Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Compton Gardens in Bentonville

compton gardens bentonville

Compton Gardens is a beautiful park and conference center located in the heart of Bentonville, Arkansas just a few blocks north of the square. Compton Gardens features some nice walking paths that take visitors by beautiful gardens and lush scenery. However, if you are interested in hiking or biking on your visit, the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway runs along the eastern edge of the park, conveniently connecting it to the Bentonville square and the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art.


Dr. Neil Compton

I begin most of my hiking posts with a bit of history, so you should know the drill. Compton Gardens Park and Conference center was the home of Dr. Neil Compton who practiced family medicine for many years in Bentonville. In addition to medicine, Dr. Compton was very passionate about preserving nature. During his life, he planted acres of trees, plants, and flowers, many of which were not native to the Ozarks.

During the 1960s the Army Corp of Engineers was planning to impound the Buffalo River to create lakes similar to the White River Valley in around Branson, Missouri. Dr. Neil Compton fought hard to stop the construction of dams, so the river could continue to flow freely. Many credit Dr. Compton with saving the Buffalo River - which is now a federally protected national scenic waterway. Many visitors to the Buffalo National River might not realize that it was almost turned into a lake and another tourist trap in the Ozarks. 

Dr. Compton's family donated his former home and property for the creation of a park in his memory. Today, Compton Gardens serve as a testament to his commitment to preserve nature for future generations to enjoy. In fact, his old canoe sits on top of the house (which is now used as a conference center). The park is owned and managed along with the historic Peel Mansion - which is a civil war era mansion in Bentonville. (If you are a history buff, I recommend that you tour the Peel Mansion the next time you are in Bentonville).

Compton Gardens Park

compton gardens park

During the spring and summer, the park is covered by a thick canopy of trees and lush plants. Crystal Springs Garden is full of beautiful flowers. I have seen a lot of people take their graduation and spring formal photos in the park. In the fall the trees change colors offering visitors a nice view of beautiful fall foliage in the Ozarks. A small (unnamed) spring flows through the valley along the eastern edge of the park.

Compton Gardens hosts several cool events throughout the year. For example, each spring they have a beer garden that features local craft brewers. Many of the vendors who attend the Bentonville Film Festival use the park. I see a lot of school groups use the park for fundraisers on Saturdays. I know that the conference center is rented for private events too.

Compton Gardens Walking Trails

The Northwest Arkansas Razorback Greenway often gets very crowded with bikers, joggers, and walkers between Crystal Bridges and the Bentonville square. Therefore, I enjoy taking a little detour through the park to enjoy the peaceful serenity of its less-crowded walking trails. This also gives me a chance to stop and take in the scenery from one of the park's rock benches. 

compton gardens walking trail
The park also features some cool mountain biking trails for more experienced riders who enjoy challenging terrain. Those bike trails definitely aren't for the faint of heart, nor the inexperienced rider.

I know that the park is more beautiful during the warmer months when the trees have leaves and the flowers are blooming. However, last winter I visited Bentonville after a light snowstorm. Compton Gardens was transformed into a winter wonderland! The city had the trails cleared, so I was able to safely walk through the park covered in light snow. Shout out to the city of Bentonville's Parks and Recreation Department!

compton gardens snow
The next time you find yourself in Bentonville, you need to visit Compton Gardens Park. No matter what time of the year you visit, you are sure to experience the beauty of Dr. Compton's deep love of nature. The park has a decent parking lot, or you can easily walk from the square, which is just a couple blocks south.

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