Baxter County is located in the north central section of Arkansas and is approximately 600 square miles. Baxter County has elevations ranging from 800 to 1,400 feet. Baxter County was formed on March 24, 1873, from parts of Fulton, Izard, Marion and Searcy Counties and was named for Elisha Baxter, then the Governor of Arkansas. Mountain Home is the County seat.
Mountain Home is the county seat. The landscape of Baxter County is rugged and mountainous. The county courthouse sits between two of the state's largest lakes, Bull Shoals and Norfork. The third floor rooms of the courthouse were added between 1908 and 1912 to give a third floor because the previous courthouse only had two stories, and in the early nineteen hundreds another thriving town in Baxter County was trying to get to be the county seat, therefore the Arkansas Legislature passed an Act requiring the courthouse to have three stories; thus, a third story was built in a hurry. The courthouse is located fourteen miles from the oldest courthouse in Arkansas, the log house of Major Wolfe, built in 1809 and still standing at the town of Norfork. Over the past three decades, the population of Baxter County has boomed. Much of the county's growth and more than half its tax dollars can be traced to tourism and retirement. Visitors often return to take up residence. Other resources include a technical campus of Arkansas State University and a fine regional medical center located in Mountain Home. The county has a large water-base recreation such as the White River, North Fork River, Lake Norfork, Bull Shoals Lake and the Buffalo National River.
The County has approximately 210 miles of state maintained highways and has approximately 900 miles of locally maintained roads. Baxter County increased from 41,513 in 2010 to 41,615 in 2020. Mountain Home, the County Seat, had a population of 12,825 in 2020. Other incorporated areas of the County in order by population are Gassville (2,171), Cotter (886), Lakeview (775), Norfork (465), Salesville (473), Briarcliff (236), and Big Flat (88).
The county has two hydroelectric dams operated by the Corps of Engineers. Norfork Dam is located on the North Fork River at river mile 4.8, four miles northeast of Norfork. Bull Shoals Dam is located on the White River at the river mile 418.6 in Baxter and Marion counties, seven miles north of Cotter and 10 miles west of Mountain Home.