Brentwood Rest Area, Hwy 71, Arkansas

Three from the Road #13 – 2010 trip

West Fork of the White River, Brentwood Rest Area, Hwy 71, Arkansas

West Fork of the White River, Brentwood Rest Area, Hwy 71, Arkansas

On July 2, 2010, our first day of travel for a trip out west, we were I540 in western Arkansas trying to decide where to pull over for a break and lunch. Just before we got to the Winslow exit, I remembered a rest area on old highway 71 that we used to stop at almost every time we went over the mountains.  We weren’t sure that it would be still open since almost all of the through traffic bypasses that area now.  We decided to check it out.

During the 1980s and 90s, we often traveled US Highway 71 to northwest Arkansas to visit Karen’s family. Along the way, we would sometimes make a stop at the State of Arkansas rest area near Brentwood. During most of that time, a new four lane highway was under construction to bypass old US 71.  On January 8, 1999, the new highway was fully opened to traffic as 540, reducing our travel time from sometimes over 3 hours – depending on traffic and weather – to just over 2 hours.

Brentwood Rest Area, Hwy 71, Arkansas

We were pleased to find that the rest area was not only still open, but had been significantly improved.  The rest room building and the area around it was still much the same, but remodeled, with new fixtures, and cleaner overall.

Located on US 71, between Winslow and West Fork, the park now boasts a 1/3 mile fitness trail and other recent improvements.  Part of the trail is on the bank of the West Fork of the White River, which at this time of year is normally little more than a trickle.

No longer a State of Arkansas facility, it is now the Brentwood Community Park.  With traffic moving to I540 (now I49) after that freeway opened in the late 90s, rest area usage plunged.  The Arkansas State Highway Department closed it in 2001 because of vandalism and lack of use.  It was subsequently reopened with the idea of locating a law enforcement substation there.  After that never materialized, the park was on the verge of being closed again when local residents volunteered to take care of daily maintenance.

West Fork of the White River, Brentwood Rest Area, Hwy 71, Arkansas

West Fork of the White River, Brentwood Rest Area, Hwy 71, Arkansas


References:

3 from the road, Arkansas, landscape, photography, road trip, stream

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