Eureka Springs Great Passion Play

The Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs AR

It’s the holiday season once again and Eureka Springs is bustling with festive activity. Those looking for an appropriately themed Christmas attraction would have to range pretty far to outdo The Great Passion Play. The Christian theme park is open all year long but goes all out for Christmas with a variety of popular attractions.

You likely already know about the seven story tall Christ of the Ozarks, located on top of Magnetic Mountain. Both it and The Great Passion Play christian theme park owe their existence to Gerald L. K. Smith, a conservative politician who retired to Eureka Springs in the 1960’s.

Christ of the Ozarks was Smith’s first big project in the area and it remains one of the most popular. His next idea was even more radical: a live-action, Christian theme park. The attraction opened in 1968 and continues to draw thousands of visitors to Eureka Springs every year.

Visiting The Great Passion Play

The Great Passion Play theme park is home to a variety of Christian-themed attractions.

The most popular attraction, of course, is The Passion Play itself. This hour-and-forty-five minute presentation of the Christ’s last week of mortal life is presented on a multi-level set with special effects, live animals, and a cast of 170 actors. The play is performed several times a week each month, May to October, with special performances around Easter and Christmas. While the play is truly stunning and absorbing it’s not all you’ll find to see and do at the park. Not by a long shot!

The Great Passion Play, Eureka Springs AR

The Holy Land Tour is another extremely popular park attraction, allowing you to step back in time to experience the people and places of the Bible first-hand. The Holy Land Tour includes such sights as the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and an opportunity to meet and speak with actors representing biblical characters.

The Sacred Arts Center is home to over 1,000 works of art, some of which date back to the ninth century. The Bible Museum contains more than 6,000 bibles in over 600 different languages. You can also hike or mountain bike the park trails, some of which lead to the base of the Christ of the Ozarks.

Other attractions include a history museum, backstage tours, screenings of God With Us: New Testament film, gift shops, dining, and more.

Christmas at the Park

The Great Passion Play goes all out for the Christmas season with two, special holiday attractions.

The first is a Christmas Drive-Through Light Display with over 250 Christmas trees and dozens of nativities leading to the Christ of the Ozarks statue, which will also be lit. The drive-through light display is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from Thanksgiving night through January 1st, 2023.

The second special attraction is the annual Christmas Snow Village with Trains display, the largest display of its kind in the south! The exhibit includes over 300 buildings, 3 0 scale trains, an 0 scale trolley, and a Polar Express train. Such tiny details! The Christmas Snow Village with Trains will also be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from Thanksgiving through January 1st, 2023.

Christ Of The Ozarks at Christmas

Other park attractions open during this season include the Holy Land Tour, museums, and Backstage Tour. Visit the park online for more details.

The Great Passion Play is open 9am to 5pm all year-round, excepting Sundays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. ​Christ of the Ozarks and the park trails are open sunrise to an hour after sunset, 365 days a year.

Best of all, The Great Passion Play is located less than a half-hour’s drive from Sugar Ridge Resort! Spend a couple of hours or more at the park, then it’s an easy and scenic drive back to the comforts of your Beaver Lake cabin or suite.

Happy Holidays!

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Fans of big cats and other exotic creatures will want to pay a visit to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. The 450+ acre compound is home to almost 100 rescued animals and one of the country’s largest big cat sanctuaries.

Big cats are always fascinating and have been in the news a lot thanks to a growing awareness of how they tend to be neglected or abused in captivity.  Lions and tigers may be beautiful but they make terrible pets. They’re dauntingly strong, aggressive, massive eaters, and cannot survive in bedrooms or backyards.

People still try, unfortunately, and that’s where Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge comes in. Turpentine Creek is a non-profit organization that has been rescuing animals since the 1990’s, and we mean rescue. The refuge works hard to provides safe, healthy habitats for their animals and is accredited by the GFAS. They do not breed or sell animals or animal parts, don’t allow hands-on interaction or cub petting, and don’t exhibit animals at shows.

You can, however, tour the refuge and see the animals in their spacious, permanent habitats.

Visiting Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is located just a half hour from Sugar Ridge Resort at 239 Turpentine Creek Lane in Eureka Springs, AR.

Visitors to the Refuge have a number of options during their visit. Of course, the #1 attraction is the big cats, which you can see on the guided tours of the habitat. Guests board the open-air tram for an hour-long guided tour of large cat habitats.

Visitors can also explore the refuge’s Discovery Area where you’ll see some of the smaller animal residents. The Discovery Area is also home to the bear tunnel, where you can view bears and big cats.

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

Those wishing to see even more can sign up for a 2 hour long, Carnivore Caravan Tour. This private, behind the scenes tour takes you through areas not open to the public in the comfort of an SUV. You’ll see all the habitats, the veterinary hospital, and the commissary where the animals’ meals are prepared.

Turpentine Creek also offers educational seminars about animals living at the Refuge. Topics include natural habitat, species conservation, biodiversity, and more.

Visit www.turpentinecreek.org for more information. You can also visit the refuge on Facebook.

Spend a few hours getting to know the good folks and beautiful animals at Turpentine Creek, then it’s just a short, scenic jaunt back to your comfy digs at Sugar Ridge Resort. Lovely!

Discover Beautiful Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel

If unique and beautiful architecture in a truly sublime setting sounds like something you’d enjoy, we recommend a visit to Thorncrown Chapel. The stunningly crafted architectural marvel is nestled in the woods, just 15 minutes from Sugar Ridge Resort.

Visitors to the Beaver Lake Eureka Springs area will find no end of attractions and activities to keep them occupied. Outdoor adventure like boating, fishing, and hiking, along with some of the region’s best art, food, fun, shopping, sightseeing, and more.

The area is home to lots of unique sights and attractions, as well. Natural caverns, springs, and rock formations, along with the fascinating works of man. Things like historic downtown Eureka Springs, Christ of the Ozarks, and Quigley’s Castle. In this latter category, nothing is quite as affecting or beautiful as Thorncrown Chapel.

Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel is located at 12968 Highway 62 West, just outside Eureka Springs, AR, a 15 minute drive from our Beaver Lake cabins.

Thorncrown Chapel interior design

The chapel, built in 1980 by E. Fay Jones, stands on a narrow, wooded shelf on a north slope of the Ozarks. Landowner Jim Reed contracted Jones, who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright, to create a structure that would attract passer-by to worship.

The chapel is simple, yet enchantingly majestic and considered one of the finest religious spaces of modern times. Many think the structure is open to the air when they first see it. That’s because the chapel walls are glass. 425 separate sheets, in fact, comprising over six thousand square feet of glass!

The rest of the chapel, with little exception, was constructed using materials taken from the local wilderness. The intricate and mostly wooden structure rises forty-eight feet up into the forest canopy. The foundation uses more than 100 tons of native stone, topped with colored flagstone, allowing it to blend seamlessly into its surroundings. Inside, angular beams support the peaked roof with perfect, interlocking symmetry.

It truly is a sight to be seen. No matter your personal beliefs, its beauty is universal.

Thorncrown Chapel is open March through November, 9am to 5pm, with occasional closings for special events. Sunday services are 9am and 11am, April through October. November through the third week in December, 11am only. Services last approximately one hour. Everyone is welcome.

Learn more by visiting the chapel online at thorncrown.com. You can also find the chapel on Facebook.

Explore War Eagle Cavern

War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake

Cavers and others after a little underground adventure will enjoy a visit to War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake. This unique cave is not only Arkansas’ only lakeside cavern, it’s also one of Northwest Arkansas’ largest caves, and one of the oldest show caves in the state. Best of all, it’s less than an hour from Sugar Ridge Resort!

There are no end to the activities you can enjoy during your stay at our Beaver Lake cabins. Fishing, boating, swimming, hiking, picnicking, and Eureka Springs is only 20 minutes away.

Those looking for something a little out of the ordinary, however should consider checking out War Eagle Cavern. This unusual lakeside cave is home to three stories of caverns and a wide array of strange formations. Domes, rimstone dams, huge rooms, an underground lake, waterfalls, and more. Even more unusual, a fresh water spring flows out of the cave’s mouth alongside the entry path.

Guided Tours and More

War Eagle Cavern currently offers 3 different tours.

War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake

Traditional Cavern Tours are lead and narrated by expert guides will lead you through the first half-mile of the cavern. You’ll see a variety of natural formations, learn about the cavern’s history, and maybe even see some of the resident bats and salamanders.

Lantern Tours are after-hours guided tours lit only by hand held oil lamps. You’ll also hear stories and history not told on any of the other tours. Spooky fun!

Wild Cavern Tours are just what they sound like: guided tours that take you beyond the well-maintained and well-lit walkways of the main tours.
You’ll twist, crawl and climb through 2 miles of the cave that few ever see to incredible formations, including a 100ft deep subterranean canyon. For the adventurous who don’t mind getting muddy!

After you’ve finished your tour, don’t hurry off. There’s more to see and do.

A variety of scenic hiking trails lead from the cavern, through the forest, to lovely natural waterfalls and expansive views of Beaver Lake. You can also wander down and feed the fish in the lake from the boat dock.

War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake

Those looking for further entertainment can enjoy gemstone panning, the Lost in the Woods maze, or exploring the mysteries of the Moonshiners’ Mystery Shack. There is also an on-site gift shop.

War Eagle Cavern

War Eagle Cavern is located at 21494 Cavern Drive in Rogers, AR.

The cave is open daily, March 5th through Thanksgiving Weekend, 9:30am to 5pm. The last cavern tour leaves at 4pm.

Learn more at the cavern website. You can also find the cavern on Facebook.

Spend a few hours at War Eagle Cavern, perhaps with an added stop for lunch at the nearby War Eagle Mill Bean Palace, yum! After that, it’s a just a short, scenic drive back to your cabin at Sugar Ridge Resort. Lovely!