Heber Springs-Greers Ferry Lake, AR
A Natural Paradise
Deep in the Ozarks, the town of Heber Springs is set along the southern edge of Greers Ferry Lake. This sparkling masterpiece was created when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished construction of the dam across the Little Red River in 1963. Today, Greers Ferry Lake, which stretches for 50 miles, is nationally recognized as one of the cleanest, most beautiful lakes in the country. Locals enjoy numerous recreational activities along its 300 miles of shoreline and 40,000 acres of water.
Heber Springs is the site of famous medicinal springs, and many people were originally drawn here by the water's healing powers.
Today Greers Ferry Lake plays a large role in the lifestyle of Heber Springs and the other towns that wrap around the lake. With a population of fewer than 7,000 people, Heber Springs is the seat of Cleburne County and has a robust economy grounded in services, tourism, and industry. This dynamic town hosts numerous events including the World Championship Cardboard Boat Festival and the Old Soldiers Reunion, a tradition that stretches back more than a century. To top it off, fishing in this part of the country is legendary. The world record catch for a German brown trout was fished out of the nearby Little Red River, and Greers Ferry Lake spawned a world record walleye.
Located just sixty miles north of Little Rock, this area has been called a retiree's haven because of its ample recreational opportunities, low crime and affordable living. The climate here is mild, yet locals still enjoy glorious seasonal changes. Springtime blossoms in Heber Springs with generous dogwood, redbud, and wildflower blooms. During picture-perfect autumns the scenery of the Ozarks is truly magnificent.
While locals can take advantage of all of the metropolitan amenities that Little Rock has to offer, they can spend blissful days enjoying forested retreats, star-studded skies, and early morning fishing trips. Heber Springs and the Greers Ferry Lake area are a natural choice for high-quality living.
Heber Springs-Greers Ferry Lake, AR At-A-Glance
Avg. July high: 92
Avg. January low: 24
Avg. Annual Precipitation: 52
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 7
Closest Big City: 60 miles to Little Rock
Health Care: 1 hospital with 25 beds
Cost of Living: 13% below the national average
Housing Costs: 156,000
Every season is a good season to be outdoors around Greers Ferry Lake. The surrounding Ozark Mountains moderate the cold weather, giving this beautiful area warm summers and mild winters.
Springtime temperatures are comfortable, typically in the pleasant 60s. Spring gets the most rain, averaging about five inches monthly. The local flora comes out in force during this season, creating a blanket of color that covers the countryside.
As summer drifts in with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, locals spend more time out at Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River. Water is the way to beat the heat, and summer is often punctuated by four inches of cooling per month.
Come autumn residents get a real treat.
Not only are temperatures delightful, still averaging in the 60s in October, but the changing colors around Greers Ferry Lake are truly unforgettable.
With only seven inches of snow, winters here are mild. Average temperatures range in the mid-30s, just chilly enough to convince locals it's winter. Rain is more common than snow, with about four inches a month.
Art & Culture
Set in the magnificent Ozarks, Heber Springs is a classic small town.With world-class fishing, beautiful vistas, and a high quality of life, it has received high praises from Where to Retire.
The Ozark culture is filled with mountain crafts, art, dance, and folklore. Hundreds of talented artisans call the Ozarks home, and the natural beauty of the area inspires their work. From detailed woodworking to delicate stitchery, the crafts of this region have their own unique flair. Antique and collectible shops are common throughout the Ozarks, and there are many art galleries in the area, featuring both local and regional talent. To top things off, the Cleburne County Arts Council sponsors a variety of artistic performances, art showings, and special events in the Greers Ferry Lake area.
Locals celebrate their past and embrace the future with many festivals in the Heber Springs area. One of the most well known, and enduring, is the Old Soldiers Reunion, sponsored by the American Legion. People from all over the nation attend, honoring a local tradition that has spanned more than a century.
The Ozark Frontier Trail Festival and Craft Show in the fall is another local event that packs lots of fun activities. One of the highlights of this festival is the Antique Car Parade and Show, which highlights a variety of classic vehicles.
To add to their artistic or cultural menu, the residents simply take a short trip to Little Rock, which is only about an hour's drive away. Memphis, just two hours away, is another option. These large cities have everything in the way of arts and culture, from symphony to professional sports.
Branson, Missouri, one of the entertainment meccas of the country, is also just a couple of hours to the north.
As locals will say, there is water everywhere in Heber Springs. Greers Ferry Lake, the jewel of the county's crown, is 50 miles long and has 343 miles of shoreline.
For those looking to set a world record for trophy fish, this is a great place to do it. In 1982, the walleye world record was set with a 22-pound, 11-ounce catch brought out of the lake. Naturally there are annual events (such as the Walleye Run) celebrating fishing here, but residents don't need a calendar to remember them because the fishing season never ends.
Any day is a great day to be on the water in this part of the country.
Of course the Little Red River, a tailrace water system below Greers Ferry Lake, has plenty of its own appeal. Imagine the excitement of the angler who landed a German brown trout over 40 pounds and set a world record.
Every year, tourists migrate to the area in large numbers to enjoy these two water playlands. Many first head to the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center, which lies at the the western end of Greers Ferry Lake Dam. There, visitors can take in a 20- minute historic video on the river at a 96- seat theater. An exhibit hall includes a variety of displays on everything from the geological history of the region to early natives lifestyles. There's also an excellent overview of how the dam produces electricity.
As sailboats, canoes, and other watercraft bob on the water, many other activities are taking place on the shores of the lake. Hiking in the Ozark foothills allows nature lovers to watch a variety of wild animals. The area is a true bird watcher's paradise, and many folks delight in sightings of backyard birds such as cardinals, painted buntings, and goldfinches. A rare colony of trumpeter swans and numerous bald eagles also make their winter homes around the lake.
Of course the recreation opportunities don't stop there, because the biggest city in Arkansas is only 60 miles away. Little Rock offers all the venues and high energy that visitors look for in a big city. Sophisticated culture is available here in the form of theater and orchestra, and the galleries and museums are also classic fare.
One favorite event is Little Rock's Riverfest, which takes place in early summer and is rated as one of America's top 100 festivals. The Greers Ferry Lake area offers a lifestyle wealthy in entertainment and opportunity.
The crown jewel of Heber Springs is Greers Ferry Lake, which has more than 300 miles of shoreline.The waters are pristine, and world record trophy fish have been caught here.
The Heber Springs School District is
well regarded in the region. Despite overall
low per-pupil expenditures, more than
two-thirds of students go on to college.
The area's three schools feature a low student-
to-teacher ratio, and they rank in the
top half of schools in the country.
Located in the center of town, the elementary,
middle, and senior high schools
are placed together in a 38-acre complex.
The schools maintain a range of extracurricular
activities in addition to core instructional
classes, and provide modern computer
and science laboratories. There are
also private schools in the area, providing
options for families seeking an alternative
to public education.
There are also many opportunities for
higher education in the nearby area. Heber
Springs locals can attend Arkansas State
University, offering associate's degrees in
Beebe, only 40 miles outside Heber
Springs. The University of Arkansas at
Little Rock is 60 miles away, and is one of
the major schools in the state. The university
enrolls thousands of students and
offers everything from bachelor's degrees
to doctorate programs. Conway, just 43
miles away, is the home of the University
of Central Arkansas. In all, more than a
dozen universities, colleges, and vocational-
technical institutes are located within a
60-mile radius of Heber Springs, making
higher education quite accessible from this
Housing & Cost of Living
The Heber Springs area is known for its affordable prices, strong local economy, natural beauty, and safe surroundings.
The cost of living in Heber Springs is very affordable at approximately 10% to 15% below the national average. Health care costs run approximately 20% below the national average, and child care costs are very low here, too. Parents will pay between $3,500 and $4,000 for an infant at an accredited center each year and less than $3,500 for a four-year-old child. One government-subsidized Head Start operates in the city, making costs even lower for some low-income families.
Home prices are also extremely low- nearly half of the national average. Single family homes, nestled among wooded acres in Cleburne County can be purchased for $128,000. Newer, larger homes on waterfront property are also available for $250,000 and up. Retirees have discovered this paradise, and the Greers Ferry Lake area has been profiled in the book Where to Retire as an inexpensive place to enjoy a fabulous retirement. Although most of these folks own homes- 80% of the population- people who rent pay a low $420 per month.
Crime & Safety
The serenity of life in the Ozarks is hard to beat, and in the beautiful town of Heber Springs crime simply has no place.
The small town atmosphere creates a sense of community, and every street is on a kind of unending neighborhood watch.
In Cleburne County, the overall crime rate and the violent crime rate are both lower than the national norm. Murders, rapes reported to the police, and robberies are almost unheard of. A town's safety is measured by its violent crime rate. Heber Springs proves that there still are places in America where locals don't have to lock their doors and the streets are as safe at night as they are during daytime.
Earning a Living
The annual World Championship Cardboard Boat Races are held in this Arkansas town...
Business is thriving in the Greers Ferry Lake area with a widely diversified mix of industries. With the beauty of the Ozarks surrounding the area, its no surprise that tourism is a big part of the economy. Visitors come from all over to enjoy world-class fishing and down-home Southern hospitality at its best. With the beautiful Greers Ferry Lake as a centerpiece attraction, some locals have turned their favorite hobby- fishing- into a moneymaking enterprise. Numerous recreational companies such as fishing guide services and boat rentals have flourished in this area.
The natural amenities of the area are also attracting retirees to Heber Springs, and this has been another stimulus for the economy. In addition to tourism, construction and retail trade contribute significantly to the local economy, and the area also boasts many different types of durable goods manufacturers. Airplane components, pollution control devices, and high voltage switches are manufactured in the Greers Ferry Lake region.
The lively and unique art culture here provides another diversified layer of the economic profile. Many artisans craft their wares and sell them at local shops and galleries.
These and many other businesses exist in the thriving enterprise zone surrounding Heber Springs.
The city and county are actively encouraging industrial growth in the area, and it has paid off. The stable economy is growing, and the Greers Ferry Lake area is bubbling with great business opportunities.
The more than a half-dozen medicinal springs that flow in Spring Park are what originally brought many visitors to the Greers Ferry Lake area. That tradition of health and healing continues today with the Baptist Medical Center at Heber Springs, which has two facilities. Critical access is offered at one, smaller facility, while short term acute care is offered at another. Locals can also choose from numerous clinics and healthcare practitioners in the area.
Heber Springs is located just 60 miles out of Little Rock, so locals can take advantage of these first-class medical facilities. Senior citizens also have plenty of services in the area. Geriatrics Nursing Center and Home For The Elderly both offer assisted living care, while The Manor offers congregate, Alzheimer's , and respite care.