fieldhouse

One of the coolest adventures to me is the opportunity to go explore one of Northwest Arkansas’s best climbing areas, Horseshoe Canyon. The top of the canyon is a prime spot to land a plane and through a chartered flight, you can be at the crag in a mere 20 minutes. From there, you can set up top rope anchors, rappel into the canyon, and climb out when you’re ready to head home.

6 | Visit the Walmart Museum

Bentonville is famous for being the location of the first Walmart store. Though I know how big Walmart is, at first I didn’t understand why Walmart was such a big deal in this town. Yeah it’s a billion dollar company but it’s corporate and aren’t we trying to promote small businesses?

The truth that I later found out was not that everyone swears by Walmart, but rather that everyone looked up to Sam Walton and the behaviors he modeled as a leader.

By touring the Walmart Museum you get a great taste of the story of Sam Walton and my favorite part, the 10 aspects of business that we stood for. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will say that one of the aspects is “Swim Upstream” and anything that promotes going against the grain, is something I’m inspired by.

Admission is free and the museum is open daily.

7 | Stop by 21C Museum Hotel

21C Museum Hotel isn’t just your typical hotel, it’s also a restaurant and museum. This museum is unique because unlike Crystal Bridges who focuses on all eras of art, 21C is dedicated solely to contemporary art.

The museum is free to enter year round and doesn’t take long to explore due to its small nature. Like the name implies, 21C is also a hotel.

Where to Eat in the Mountain Biking Capital of the World

You might come to Bentonville for the mountain biking or maybe even the art, but one of the biggest reasons you’ll stay, or return, is for the food. I love how innovative the chefs in Bentonville are and that most restaurants are trying to find creative ways to combine local ingredients, and to deliver a unique dining experience.

Louise at Thaden Field

Recognize this name? In the very same shelter that houses aircrafts, flight school, and hosts plane charters is a modern cafe-style restaurant, Louise. Of all the places we ate in Bentonville, Louise was one of my favorites.

I like it’s spacious, open location with a view of the airfield, the high quality food, and the coffee drinks were incredible (microfoam, anyone?) and I loved that they had oat milk. The restaurant serves food all day long and has both indoor. and outdoor seating.

Pressroom

Pressroom surprised me and it was easily one of my favorite eateries in town. The restaurant is not fine dining but the food was better than any other restaurant in town and with a modern interior and lots of windows, I liked the open atmosphere.

The restaurant is catered to all meals from breakfast, to lunch, dinner, morning coffee, and happy hour.

Be sure to taste one of their energizing juices like the Gingerslap shot, order one of their delicious pecan “Big Sticky” Rolls as an appetizer, and be sure to try the Baked Egg & Chorizo.

Bonus: Pressroom has a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.

8th Street Market

8th St Market is a community oriented market comprised of multiple restaurants, food trucks, a brewery, and even a cooking school. This modern, co-op style building is dedicated to serving up excellent food and providing a welcoming atmosphere.

Some of our favorites in the Market include Yeyo’s Mexican Grill, Markham & Fitz chocolate shop (be sure to try their legit sipping chocolate), and Bike Rack Brewery.

The Hive

Located inside of historic 21C Museum Hotel, The Hive is a fresh, contemporary, farm to table restaurant. The name is rightfully given with bees and flowers adorning the bright, white interior of the restaurant.

I love the vibe at The Hive but perhaps the most popular reason to visit is to taste the delicious delicacies produced by The Hive’s famous head chef Matthew McLure. The chef strives to combine a variety of different styles of cuisine but most prominently, that of the South.

Whatever you do, do not miss the Pimento Cheese which is a specialty of the south and the Sweet and Spicy Fries (best fries I’ve ever tasted). The Hive Power Bowl was an all around favorite for our group but we also loved the Roast Pork Sandwich.

The Pedaler’s Pub

Looking for a low key hangout to grab some grub and relax with your crew? Pedaler’s Pub is the place for you. While the food here is nothing to write home about, the upbeat but un-presumptuous vibe makes it great place for dinner if you’re rolling in straight off the trails.

Bentonville Brewing Company

I’m always craving a beer and burger after a fun day of adventures, and so, I head to Bentonville Brewing Company which is conveniently located in the same parking lot as Climb Bentonville. It’s a good thing I don’t live there because I think going to climb and then walking across to the brewery would become my daily habit!

If you like hazy IPA’s, I really loved the Space Goose, and the Sour Gose’s were also incredibly good too!

Burg Der Gastropub is also located inside the brewery and has some great food options, although I thought the burgers and fries were the best.

There are also food trucks outside the brewery, live music, and a dog park outside the brewery.

Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie

Another favorite for burger lovers is the Tusk and Trotter. Located in the center of downtown, this is another great farm to table restaurant with delicious, well sources food options. I highly recommend trying the truffle fries!

The Buttered Biscuit

The Buttered Biscuit serves up more than just buttery balls of dough, although the biscuits are definitely their specialty. Local Bentonville owners, Anna and Sam, have created a diverse menu of breakfast favs with an emphasis on high quality ingredients and locally sourced products whenever possible.

The Buttered Biscuit has something catered to all your breakfast cravings from sweet treats like cinnamon rolls, waffles, and French toast, to specialty eggs benedict plates, omelettes, and biscuit sandwiches like the Razorback which was my personal favorite.

Phat Tire Bike shop

Yup, you read that right. Now obviously this isn’t a restaurant, but one of the coolest secrets of Bentonville is that Phat Tire has free beer on tap (granted: you get 1 pour).

free beer at phat tire bike shop
Grabbing a free beer at Phat Tire Bike Shop

If you’re looking for a place to grab a quick drink after a hard day of riding, stop by the bike shop before heading into town for dinner.

Riverside Grill

Looking for a super classy experience? Riverside Grill is upscale and it shows in the entire experience. While Riverside Grill has long been known as one the best restaurants in Bentonville, I wouldn’t recommend it for those rolling right off the trail.

The steak and seafood here is delicious and the wine tasteful, but it’s definitely more suited to the luxury travelers rather than the outdoorsmen. Be sure to try the bacon wrapped shrimp and crab cakes for appetizers.

Olly Makes Bakery

For the best gluten free sweets, don’t miss the savory scones, muffins, and chocolatey treats at Olly’s. This quaint bakery is near downtown and has a homey vibe, making it a great place to get some work done or sip coffee and enjoy a good book.

Yummy treats at Olly’s

Where to Stay in the Mountain Biking Capital of the World

Camping Near Bentonville

Camping is not in abundant supply in Bentonville but fortunately, the few options in the area are fantastic.

Blowing Springs campground in Bentonville Arkansas
Blowing Springs campground just outside Bentonville

The #1 place to camp in the area is definitely Blowing Springs Campground. This campground is located at the start of the Back 40 trail network, is right next to a kids pumptrack, and sits right on the greenway which takes you to Bentonville and the Slaughter Pen Trail Network.

Though not technically a part of the city of Bentonville, camping at Blowing Springs provides great amenities including restrooms, showers, laundry, and wifi, allows big rig and tents, and has full hookup sites.

Click here to make a reservation at Blowing Springs Campground.

Tent campers will LOVE the new campground at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve,It isn’t clear what the max RV size will be however, it will definitely be open to tent campers and is probably the best option at that. At Coler Park, you’re only a 10 minute bike ride from downtown Bentonville and Slaughter Pen Trails. The only negative is that 1) you have to cross a major street without crosswalks (not kid friendly) and 2) the campground isn’t open yet.

Learn more about camping right next With direct access to 17 miles of trails for mountain biking or running directly from your campsite, men’s and women’s restrooms, hot showers, community fire pit,

These spots are made for Camper Vans that are a maximum of 19′ in length and no more than 90″ wide. There are no water or sewage hook-ups.

$15-25/night for tent pads and $30/night for vans. Note that dogs, trailers, and firearms are not allowed.

There is a bike wash and repair station, a water bottle refill station, a community fire pit, and eight (8) hammock stands dispersed throughout the campground.

Reserve your site at Coler here.

Another campground within driving distance from town is Prairie Creek State Park Campground, a scenic state park with both tent and RV sites and even has electrical hookups. This is a great option if you’re tent camping or have a trailer and have a car that you can use to get around.

Of course, as the birthplace of Walmart, there is the budget friendly option for Vans/RVS of boondocking in the Walmart parking lot.

Related blog: How to Find Free Camping in the US

When it comes to accommodation, you have a lot of options in Bentonville. There’s a growing number of both hotels and vacation rentals in town.

Top Hotels Near Bentonville

21c Boutique Museum Hotel If you’re looking for the most unique, upscale accommodation experience in Bentonville, there’s no doubt that you should stay at the 21c boutique Hotel. As mentioned earlier in this post, the hotel is also an contemporary art museum and hosts and amazing restaurant, the Hive.

As the home to a contemporary art museum, it’s no surprise that the hotel models the same level of modern design with open spaces, large windows, and creative interiors. Bonus: The hotel is congenitally located at the start of the Slaughter Pen Trail Network and is just 1 block from historic downtown Bentonville.

Four Points BentonvilleThe Four Points is your typical hotel accommodation and we had no complaints about our stay here. The rooms were clean and the beds were extra comfortable. There was a pool, gym, free coffee was provided in the lobby each morning, and upon request, they gave us free tea to brew in our room. The customer service was exceptional. The hotel provides breakfast with certain room packages.

Double Tree Suites by Hilton Located right across the street from the Four Points, the Double Tree is a slightly more upscale hotel with friendly staff, comfortable beds, a gym, and a pool onsite. The hotel provides breakfast at an additional charge.

Sunset View from our Airbnb in Bentonville

Airbnb’s in Bentonville

We recently stayed at this Biker’s Paradise | Comfy Getaway | 5★ Location Airbnb in Bentonville and had a great time. It is close to the Slaughter Pen Trail network and has a pool table, which my kids loved!

Other great Airbnb’s in Bentonville include:


Hope this inspired and/or helped you plan a trip to Bentonville! If you have any questions about visiting, be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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Jack

Thursday 23rd of December 2021

There is no Fayetteville Airport. There is an airport IN Fayetteville, but that's not XNA. You flew in to Northwest Arkansas National Airport, which is the correct name for XNA despite that a number of airports around the country keep getting it wrong. XNA is located in Bentonville.

Robyn

Thursday 23rd of December 2021

Thank you for clarifying.

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