Going through downtown and out Ouachita is normally faster than taking Gulpha Road, but coming back, it is normally faster to take Gulpha Road. (See below.)
Jim Wildhaber offers an alternative route to Albert Pike:
By taking this route, you miss every red light until you get on
You get only two stop signs and one yield sign.
Coming back home this way is a little trickier. Where Grand turns into Hwy. 70, you can see two exits on the right. The two exits merge and let you turn left onto Gulpha Rd.
But a quicker way to Gulpha Rd. is to take the left turn lane where Grand turns into a highway. This lets you go down the road on the left of Hwy.70 instead of taking the exits to the right side, but you are turning in front of traffic coming from Hwy. 70. Most of the time, it's light, but if it looks heavy, take the other exits to the right.
Out Malvern Ave. is the Garland County Library, the NPMC Hospital, the Hot Springs Country Club, and a connection to Hwy. 240 (MLK) to Central. You can also stay on Malvern to get to I-30. This is faster than taking Hwy. 7 to I-30.
Traffic usually backs up badly at the light at Grand and Malvern, resulting in a long wait. Here is an alternative, though this has a tricky turn to it:
Coming up Central, watch for the old building(s) on the left with the striped awnings. That is where you turn right on Belding. You'll also see a traffic light at the next intersection. If you miss the turn at Belding, you can turn right at the light and circle around. Better print out this map or write down the street names. It's easy to get turned around. When you get to Malvern, it's just a quick right turn and left turn to the library.
On a side note -- The street at the traffic light leads to the Prince Of Peace ("POP") church where one Saturday night a month they have the POPs Concert featuring two musical groups or soloists. Admission is $5 and is well worth it most of the time.
The movie theater in Benton is far superior to anything in H.S. It has stadium seating and better sound.
The normal way to get to the theater USED TO BE to stay on 5 straight until it runs into the I-30 service road, then turn left, but now the service road is one-way.
So now you have to take the shortcut: When you get near Benton, the road splits (to the right you come to a traffic light and from there you go to a bridge over I-30), or stay straight and you run into I-30 very shortly and you can only turn right. You need to be familiar with that split in the road because for the shortcut, you have to take the last road to the left before the split. That is Dogwood Drive. Follow it all the way to the theater shopping center. You can come back the same way, or on the I-30 service road.
One advantage of coming and going through Benton is that it is easier and you avoid going through Hot Springs. While it is a little longer, it is faster because you are on I-30 longer doing 70.
Here are other ways to come and go:
A. Take Hwy. 7 all the way to I-30. You have to drive through Hot Springs, which is time consuming. You can also get stuck behind slow traffic on the winding, mostly 2-lane Hwy. 7, so this is slow.
B. Take the Gulpha Road shortcut to get to Malvern Avenue (see above). Take Malvern all the way to I-30. This is a less direct route than Hwy.7, but you avoid most of the H.S. traffic, Malven is a less twisty road, and it is 4-lane most of the way.
C. From the East gate (or Balboa gate), turn right on Hwy. 5 to Hwy. 128 on the left. Stay on 128 until it comes out on Hwy. 70. Turn left on 70 and follow it to I-30. This is the faster route than the ones above because you avoid H.S. completely, and it is more direct than going through Benton.
D. A shortcut on the last shortcut is to turn LEFT on Hwy. 5 when you come out the East Gate, go a two miles and turn right. This road is called the "Owensville C/O" (cut-off). Follow it for about 5 miles and it runs into Ira Williams road and bears to the right. Very shortly after that you come to Hwy. 128. Turn left and proceed as above (in C). You cannot go as fast on this road as on 128 because it twists and is a tight squeeze for two cars abreast, but it is HALF the distance of going down 5 to 128 and out to the same point.
Hwy. 9 doesn't twist around as much as Hwy. 7, and instead of driving west across the Village at 30-45 MPH, when you get up to I-40, you are driving west at 70 MPH.
This is the faster way to go even if you are eventually going up Hwy. 7 north of I-40, which is probably the most scenic drive in the state.
If you are going to the Shackleford area, or if you just can't stand to be on I-30, below is a back route you can take. This road is 45 MPH most of the way and only one stop sign before you get to LR. Traffic is normally pretty light.
1. Take 5 towards Benton, but turn left on Hwy. 9, just past the fire station.
2. Stay on 9 until you reach Paron. When you see the "Paron" sign, take the next right, which turns (right) onto a road which eventually becomes Kanis. If you miss the first turn in Paron, take the next one, which is the same road.
3. When you reach LR, Kanis runs into Chenal Pkwy. and has a stop sign. Turn right onto Chenal and stay on it as it goes into the Shackleford shopping area.
This route is easier driving, but probably not any faster (and may even take longer) than going I-30. But if you find yourself in the Shackleford area around 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. needing to head back to HSV, this route back to the Village may be much faster than going down 430 to I-30, which can back up for a couple of miles.
Going back, you may not remember where to turn on to Kanis, so here's a tip: Go out Shackleford until you see an Acura dealer on your right. Just past that is a gas station on the right and the Kanis Road turn-off on the left.
Then just follow this road back to Hwy. 9 in Paron and turn left on 9, back down to 5, right on 5, etc.