This Gorgeous State Has Everything for Outdoor Fun
Arkansas State Parks provide the perfect setting for a wide range of activities. Whether you want to go hiking, biking, camping, or fishing or kayaking on the water, there are plenty of locations to choose from.
You’ll Love Arkansas State Park Camping for RVers
1. Lake Ouachita State Park
Visitors can enjoy nature in all its beauty at this Arkansas State Park camping spot. Located near Lake Ouachita, Arkansas’s largest lake, this park offers 40,000 acres of clear water surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest. The campground has 93 campsites with 58 Class AAA full hook-up sites, 23 Class D with no hook-ups, and 12 walk-in tent sites. Some sites are on the water.
Visitors can enjoy swimming, skiing, scuba diving, boating, kayaking, and fishing on the lake. Bream, crappie, catfish, striped bass, and largemouth bass can be caught in open water or in one of the many quiet coves.
A marina with boat and kayak rentals, bait, and supplies is on site. Enjoy exhibits, a gift shop, and interpretive programs such as guided hikes, eagle cruises, and kayak tours at the visitor center.
Nature lovers, photographers, and geologists will enjoy Caddo Bend Trail. Wildflowers, boulder gardens, scenic views, and an observation deck overlooking the lake are some of the attractions on this trail.
Dogwood Trail, which features interpretative signs with unique wildlife, is great for a casual walk through the Ouachita National Forest.
The Mid-America Science Museum is a great place to take the kids if you are looking for an afternoon away from the park or a rainy day trip. As Arkansas’s largest hands-on science center and first Smithsonian Affiliate, this side trip offers more than 100 hands-on exhibits.
The Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater provides educational programming for those interested in space exploration. Teachers and students can view the night sky and tour the solar system using top digital planetarium software.
2. Mississippi River State Park
At the newest of Arkansas State Parks, visitors can enjoy seven nearby bodies of water for fishing, kayaking, and boating, all within the Saint Francis National Forest.
Watching for wildlife and exploring the many hiking trails should certainly be on your list of things to do. Campsites range from primitive to full hook-up sites for larger rigs.
The St. Francis River National Forest, at more than 20,000 acres, is known for its diversity of plant and animal life, and features a variety of hardwoods that makes this area alive with color in the fall.
Crowley’s Ridge and Great River Road Scenic Byway run through the forest. Horner Neck Lake is a popular spot for boating, canoeing, and kayaking.
The nearby L’Anguille River begins in Poinsett County and flows southward in a meandering pattern towards Marianna, where it joins the St. Francis River. It also borders parts of the St. Francis National Forest. Fishing and waterfowl hunting are popular on this river.
Be sure and check out the Arkansas Delta Music Trail: Sounds from the Soil and Soul. The marker honors the old Plantation Inn where many blues musicians got their start. At the time it opened in 1943, the Plantation Inn had the largest dance floor in the south.
3. Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park is the oldest state park in Arkansas. Its natural beauty and historic significance has welcomed travelers for decades.
Petit Jean Mountain inspired the creation of this Arkansas State Park camping area and the state park system. The rustic-style, native log and stone facilities were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933. The CCC also built trails, roads, bridges, cabins, and the Mather Lodge, a 24-room lodge overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon.
Just upstream from Cedar Creek is a CCC rock dam, which formed the 100-acre Lake Bailey. Visitors enjoy fishing, kayaking, and pedal boating. The nearby boathouse offers a snack bar, boat rentals, and supplies. Campsites include 35 Class AAA and 90 Class B. The park also has an airport.
Amenities in the park include two swimming pools, picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, a boat launch, tennis and basketball courts, and an amphitheater. Nearby hiking trails take visitors through forests and meadows, over canyons and along streams. See the 95-foot Cedar Falls, Seven Hollows, Bear Cave, the Grotto, Natural Bridge, and other natural formations. Join an interpreter for programs and special events.
“Stunningly beautiful park, we fell instantly in love with this place and are already planning a return trip when it’s a bit warmer. The sites are spacious, some have great views over the lake, good fire pit and picnic table. The scenery, we couldn’t get down to the falls because the bridge was out after a storm, but we got to see it from the overlooks either side. We did many of the walks to bear cave, along the river to the falls, took the drive to the ridge. So much to do. I’ve seen poor reviews of the lodge dining, both food and staff wise, we had 2 meals there, both were really good, the staff were really friendly, I suppose it may just depend how you treat them!” Nethers195 from RV LIFE Campgrounds
4. Lake Dardanelle State Park
Arkansas State Park camping makes for a truly amazing getaway at Lake Dardanelle State Park. This 34,300-acre reservoir on the Arkansas River has two areas where camping is available.
The main site is in Russellville, where visitors can find the Sport Fishing Weigh-In Pavilion, a fishing pier, boardwalk, trail, and visitor center with five aquariums. It’s also a National Park Service-certified site on the Trail of Tears water route.
Programs and tours are available through park interpreters. There are 57 campsites in the Russellville area of the park with 16 Class AAA (50 amp full hook-up sites), 14 Class AA (30 amp sites with water and sewer), and 27 Class B (water and 30 amp service). There are 18 Class B sites in the Dardanelle area of the park.
Things to do nearby include the Arkansas River Visitor’s Center, Arkansas Candle Factory Outlet, and the Confederate Mothers Memorial Park, to name a few. The Confederate Mothers Memorial Park overlooks Russellville and the Arkansas River. See the monument dedicated to the memory of Mothers of Confederate soldiers. The park is on the National Register of Historic Places and has natural walking trails throughout.
The Ouita Coal Company Trail provides bicyclists with rolling hills along the north side of Lake Dardanelle. Named for a local mining company in the area during the late 1800s, the trail offers beautiful views of the Illinois Bayou section of Lake Dardanelle.
5. Moro Bay State Park
Enjoy fishing year-round in this beautiful Arkansas State Park campground. Dip your pole where Moro Bay and Raymond Lake join the Ouachita River and catch largemouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish, or just relax near the water.
The park has 23 Class AAA campsites, trails, picnic sites, a pavilion, playground, and the Moro Bay Ferry exhibit, including the ferry boat. Take advantage of the nearby marina with boat and slip rentals, gas, and a store.
Moro Bay is located 23 miles from El Dorado and 29 miles southwest of Warren in south central Arkansas.
If you feel the need for speed, check out the million dollar facility for go-kart and stock car racing, or watch stock car races at Warren Speedway.
Newton House Museum is a restored historic home from 1849 furnished with period antiques. It was built before the Civil War and is the only house open to the public in El Dorado. Tours are available by appointment as well as receptions, weddings, dinners, and other special occasions.
6. Bull Shoals – White River State Park
Bull Shoals – White River State Park lies along the shores of both Bull Shoals Lake and the White River. Visit the 15,744 sq. ft. visitor center which sits high above the Bull Shoals Dam. Its state-of-the-art visitor exhibit hall and theater share the history of the area and related fishing stories.
Visitors can utilize any of 113 campsites, 63 Class AAA, 30 Class B, and 20 tent sites. You can use the rig in one of three Rent-An-RV sites.
The riverside marina and store offer boat rentals, bait, tackle, and supplies. This park is the state’s premier place for trout fishing; it also offers great hiking and mountain biking. Interpretive programs include campfire cooking demonstrations, trout fishing workshops, and nature walks.
Visitors can see Mountain Village 1890, a historical re-creation of an Ozark settlement from the 1800s. See the 9 main historic structures brought in from various sites in the Ozark mountain region.
As you tour the village, you will see a historical representation of life in the Ozarks in the late 1800s with tools, furnishings, and farm equipment. The church at Mountain Village 1890 is available for private wedding ceremonies by appointment only. Tours are self-guided. There is also a gift shop, gemstone panning, and guided Bull Shoals Cavern tours available.
7. Withrow Springs State Park
Withrow Springs State Park features 29 Class AAA and 10 walk-in campsites as well as three hiking trails. There are also tennis courts, baseball and softball fields, picnic areas, a pavilion, and a gift shop.
The park serves as a put-in point for the Class 1 stream, War Eagle Creek. You can float from March to mid-June depending on rainfall, and the park is an outfitter and shuttle service for the creek. The park also features the rare and unique Ozark trillium, which grows nearby.
Don’t miss the Ozark Natural Science Center with 8 miles of hiking trails, an event center, and programs that can be scheduled for a group. The center is a unique residential environmental education facility, conference, and retreat center.
The Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge (TCWR) is a unique big cat sanctuary. On 459 acres in the Ozark Mountains, this refuge is home to a variety of exotic and native animals. Enjoy educational daily tours or experience Africa in the Ozarks. Don’t miss the popular annual events like the unique “Art with Altitude” kite festival in March and fun Howl-O-Ween Spooktacular in October.
8. Davidson Historic State Park
There is much to enjoy at Davidson Historic State Park. A newly renovated campground has AAA sites, Class A, and Class D tent sites. Visitors can also enjoy trails, picnic areas, plenty of fishing on the Black River and a fishing lake, as well as pedal boats for rent.
Nearby Davidsonville was once home to Arkansas’s first post office and one of the earliest courthouses. Much of Davidsonville’s existence is evident below ground. Archeological excavations still uncover streets, foundations, and artifacts. The visitor center features a replica 1820s hunter-trapper flatboat, audio tour, and a display of historic finds from the archeological digs.
Don’t miss the Civil War River Walk Memorial Trail with historic markers and themed benches highlighting this walking trail along the Black River at Overlook Park. The markers tell the story of the Civil War in Randolph County. Pocahontas served as headquarters for all Confederate troops west of the Mississippi River.
The Randolph County Heritage Museum, located on the historic Pocahontas Court Square, tells the story of the Randolph County area from its earliest history to present day with permanent and traveling exhibits, special presentations, interactive exhibits, and informational programs. In 1838, portions of what is now Arkansas 166 was the route the Trail of Tears took into Arkansas and across Randolph County.
Find more Arkansas State Park camping spots
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Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Mini Aussie puppy Remi. They are currently wintering in Arizona with plans to continue their travels next summer. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.