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Web Extra: Fall Foliage Drawing Visitors to the Ozarks

Fall foliage is bringing business to northwest Arkansas.
Crawford County, AR -- (KNWA) Fall foliage is bringing business back to Highway 71, as tourists take the scenic route.

Business owners on the road say traffic picks up as soon as the leaves start turning, and they hope to take advantage of the Natural state's Fall spectacle.

Ann Payne lives in Springdale, and before Interstate 540 was built, she remembers passing the Artist Point Gift Shop on the way to and from the River Valley.

"This is the way that we always came," she says. "(We) always enjoyed Artist Point and always stopped here to see the view... fall colors in the Ozarks, not a prettier place on the Boston Mountains than right here."

The windy path is most popular during the Fall, and only a few businesses have survived the change.

"You can see so many of the places that used to be open that are now boarded up," Payne says. "We were just commenting how sad it was for all the people that depended on this road for their livelihood."

Artist Point Owner Angie May says the shop's been around for nearly 60 years, but she took it over six years ago.

"It's been lots of fun," she says. "Lots of hard work, lots of fun, but (we) could use a little bit more traffic up here."

She says late October into November often outpaces the Summer months.

"Everybody's coming up from all over really, Texas... Oklahoma," she says. "The colors are just beautiful and I'm hoping that next weekend it will be busy."

But even if sales aren't what they used to be, May feels lucky to be located on the old road.

"It's the most gorgeous place that you could ever be," she says. "I'm fortunate that I'm here to see it."

Payne hopes more people will take the time to slow down and enjoy the ride.

"It's still a beautiful, beautiful road," she says. "I would recommend the Scenic 71 to anyone that has not had the opportunity to drive it yet."
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