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This page was last updated on: January 30, 2024
The Ouachita Mountains

The Ouachita Mountains today extend approximately 225 miles
(east to west) from west-central Arkansas to southeastern Oklahoma.  With a north to south distance of approximately 50 miles they encompass about 12,000 square miles.  A most unusual characteristic of these mountains is that their ridges trend in an east-west direction.   They are the visible remnant of a system that once may have extended from near the Appalachian Mountains to the Big Bend area in southwest Texas.

The Ouachita Mountains, Ouachita Province and Ozark Mountains make up the physiographic region called the Interior Highlands.  Yet the Ouachitas and Ozarks are completely distinct in rocks, structure and origin.  The Ouachitas are believed to have been formed about 300 million years ago when this continent collided with the continent to the south (the formation of the supercontinent Pangaea  North America, South America and Africa).  

The Ouachita Mountains, though possibly the least known, are the tallest mountains between the Appalachians in the east and the Rocky Mountains in the west.  The highest peaks of the Ouachitas include Magazine Mountain (Arkansas's highest peak at 2753 ft), Rich Mountain (though listed as Arkansas' second tallest mountain, its peak just west of the AR/OK border is slightly taller than Magazine Mt.), Poteau Mountain (2660+ ft), Sugar Loaf Mt (2560 ft) and Petit Jean Mt (2440 ft).  

The mountains Magazine, Petit Jean and Nebo dramatically stand out against the surrounding low and flat Arkansas Valley on the northern edge of the Ouachita Mountains.  They are thought by some to be outside of the Ouachita Mountains proper.   They are included in the Ouachita Province, the area between the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains south of the Arkansas River. 

The Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma - a recreational and scenic paradise.
Magazine Mountain,
Arkansas' highest peak
c. Glenn Luttrell
Cedar Falls on Petit Jean Mountain
c. Glenn Luttrell
190055OUAR - c. Glenn Luttrell
The Talimena Scenic Hwy in the Ouachita Mtns of Oklahoma and Arkansas
590006OUAR - c. Glenn Luttrell 
Paragliding over the 
Ouachita Mtns