One way you could tell someone how to get to Cotter Arkansas is to tell them the classic line, “You can’t get there from here”. The truth is that it’s not really like that anymore, but it used to be.
Cotter AR, population 1028, sits in north Central Arkansas about fifteen miles from the Missouri state line. Before 1930 when the Cotter Bridge was built over the unpredictable White River, a person would have to drive 100 miles away before they could get to the other side of the river. Today, US 62/US 412, U.S. Route 62 and Arkansas Highway 345 bring tourists from all over middle America.
A three hour drive from Little Rock and a seven hour drive from Dallas put you in the foothills of The Ozark Mountains. While commonly referred to as the Ozark Mountains, the geography is actually a high and deeply divided plateau and is known locally as the Ozark Highlands area. Covering 47,000 square miles, it is by far the most extensive mountainous region between the Appalachians and the Rockies.
An easy drive from Cotter puts the visitor in either Buffalo National Forest or Ozark National Forest. The Buffalo River, which originates in the Boxton Mountains of the Ozarks, flows out onto the Springfield Plateau near the historic community of Erbie and finally crosses the Salem Plateau right before joining the White River close to Cotter. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service it is designated as a National Scenic River and was the first U.S. river to be designated a National Wild River. Flowing through Buffalo National Park, the riverbanks are home to the state’s only elk herd.
Beginning in 1911 with Lake Taneycomo and lasting until 1960, The United States Army Corps of Engineers created six lakes in the White River basin. The lakes including Lake Sequoyah, Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Norfork. The presence of the lakes and rivers, when added to the proximity of population centers, has provided a large tourist, boating and fishing economy along the Missouri-Arkansas border.