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Northwest Arkansas
Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers MSA
Fayetteville skyline
Downtown Rogers
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Downtown Springdale
Downtown Rogers
Clockwise from top: Fayetteville within the Ozark Mountains, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, downtown Rogers, downtown Springdale, Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
Northwest Arkansas
Northwest Arkansas
Northwest Arkansas is located in the United States
Northwest Arkansas
Northwest Arkansas
Location in the United States
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
States Flag of Arkansas.svg Arkansas
Largest cities Fayetteville
Other Municipalities Bella Vista
Siloam Springs
 • Total 3,213.01 sq mi (8,321.7 km2)
 • Total 546,725 (105th)
 • Density 153/sq mi (59/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central Time Zone (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code(s) 479
Highest elevation 2515 ft/767 m
Lowest elevation 800 ft/244 m (sea level) at Beaver Lake.

Northwest Arkansas (NWA) is a metropolitan area and region in Arkansas within the Ozark Mountains. It includes four of the ten largest cities in the state: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville, the surrounding towns of Benton and Washington counties, and adjacent rural Madison County, Arkansas. The United States Census Bureau-defined Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area includes 3,213.01 square miles (8,321.7 km2) and 546,725 residents (as of 2020), ranking NWA as the 105th most-populous metropolitan statistical area in the U.S. and the 13th fastest growing in the United States.

Northwest Arkansas doubled in population between 1990 and 2010. Growth has been driven by the three Fortune 500 companies based in NWA: Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. as well as over 1,300 suppliers and vendors drawn to the region by these large businesses and NWA's business climate. There are also several large private employers like Simmons Foods in Siloam Springs. The region has also seen significant investment in amenities, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Walmart AMP, and the NWA Razorback Regional Greenway and the WOKA Waterpark set to open soon in Siloam Springs.


Constituent counties of the MSA include:




Partial view of Fayetteville's locally famous Dickson Street.


Fayetteville is a city in Washington County and home to the University of Arkansas. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 76,899. The city is the third most populous in Arkansas and serves as the county seat of Washington County. It's also known for Dickson Street, perhaps the most prominent entertainment district in the state of Arkansas, which itself contains the Walton Arts Center. Blocks from Dickson Street is the Fayetteville Historic Square, which hosts the nation's number one ranked Fayetteville's Farmer's Market. Fayetteville was also ranked 8th on Forbes Magazine's Top 10 Best Places in America for Business and Careers in 2007.


Springdale is a city in Washington and Benton Counties. According to 2010 Census Bureau, the population of the city is 73,123. Springdale is currently Arkansas's fourth-largest city, behind Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville. Springdale is the location of the headquarters of Tyson Foods Inc., the largest meat producing company in the world, and has been dubbed the "Chicken Capital of the World" by several publications. In 2008, the Wichita Wranglers of AA minor league baseball's Texas League moved to Springdale and play in Arvest Ballpark as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.


Rogers is a city in Benton County. As of the 2010 census, the city is the eighth most populous in the state, with a total population of 58,895. Rogers is famous as the location of the first Wal-Mart. In June 2007, BusinessWeek magazine ranked Rogers 18th in the 25 best affordable suburbs in the South. In 2010, CNN Money magazine ranked Rogers as the 10th Best Place to Live in the United States. The city is the home town of American country music singer/songwriter Joe Nichols, and Marty Perry, as well as David Noland. It is also where comedian Will Rogers married Betty Blake.


Monument in homage to James H. Berry, the Confederacy, and the Southern Soldier, located in the town square of Bentonville.

Bentonville is a city in Benton County. At the 2010 census, the population was 38,284, up from 20,308 in 2000 ranking it as the state's 10th largest city. Bentonville also is the county seat of Benton County and home to the headquarters of Wal-Mart, which is the largest retailer in the world. Bentonville has the location of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Founded by Sam Walton's daughter Alice Walton and designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, this museum is home to some of America's finest works of art.



The split between the Springfield Plateau and the Boston Mountains occurs in the center of Washington County, Arkansas very near Fayetteville. The rough, mountainous terrain south of Fayetteville is the Boston Mountains while the more-habitable Springfield Plateau contains the cities of Springdale, Bentonville and Rogers to the north.

NWA is located within the Ozark Mountains, a deeply dissected plateau within the U.S. Interior Highlands, the largest mountainous region between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains. Although the topography varies widely within the region, the Ozark geology is present throughout. Roughly at Fayetteville, the geology splits between the Boston Mountains to the south and the Springfield Plateau to the north. The Ouachita orogeny exposed the older limestones of the Springfield Plateau, resulting in a softer terrain, while the Boston Mountains retained steep, sharp grade changes. The Ozarks are covered by an oak-hickory-pine forest, with large portions of protected forestland remaining NWA. Approximately 25% of this forest has been cleared for development and agricultural uses.


White River at Spider Creek 001
White River at Spider Creek

Most of NWA is within the White River watershed, with the western portions being contained within the Illinois River watershed.

Within NWA, the White River is impounded at several locations, the most important of which is at Beaver Dam, forming the 13,700 acres (5,500 ha) Beaver Lake. This reservoir was created in the 1960s for flood control, recreational, and energy production uses. It also serves as the water supply for most of NWA, with Beaver Water District treating potable water and selling it directly to the four largest NWA municipalities.

The Illinois River watershed is a sensitive watershed that has been the subject of controversy within the area for many years. The phosphorus load of the Illinois has been subject of controversy, eventually resulting in litigation between Oklahoma and Arkansas reaching the United States Supreme Court in 1992. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified the Illinois as Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act, listing it as an "impaired and threatened water" due to the high phosphorus loads.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1840 12,151
1850 18,503 52.3%
1860 31,719 71.4%
1870 39,328 24.0%
1880 55,627 41.4%
1890 77,142 38.7%
1900 85,731 11.1%
1910 83,334 −2.8%
1920 86,639 4.0%
1930 87,842 1.4%
1940 91,793 4.5%
1950 99,789 8.7%
1960 101,137 1.4%
1970 137,299 35.8%
1980 189,982 38.4%
1990 222,526 17.1%
2000 325,364 46.2%
2010 440,121 35.3%
2020 546,725 24.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2016

Northwest Arkansas is the second-largest population center in the state, behind Central Arkansas. The two regions rank as 105th and 80th nationally by population, respectively. The region is the fastest-growing in the state, and the 12th fastest-growing in the United States, with a 24.22% growth rate between 2010 and 2020. Rather than a central city with suburbs model, Northwest Arkansas emerged as a unified region as small, disconnected cities grew and amalgamated over time. Thus, the official Census Bureau name Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area does not reflect traditional "Fayetteville as a principal city, with Springdale and Rogers as suburbs" model; rather a listing of the three largest cities in the region at the time of naming.

Fayetteville Farmer's Market
Northwest Arkansas residents and visitors at the Fayetteville Farmer's Market

Over half of Northwest Arkansas's population resides within the largest four cities, Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville, with each having demographic characteristics congruent with its largest employer. Fayetteville, home to the University of Arkansas, contains the highest proportion of adults over 25 with a bachelor's degree or higher, at 44.8%, significantly above the other communities, and in line with major metropolitan areas. Bentonville, home to white-collar workers at the Walmart Home Office and the ancillary vendor community, has the highest per-capita income in the region. Springdale and Rogers contain significant manufacturing and construction industries, and a corresponding high percentage of Blue-collar workers and major foreign-born populations. Over 10% of businesses in Springdale and Rogers are Hispanic-owned.

Approximately half of Northwest Arkansas residents are transplants from a different state or country.

Population, land area & population density (2016 Census Bureau estimates)
Population Land
Benton County &&&&&&&&&0258291.&&&&&0258,291 847.36 2,194.65 261.2 100.85
Washington County &&&&&&&&&0228049.&&&&&0228,049 941.97 2,439.69 215.6 83.24
Madison County &&&&&&&&&&016072.&&&&&016,072 834.26 2,160.72 18.8 7.26
Northwest Arkansas &&&&&&&&&0525032.&&&&&0525,032 3,163.07 8,192.31 166.0 64.09
Arkansas &&&&&&&&02988248.&&&&&02,988,248 52,035.48 134,771.27 56.0 21.62

Race and ethnicity

The region is less diverse than Arkansas and United States averages, with a 1.9% black population accounting for much of the proportional difference. The national trends of an increasing non-white proportion of the population and migration from rural areas to urban areas has also been seen in Northwest Arkansas and statewide since the 1990s, though the non-white population growth has lagged national averages. Historically, the northwestern half of the state was predominantly settled by whites in small farms for subsistence agriculture due to the hilly terrain and rocky soils, rather than the slave-intensive labor of plantation agriculture typical in the fertile and flat Arkansas Delta.

Northwest Arkansas institutions have placed different priority on diversity within the region. University of Arkansas Chancellor John A. White designated diversity the top institutional goal in 2010, seeking to create a campus community in line with state and national averages. The Northwest Arkansas Council listed "Promote racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity in Northwest Arkansas" last among priority placemaking objectives within the 2015 strategic plan.

The city of Gentry has a dense community of Hmong Americans, many resettled by the United States after the North Vietnamese invasion of Laos and subsequent Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act. Hmong National Development, a subsidiary of Hmong American Partnership, has an office in Fayetteville and Fairview, Missouri, one county north of the official Northwest Arkansas boundary. Gentry School District was the epicenter of cultural conflicts among Hmong, Hispanic, and white residents in the early 2000s.

A 2016 study of blacks and Hispanics in Arkansas cities found median incomes rising for blacks and declining for Hispanics in Bentonville.


As of the census of 2000, there were 347,045 people, 131,939 households, and 92,888 families residing within the MSA. The racial makeup of the MSA was 89.70% White, 1.22% African American, 1.53% Native American, 1.19% Asian, 0.29% Pacific Islander, 4.03% from other races, and 2.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.32% of the population. Over the past decade or more, Northwest Arkansas has been one of the fastest growing regions in the South.

The median income for a household in the MSA was $32,469, and the median income for a family was $38,118. Males had a median income of $27,025 versus $20,295 for females. The per capita income for the MSA was $16,159.

Entertainment and recreation


The Northwest Arkansas region is widely known for its natural beauty, and outdoor recreation. A local outdoor favorite is Devil's Den State Park, located outside of Fayetteville in West Fork, Arkansas. The park offers scenic camping, climbing, fishing, caves, trails, and hiking through the Ozark Mountains. The park is located just off Highway 74.

The most popular water destination is Beaver Lake. Beaver Lake has some 487 miles (784 km) of natural shoreline. With towering limestone bluffs, natural caves, and a wide variety of trees and flowering shrubs, it is a popular tourist destination. Paved access roads wind through twelve developed parks. These parks have modern campsites offering electricity and fire rings with drinking water, showers, and restrooms nearby. Other facilities, such as picnic sites, swimming beaches, hiking trails, boat launching ramps, and sanitary dump stations are also available in the parks.

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, which covers 86 acres (350,000 m2), is a new botanical garden now taking shape near Fayetteville. The site is located at the Fayetteville-Springdale border on Crossover Road (Highway 265) and currently includes seasonal plantings in a small area, a wildflower meadow, a lakeside hiking trail, and a self-guided tree identification tour. The garden's history dates to 1993 with a 2001 master plan. Construction will be undertaken in three phases. Phase 1 will build the garden gateway and entry road, parking area, visitor center, cafe and dining terrace, exhibit gallery, conference room, and 1/3 of the core gardens with 1/2 of the horticulture and maintenance facilities. Phase 2 will create additional gardens, offices, classrooms, boat rental facility, amphitheater, observatory, demonstration gardens, and the remaining core gardens. Phase 3 will add trails, tropical conservatory, and lakeside overlooks, with the western 50 acres (200,000 m2) dedicated to native woodland plant restoration and wayside interpretive stations.

Art and entertainment

Partial view of Fayetteville's Dickson Street.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville was recently completed. The museum, funded by Sam Walton's daughter, Alice Walton, and designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is home to some of America's finest works of art and has immediately become one of the nation's premier art museums.

The Walton Arts Center is Arkansas' largest performing arts center. It is located in Fayetteville near the campus of the University of Arkansas and serves as a cultural center for the Northwest Arkansas area. The building was opened in 1992 in large part because of funds donated by the Walton family (of Wal-Mart). The center is host to many musicals, plays, and other artistic and educational events throughout the year. The Walton Arts Center is also home to the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, currently under the direction of Paul Haas.

TheatreSquared is Northwest Arkansas's regional professional theatre. Its four-play season and annual Arkansas New Play Fest are attended by an audience of 22,000, including educational outreach program to approximately 10,000 students and their teachers. The company was recognized by the American Theatre Wing in 2011 as one of the nation's ten most promising emerging theatres.

The Arts Center of the Ozarks is the region's oldest community theatre. Since its inception in 1967, the ACO has grown from a small arts organization into a cultural center of regional significance. Located in downtown Springdale, the ACO offers a full season of mainstage plays and musicals, children's programs, visual arts exhibits, and classes in a variety of creative outlets.

Visitors to the area might also stop by the Wal-Mart Visitor Center. Located in Sam Walton's original Bentonville variety store, the Wal-Mart Visitors Center traces the origin and growth of Wal-Mart. The center was created as an educational and informative facility for those interested in this American retailing success story.

Anyone looking for a night on the town should head to the famous Dickson Street in downtown Fayetteville, just off the University of Arkansas campus. Lined with popular bars, restaurants, and shops, Dickson Street is always lively, especially after large sporting events. Dickson Street is home to the Walton Arts Center, the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ Festival, and many parades.


View of Razorback Stadium during a visit from ESPN's College Gameday

The sporting scene is large in Northwest Arkansas, primarily due to the presence of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas’ most successful, followed, and loved sports teams. The Razorbacks have a huge economic impact on the area, drawing fans from every corner of the state during football, basketball, and baseball seasons.

The Razorbacks currently field 19 total men's and women's varsity teams (8 men's and 11 women's) in 13 sports. The men's varsity teams are baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field; the 11 women's varsity teams are basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track, tennis, softball and volleyball. The Razorbacks compete in the NCAA's Division I (Division I FBS in football) and are currently members of the Southeastern Conference (Western Division).

State of the art facilities include: Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Bud Walton Arena, Baum Stadium, Randal Tyson Indoor Track Center, and the John McDonnell Outdoor Track.

In early 2008, Northwest Arkansas welcomed a Double-A minor league baseball team, formerly known as the Wichita Wranglers, to Springdale, where they became the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The Naturals play at the newly completed Arvest Ballpark.


Surface transportation

University of Arkansas Campus 03
I-49 runs south from Fayetteville into the Boston Mountains

The region is mainly served by Interstate 49. I-49 has been the cause of much frustration in the area due to frequent traffic jams and accidents caused by the sudden growth of the area. In addition, cities' infrastructure investments did not keep pace with the population growth so streets are frequently congested. A widening of I-49 to six lanes and improvements to interchanges, including Arkansas's first single-point urban interchange at Exit 85 [1], are currently in the final stages [2]. Other major highways that serve the area include US 62, US 71, US 71B, and US 412B.


Northwest Arkansas National Airport (often referred to by its IATA airport code, XNA) is the primary commercial service airport in the region. The facility opened in 1998, supplanting Drake Field in Greenland, which remains as a general aviation facility. XNA has one concourse, with twelve gates. The three most popular destinations for the year-long period ending June 2017 were Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and O'Hare International Airport, hubs for American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, respectively. The Northwest Arkansas Council has prioritized attracting a low-cost carrier to the airport, and has had relative success with Allegiant Air, which offers three permanent and three seasonal destinations.

The region has seven smaller, public use general aviation airports, including Drake Field, Rogers Executive Airport, Springdale Municipal Airport, Bentonville Municipal Airport, Siloam Springs Municipal Airport, Crystal Lake Airport, and Huntsville Municipal Airport. Beaver Lake Aviation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Walmart, is based in Rogers.

Mass transit

Gray Route, Razorback Transit, autumn
Razorback Transit bus on the campus of the University of Arkansas

Two public transit agencies serve the area; Ozark Regional Transit is a general transit agency with around a dozen local routes, plus commuter, paratransit, and special purpose routes. Razorback Transit primarily serves University of Arkansas students, is fare-free, and has a service area limited to Fayetteville. It is also open to the general public.


Booming prosperity accompanying a tremendous increase in the area's population has made Northwest Arkansas a recognized economic success. Many migrants come from Northeast Arkansas, South-Central Arkansas, and North Central Arkansas, to work in this booming area. The area is now seeking residents from places like Southwest Arkansas, and even Southeast Arkansas. The state's population grew 13.7 percent between 1990 and 2000, but the two-county metropolitan statistical area accounted for one-third of that growth. Benton and Washington counties grew 47 percent between 1990 and 2000. Almost all of the people who moved to those counties then were from California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and other parts of Arkansas. Estimates put the two-county population at roughly 373,055 by December 2004. Even during national economic turmoil, Northwest Arkansas has experienced 8.2 percent job growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February 2008 the Northwest Arkansas region as a whole had an unemployment rate of 4.1%. This unemployment rate gave Northwest Arkansas a rank of 41 out of 369 metropolitan areas in the United States. Per capita income in Northwest Arkansas is $31,191, according to the most recent figures from the United States Census Bureau. This is approximately $7,000 below the average per capita income.

Bentonville is world-renowned as a retail capital of the world, as it is headquarters to Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated. Springdale is home to Fortune 75 company Tyson Foods, the world's leading producer of poultry and beef, and second-largest producer of pork. J.B. Hunt Transport Services in Lowell, is the nation's largest publicly owned truckload carrier, with international networks in Canada and Mexico.

The region has been noted for income inequality, as rapid growth and inflow of professionals have come to a historically poor region in a poor state. Multinational companies have struggled to find a local workforce with the education, skills, and talent large enough to fuel the growing headcounts. The result has been a large number of transplants moving to the area from larger metropolitan areas in pursuit of jobs and amenities at a lower cost of living. Wealthy enclaves such as Pinnacle in Rogers and amenities built to cater to transplants to the area have transformed the economies and cultures of Northwest Arkansas's formerly small, quiet towns.

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