BELLA VISTA -- It takes approximately three hours to drive from Kansas City, Mo., to Blowing Springs Park in Bella Vista. For one group, the drive from their hometown to this vacation campground seems to be worth every minute.
The group -- Kenny, Kristen and Brooklynn Anderson and their dog, Cruz, and friends Will and Esther Mengarelli and Logan Arnold -- took a break from packing up before heading back home on a recent afternoon to talk about the last few days they had spent at Blowing Springs, the most recent of several trips they've made to Northwest Arkansas to spend time enjoying the many recreational and fun activities this part of the state has to offer.
As they relaxed in chairs and sat at the picnic table located between two of the park's new Tiny Cabins they had rented for this trip, Kenny Anderson recalled his family's first camping trip to the park.
"We had booked the original pod [tiny cabin across the road from the new ones] back in 2019 when we came down for the first time," he said.
"The first time we came here it was just the three of us," he added, referring to his wife and daughter. It was nice, especially with a little one. She was under 5 at the time so she would sleep on the floor on a little pallet. We really enjoyed it."
The Andersons have also stayed in a camper on the park's RV side.
It was during one of their previous trips when they saw that ground was being broken for the new tiny cabins.
During this latest trip the Mengarellis also stayed in a tiny cabin while Arnold "roughed it" by sleeping in a tent he pitched nearby.
Those staying in the tiny cabins enjoyed having access to microwaves and refrigerators, among other things.
"We were amazed by how clean and comfy they were and the nice furnishings," said Esther Mengarelli. "They were heated perfectly. We also stayed in one in the summer, and the air conditioning is good. They're very comfortable."
The tiny cabins and park setting seem to add to the enjoyment the group derives from time spent in Northwest Arkansas.
"I'd say what we love about it the most is easy access to all the trails," Kristen Anderson said. "For those that don't bike, you can hike the trails and walk the trails, and it's dog-friendly and people-friendly. It's also very safe. The kids can play in the creek, and we can go into town if we need to and grab something real quick from Allen's grocery story if we need to or go into Bentonville and enjoy Ozark Mountain Bagels like we did this morning.
"We love this area," she said.
Even though rain fell during part of their trip, the campers still found fun ways to spend their time.
"We did have a rainy day, so we went into town and shopped around and went to some of the local restaurants," said Kristen Anderson.
"We'll find things to do when we're here like going to the Amazeum and Crystal Bridges," added her husband.
While the group enjoys taking advantage of the many recreational opportunities this area has to offer, some of the most fun is spent just being together as a family.
"I like it because you can have some time to spend with your family," said young Brooklyn Anderson, who added that her dog, Cruz, also likes the tiny cabins.
Kenny Anderson said the group visits Northwest Arkansas "seven to eight times a year" but added that not all of the visits are camping trips.
"We may stay three or four times a year," he said. "We've camped and stayed in Airbnbs. Sometimes we just come down for a day trip."
The miles don't seem to matter when there's fun and family time at the destination.