34 In Arkansas/ Hiking + The Outdoors/ Missouri/ Travel/ Travel Talk

One Woman’s Love Letter to The Ozarks

Over the last two years, I have truly fallen in love with the Ozarks. Over the last (almost) two years we’ve really started to embrace this area that covers Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. It’s come to be a legitimate favorite area of the U.S. of mine. For our anniversary, Matt and I spent a weekend in Arkansas, and we had a realization that that was our last Ozarks adventure, just the two of us, that we’ll probably take for a few years. It actually made us a bit sad. That feeling has inspired this letter from me to The Ozarks.

A Love Letter to the Ozarks

Dear Ozarks,

It was with a slightly heavy heart that Matt and I moved here. We loved our life in Asheville and while we always thought of our move back “home” (well, my hometown) as temporary, it was hard to leave a place we loved so much. I wanted to be close to my family, be here to prepare for our upcoming wedding and also live somewhere with a lower cost-of-living so we could save for our big trip. You let us do all of those things, but what I didn’t expect was that you would give me so much more.

A Love Letter to the Ozarks

You gave me memories from trips to last a lifetime. Thank you for your often overlooked but outstanding beauty. I will never forget these last two years of explorations. Although I took you for granted for over 25 years of my life, you sat patiently waiting for me to explore your rivers, mountains and hollers. You became my respite from fernweh and a place where my relationship with Matt grew and was nurtured. You let me know that there was a place I could feel at home in the Ozarks if I took the time to find it.


You’ve been the destination of many trips, long and short. I’ve hiked hundreds of miles of your trails with my closest friends, new friends, my family and my husband. Waterfalls, lakes, mountains, rivers – you shared them all. You helped me achieve goals on these trails. You showed me that beauty is found in unexpected and underrated places. Along with all kinds of natural beauty, I got to explore the beauty of old towns as well. I visited museums, learned about history of the people who came here before me and had more than a few locally brewed pints with good people from all over the region.

Thank you for making me feel small looking up bluff faces or over cliff edges. Thank you for making me feel strong after finishing a challenging hike. And thank you for reminding me just what my priorities are in life: family + friends, adventures, the environment and feeling secure in myself + my choices.

The last thing I want to thank you for the is keeping me inspired. You taught me to master the art of weekend wanderings. You showed me wonder in big ways, you kept me writing frequently + practicing new photography skills. Even when I was mentally exhausted or going through tough times, all it took was a walk outside or catching a sunrise or sunset from a scenic spot and all was well in my mind again. You gave me focus during one of the most life-changing periods of my 27 years of existence.

With Love, Always, Paige

Thanks for reading this love letter to The Ozarks. Since Matt + I moved here in Sept. of 2015 we’ve gone from being engaged, to being married. We’ve hiked hundreds of miles together, mostly in the Ozarks, but also beyond. We settled into a routine that allowed us to save enough money to escape for a year abroad. I’m beyond grateful to the people + places we encountered in The Ozarks over the last two years. We love you all.

All of the photos from my love letter to The Ozarks were taken by my amazingly talented husband. You can find more of his work on his website.

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  • Reply
    July 17, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    I love this, Paige! I’m happy you have had such wonderful times connecting with your local environment but I just love the fact that you’ve come to appreciate the uniqueness of the land, beyond just the surface stuff.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Thanks Meghan. It’s been amazing getting to really dig deep and explore out here. I think that it will really boom in popularity over the next decade, so it’s amazing to explore when you can be all alone on these gorgeous trails.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    The Ozarks are home. I couldn’t help but to smile as I read through your letter. I see me and any avid Ozark hikers in you and you in us. Your love is shared, this letter is from all of us. <3

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Thank you so much! I’m assuming you’re based in the Ozarks – which part?

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    July 17, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Some places make you fall hopelessly in love with them at first sight while with others it happens gradually. Ozark looks so beautiful and pristine, it is no ‘wunder’, it has you enthralled. We too look at places as more than just that. We feel places have a heart too and hence have a relationship with them like people.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

      They definitely do, especially when rediscovering a pace that you call home.

  • Reply
    Siddhartha Joshi
    July 18, 2017 at 2:02 am

    This was beautiful and your love for Ozarks clearly comes across. I had never heard of these before, but now I am also slowing falling in love with them 🙂

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    July 18, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I love this ode to the Ozarks! This is one region we haven’t made it to in the States and after reading this and seeing your incredible photos it’s making me want to pack my bags now and go! I love how much meaning the Ozarks have with your personal relationship with Matt too, so sweet!

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    I’ve never been to Ozarks before and to be completely honest, never heard of it either but I love this letter that you made for a place that holds a special place in your life. I can see why you love this place.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    I wasn’t aware of the existence of Ozarks! Sounds like it has brought you some great memories with your husband since you moved there! Hope you have many more wonderful adventures ahead of you in Ozarks!

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    July 19, 2017 at 7:07 am

    What a touching and a lovely letter. Truly, there’s really a place where we get to really attached because of the great memories that we have about the place. I know how it feels like to leave a place that is close to our heart. I’m sure that you’ll get to go back. enjoy your coming wedding with Matt and wish you both a happy marriage. God bless always!

  • Reply
    Patricia Steffy (@PLSteffy)
    July 19, 2017 at 8:16 am

    What a lovely letter (and sentiment)! I’ve never spent any real time in the Ozarks, and your piece has made me think that I’m really missing something special. Plus, the pictures certainly make it look like a place that would be so much fun to explore. Andy is already an avid hiker, and I’m … uh… working on it. 🙂 We’re going to have to add this to our travel wish list for sure!

  • Reply
    Rahul Khurana
    July 19, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Beautiful letter i have ever read. Loved the way you expressed your feeling to this place and how it taught you so many things. Being in the nature makes one learn a lot. I am really inspired by this. 🙂

  • Reply
    Claire Summers
    July 19, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Beautifully written post. I can see from your images why you have fallen in love with it. I love that you have mastered the art of being a Weekend Warrior!

  • Reply
    Vibeke Johannessen
    July 19, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I love the way you write. I have fallen In love with my hometown after living away for 6 years. The Ozarks looks so beautiful and peaceful. I really want to check it out. ☺

  • Reply
    July 19, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Awe!! This is so beautiful and I love that the Ozarks inspired your weekend wanderings 🙂 I’m actually going to Arkansas on Friday and can’t wait to see this beautiful part of America!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 19, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Thank you very much! That’s so awesome! What part are you visiting?

  • Reply
    Sally E
    July 19, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Aw, this is such a beautiful and well written letter! I have never visited this area but your words and photos have certainly inspired me! I’ll have to go visit some day 🙂

  • Reply
    Meg Jerrard
    July 20, 2017 at 12:25 am

    A beautiful tribute to such a stunning destination – we’ve heard that Arkansas (and the Ozarks) is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, so I cant wait to get there myself and head to the trails and cliffs you’ve fallen in love with. I’m so glad to hear that you settled into your new home even if it was tough leaving your last port of call 🙂

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 4:54 am

    I have never heard of Ozarks but it sounds and looks beautiful. I can see why you have fallen in love with the area. I love been outdoors and in nature this place looks ideal. Especially love Waterfalls and mountains. Btw glad that you have settle in ok as well too 🙂

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 9:07 am

    WOW! I had never even heard of this place and I am already scrambling to find time in my schedule to get out there and visit. I love how passionate you are about the Ozarks – thats when you really inspire others to see its beauty. Thanks for sharing <3

  • Reply
    July 20, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Ozarks looks very interesting. Believe it or not – I had never heard of this place before. I love all your pictures in this post, specially that waterfall. 🙂 Did you end up swimming in it?

  • Reply
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie
    July 22, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Gorgeous photos! It’s so great to have a familiar place you appreciate and can return to and always feel comfortable. I haven’t spent nearly as much time as you in the Ozarks, but I do love the mountains near me in New York State. There’s just something about being outside hiking, feeling small with the towering rock all around that clears your mind and fills your heart.

  • Reply
    Chrysoula Manika
    July 22, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Such a lovely post. It looks like a great place to stay especially if you are a nature lover. Your photos and words about this place really makes me want to visit.

  • Reply
    July 22, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Truly an overlooked area of the US. I’ve heard such good things and your pictures are beautiful!

  • Reply
    Tamara Elliott
    July 22, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I’ve always wanted to see the Ozarks, after reading the Little House on the Prairie books as a little girl!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    The Ozarks looks like a great spot to explore, to wander and to get lost in nature. Beautiful!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    Such a great letter! It sounds as though you reconnected with yourself and set yourself up for the next life transition. Excited to follow along your year abroad!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    I would love to see photos of the Ozarks in a different season too. I’m sure Fall would be absolutely stunning and in winter, when the waterfalls freeze over, the place would look like a dream.

  • Reply
    July 23, 2017 at 5:08 am

    Lovely letter, sounds like you’ve made so many great memories. Hiking around Ozarks looks absolutely stunning. I can see why you’ve fallen in love

  • Reply
    July 23, 2017 at 7:31 am

    This is such a beautiful way to convey love for a place. I love such outdoor kind of places where one can connect with nature. I hope to get there and see all in real.

  • Reply
    Trisha Velarmino
    July 23, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    This is a very sweet love letter for the Ozarks, Paige. Sometimes we forget to explore the place where we actually live in, but when we do, we are so surprised at how beautiful it is. I can feel your love for it while reading the letter. <3

  • Reply
    Courtney Minor
    July 23, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I’ve lived in St. Louis most of my life, and yet I’ve never explored the Ozarks. I’ve been meaning to explore closer to home, and this has inspired me to consider a new area for new adventures.

  • Reply
    Jenn and Ed Coleman
    July 23, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    The Ozarks seem like a fair substitute for Ashville. You don’t have the hip, outdoorsy feel yet but I could see it coming. We had friends that moved to Little Rock for a while and thought that it stood up well to their home in Pacific Beach (San Diego).

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