Recently, we took a trip to the Big Dam Bridge in North Little Rock Arkansas. It had been many years since we had gone so we were overdue!
It was an incredibly cold and windy day when we decided to go but it was still worth it.
If you have never seen the Big Dam Bridge, you are in for a real treat. The Big Dam Bridge is the longest bicycle and pedestrian bridge in the world designed and built for that purpose.
That means that it isn’t an old railroad bridge that was converted for pedestrians. This bridge was built specifically for walkers, joggers and cyclists from the beginning.
It is also one of the best FREE things to do in Central Arkansas.
Also included in that list are things like playing at Burns Park, visiting the Old State House Museum and seeing the Old Mill that was featured in the movie Gone With The Wind. But, you can read all about those things here: 10 AMAZING Free Things to Do in Central Arkansas
About the Big Dam Bridge
The idea for the bridge was first tossed around in 1998, and in 2006, the bridge was completed.
The Big Dam Bridge is 4,226 lineal feet long. It definitely feels long when you walk the full distance. Had we been jogging, it would have been quite the workout but we were just walking slowly and taking in the views.
What makes this pedestrian bridge unique is that it sits 90 feet above the Arkansas River and the view from the center of the bridge is spectacular in all directions.
Big Dam Bridge Facts and Stats
- 14 feet wide for pedestrian and bicycling activities
- 1 million pounds of reinforcing steel
- 2 million pounds of steel beams
- 20 million pounds of concrete
This isn’t just a bridge. This bridge connects North Little Rock and Little Rock. It connects 15 miles of trails between the two cities and links to 7,000 acres of park land.
How The Big Dam Bridge Got Its Name
The Big Dam Bridge, which sits on top of the Murray Lock and Dam, got its name from Pulaski County Judge F.G. “Buddy” Villines. He said, “We’re going to build that dam bridge.”
Villines envisioned the bridge bringing the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock closer together while also promoting health and fitness. –source
“We live in a time where the lack of physical activity presents the greatest threat to our health. This bridge beckons us, challenges us to scale its heights again and again, until we can do so without breathing hard or feeling our muscles tightened. We can be physically fit. Let this be a “bridge to health and fitness.”Judge Buddy Villines, the man who had the idea of the bridge
Views from the top of the Big Dam Bridge
From the top of the bridge, you can get a view of Pinnacle Mountain. In fact, there is a monocular at the top that will help you get an up close view!
Pinnacle Mountain is a 1,011 foot summit in Central Arkansas. There are great hiking trails all throughout Pinnacle Mountain State Park and the view from the top of the mountain is spectacular.
Pinnacle Mountain sits just west of Little Rock.
It has over 22 miles of trails including 14 miles of mountain bike trails. It’s also certified as a Trail of Tears National Historic Site.
Pinnacle Mountain looks like a volcano but it’s not. However, we do have an ancient volcano in Arkansas that contains the only public diamond mine the the world. Don’t miss it!
Read about it here: Ancient Volcano in Arkansas: Crater of Diamonds State Park
Murray Lock and Dam on the Arkansas River
While we were there, we got to watch a barge go through the Murray Lock and Dam. It was a long process that was fun to watch.
This is the lock and dam that the bridge sits on top of.
We waved at one of the guys on the barge and he waved back. He even got the captain to honk the loud horn for us!
It made me wonder where they came from and where they were headed.
If you are ever in the area, be sure to stop by the Big Dam Bridge and take it all in. Whether you want to exercise or just get some fresh air, it’s a beautiful bridge to see!
Big Dam Bridge Location
You can visit the bridge from the Little Rock or North Little Rock side.
Little Rock side
North Little Rock Side
Campgrounds Near The Big Dam bridge
If you are looking for a place to camp that is centrally located and near the Big Dam Bridge, I have some options for you.
- Maumelle Park Campground is a favorite for many people in Central Arkansas because the drive there is short. It’s located on the Arkansas River and the sunsets are amazing.
- Lake Ouachita State Park is a favorite for residents of Central Arkansas. The drive down there is easy, and once you get there you’ll enjoy a wonderful camping vacation! We have even named Lake Ouachita State Park as being one of the BEST state parks in Arkansas for camping! (It’s a little more of a drive than Maumelle Park Campground.)
- Lake Sylvia Campground and Recreation Area – All campsites at Lake Sylvia Campground are first-come, first-served. This campground also offers a swimming area, toilets, drinking water and picnic tables. Lake Sylvia was also named one of the BEST Tent Camping Areas with Swimming near Little Rock!
Details and locations for all of those campgrounds are here: Best Campgrounds near Central Arkansas