One thousand acres of mud, trails and hilly terrain, perfect for off-road vehicles of all shapes and sizes. That’s what you get when you make your way to Carter Off-Road Park in Alexander.
“As I was looking at the area, I decided this would be a great spot for people to bring their Jeeps, four-wheelers and side-by-sides for mud and fun, and they’ve eaten it up ever since,” said owner Mark Carter. “This is the single biggest tract of land of its kind, positioned perfectly between Benton and Little Rock.”
And as Carter will tell you, his park has everything enthusiasts could ask for when it comes to outdoor, off-road, mud-slinging fun. “We’ve got plenty of bottomland out here where people can come out, give it a shot and get as muddy as they want,” he said. “There are several hundred acres of hills for those Jeeps and rides that don’t want to get so muddy. This terrain is perfect for whatever you want and has plenty for everyone.”
A longtime lover of the outdoors, Carter shares a personal connection with the land he now owns and offers as a year-round destination spot for his fellow high-end hobbyists. But as he recalls, his exploration of the land started when he was younger and when things were much different.
“My dad didn’t live very far from here, so when we were kids, we rode our four wheelers through these same woods and areas we use today,” he said. “Granted, it didn’t look like it does now, but I have a lot of memories of exploring this area and some great times spent at the creek that runs through the property now.”
An entrepreneur with close to a dozen businesses to his credit, Carter, 46, first got the idea for his unique park after conversations with friends turned from ideas to something more serious. “About 15 years ago, I bought 500 acres and made a deal with myself that when this tract grew to 1,000 acres, I’d open the park.”
“Given that it’s in such a perfect spot, just south of the Otter Creek Bass Pro Shop, it means riders don’t have to go out to their deer camps or somewhere else if they want a place to ride and get outdoors,” Carter added. “Instead, they come right here.”
Carter continued accumulating land during the next several years, and in 2014, the park was born. “This is a whole lot of work. Don’t get me wrong,” Carter said. “But at the end the day, this is a whole lot of fun, definitely one of the more entertaining businesses I own.”
Carter and his marketing director, Paige Bryant, recalled that some of the early attractions to the center were the 4,000-foot off-road obstacle course and the bounty hole—a massive mud hole set to challenge some of the best customized off-road vehicles around.
Since then, the draw has gotten quite a bit bigger and includes expanded trails, hill climbs, mud boggin’, Tug-Of-War and Carter’s Bounty Course. “We’re always looking for something new, and by the numbers we keep bringing in each year, I’d say our riders are happy with what they see,” said Bryant.
The park also has campsite locations, RV sites with hook-ups, huts, castle rooms and tree houses for rent to accommodate all types of travelers.
“We try to offer a nice variety,” Carter said. “We have the most primitive for the tent campers to the tree houses with electricity and running water for those who don’t feel like roughing it. Truth is, if you plan right, you don’t really have to leave the grounds if you don’t want to.”
In recent years, Carter Off-Road Park is also drawing in thousands each year with its live events and festivals. “We schedule four events a year, and we try to keep them around the same time so people can plan their schedules,” Bryant said. “Our biggest is coming up in May with our 8th annual Mud Daze.”
Mud Daze is a four-day festival from May 13-16 that includes riding competitions, vendors and live music. This year, country stars Chris Jansen and Niko Moon are scheduled to perform.
“We draw more than 7,000 people for this event,” Bryant said. “It’s huge for us, bringing in riders from Missouri, Texas and as far away as Canada.”
“We’re thrilled with the turnout we get for Mud Daze,” Carter added. “While it’s great for our business, the event has an incredible economic impact on the area. We hear from restaurant, convenience store and hotel owners each year about how excited they are for the event and how, many times, they have to hire additional help to take care of everyone.”
For more information on Mud Daze and Carter Off-Road Park, visit their web site at www.carteroffroadpark.com or on Facebook by searching for Carter Off-Road Park. You can also give them a call at 501.400.3860.