The natural beauty of Arkansas is one of the state's claims to fame. Camping is one of the most enjoyable activities people can do in Arkansas. Known as the "Natural State," the lakes, rivers, national and state parks, and forests make Arkansas a camper's paradise. Also, with Arkansas' moderate temperature, you can go camping almost year-round.
Usual camping favorites like swimming, burgers on the grill, s'mores, and ghost stories are already going to be quite a memorable experience for kids. But, what sets Arkansas campgrounds apart are the crystalline lakes, the natural habitats for bears and bald eagles, as well as the unique picturesque splendor of the waterfalls, cliffs, bluffs, and diamond deposits.
The sporting options are also comprehensive: hang gliding, rock climbing, ATV riding, golfing, horseback riding, championship-worthy fishing, and even diamond hunting.
Most Arkansas campsites take reservations so call before you visit. Take a look at the top 23 campsites in the state.
Petit Jean State Park
The natural beauty and ancient geology of legendary Petit Jean Mountain inspired the creation of Arkansas's first state park. Petit Jean State Park is only about an hour and a half from Little Rock.
Petit Jean has 127 individual campsites, including 38 pull-thru sites offering water and electrical hookups, and four bathhouses are shared between them. They have some extensive group facilities, too. Families can rent camping equipment if they do not have their own.
The park is perfect for families with many picnic areas that have tables and grills. There is good fishing, a swimming pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, and paddle boat rentals. You can also find great hiking for any age or fitness level.
Lake Ouachita State Park
Lake Ouachita State Park is vast with 1,106 campsites, 21 recreation areas with 150 picnic sites, 24 boat ramps, 13 swimming beaches, and more than 200 islands.
A good camping spot is Denby Point, which has 67 sites, 59 with electric hookups. This place boasts great fishing of bream, crappie, catfish, stripers, and largemouth bass and views of wildlife from the point. It is located on the southern side of Lake Ouachita.
The lake has 975 miles of coastline with every water sport imaginable.
DeGray Lake Resort State Park
DeGray Lake Resort State Park is Arkansas’s only resort state park. Located near Bismarck, Arkansas, in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains and nestled along the north shore of 13,800-acre DeGray Lake, the park offers 113 campsites with water and electric hookups.
There are campsites on the lake shore, and others are in the woods. You can even rent a permanent tent-like yurt, which has almost everything you need, including electricity.
DeGray is a fishing and water sports paradise. The park includes a golf resort with an 18-hole championship golf course. The area is rich with bird and wildlife, which are all protected within the environment of the park.
The park comes complete with trails for hiking and biking, a full-service marina, and guided tours.
Mount Magazine State Park
Mount Magazine, rising 2,753 feet above sea level, is the highest point in the state. Besides great hikes and even hang gliding opportunities, there are a lot of wildlife watching opportunities in Mount Magazine State Park.
This park is one of the places in the state that is home to black bears. While relatively rare, Mount Magazine has one of the densest populations in Arkansas.
Mount Magazine is located about three hours from Little Rock in Paris. Among its many features are hiking and biking trails, scenic overlooks, ATV adventuring, rock climbing, rappelling, and horseback riding. The amenities include a pavilion, picnic area, and visitor's center.
Buffalo National River Park
The Buffalo National River Park is part of the National Park Service. It has 13 campsites; some are primitive, and others include electrical hookups.
The most popular thing to do on the Buffalo River is a float trip. The river runs for 135 miles along the southern region of the Ozarks. You can rent float equipment along the river as well as fish, hike, swim, and wildlife watching.
The Lost Valley campsite, located between Boxley and Ponca, is a favorite among campers for its views. The trails take you past beautiful waterfalls, a cascading creek, cliffs, a large bluff shelter, a natural bridge, and lots of flora and fauna. The trail ends at a cave. The hike is mostly easy, but the last portion is a bit steep. The area is known for its elk sightings.
Lake Sylvia Recreational Area
The Lake Sylvia Recreational Area is highly recommended as a place for families or scout groups for barbecuing, swim, fishing, or hiking. The views may not be as scenic, and motor boats are not permitted on the lake. But, only an hour away from Little Rock in Perryville, this is an excellent place for a day trip.
This location can be a good starting point for serious backpackers planning to explore the Ouachita trails.
Charlton Recreation Area
The Charlton Recreation Area in Hot Springs is part of the Ouachita National Forest. Charlton is regarded as one of the best campsites in Arkansas. Charlton has 57 sites: 10 sites have electricity, water, and sewer services; 20 have electricity and water; and, 27 others have no utilities.
Charlton has crystal clear waters for swimming, picnic areas, and fishing. It's located along Walnut Creek in the heart of the Ouachita National Forest. There is a native stone dam that forms a swimming area with a grassy beach.
If you like to hike, the campsites are located close to the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail or the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. For bikers, the Womble Trail nearby is a highly regarded biking trail.
Greers Ferry Lake
Greers Ferry Lake recreation area, about two hours from Little Rock, is known for its pristine shoreline and deep crystal clear waters. There are more than 1,200 campsites in the 13 parks that make up the Greers Ferry Lake area.
Camping and hiking facilities are available. The lake has deep, clean water for boating, water skiing, and scuba diving. There are vast stretches of water for sailing and other water sports.
The Greers Ferry Dam spans the Little Red River north of Heber Springs. The lake is stocked with native fish by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates a trout hatchery below the dam.
Choctaw is a favorite campsite for families. It overlooks the lake and has two boat ramps, a swimming area, and 30 picnic sites/grills.
Another site, the Sugar Loaf Mountain recreation area boasts some of the best views you can find.
Maumelle Park is the only public campground in Little Rock. It features a fishing pier, playground, showers, flush toilets, 129 reservable camping spaces with water and electricity, a boat ramp, and a day-use picnic area.
Maumelle Park can be a fun, close-to-home getaway. Its proximity to Little Rock makes it an excellent choice for families from the city who are on a budget or short on time.
The Ozark National Forest
The Ozark National Forest covers 1.2 million acres, mostly in the Ozark mountains of northern Arkansas. You'll find the tallest mountain in the state, Mount Magazine, and an incredible, living underground cave at Blanchard Springs Caverns.
The U.S. Forest Service has developed campgrounds at Gunner Pool, Barkshed, and Blanchard Springs. Campgrounds are typically situated in rugged mountain terrain, designed to blend into the surrounding environment and preserve the lush forest atmosphere.
The North Sylamore Trail and Blanchard Springs Caverns are among the biggest attractions in the area. There are campsites in the Blanchard Springs area. A unique site is the Moccasin Gap Horse Camp, which provides well water for horses and hitching posts.
St. Francis National Forest
The St. Francis National Forest covers 22,600 acres in eastern Arkansas, one of the smallest and most diverse forests in the country. Long Pool recreation area adjacent to Big Piney Creek, offers visitors a variety of recreational opportunities: camping, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, and hiking.
A few campsites overlook the large natural pool of Big Piney Creek. This area provides scenic hiking opportunities. Most of the campground is in a mature pine forest, while some sites are in a hardwood forest. There are eight picnic sites, a picnic pavilion, a canoe launch site, and a change shelter.
Another favorite site near Big Piney Creek is Haw Creek Falls. Haw Creek is a small stream, but you can see some waterfalls, bluffs, and a mature hardwood forest. There are no electrical hookups, water, or many amenities.
Millwood Lake State Park
Millwood Lake State Park features a lake that has 26,000 acres of submerged timber and an average depth of only seven feet, which is excellent for mayflies and fishing. Millwood Lake is the home of some of the best fishing in Arkansas, especially for largemouth and white bass.
Almost three hours from Little Rock, the lake has a popular birdwatch area, known for its eagles.
The Saratoga and White Cliffs recreation areas are popular campsites near the lake. Saratoga is a wooded area. It has a playground, rock fishing pier, and a boat ramp.
White Cliffs is on the east bank of the Little River and is a favorite among anglers.
Devil's Den State Park
Devil's Den State Park might have a spooky name, but it offers one of the most stunning views in Arkansas. Devil's Den is nestled in a valley in the Ozark Mountains renowned for its natural beauty and lush oak-hickory forest.
Devil's Den is perfect for spelunkers with lots of little caverns and coves for you to investigate. There are many hiking trails, an 8-acre lake, and forests for exploration.
There are 143 campsites located in the park: 44 Class AAA, 12 Class B, 13 Class C, 24 Class D (no hookups), and eight hike-in (tent only). At the horse camp, there are 42 sites with water and electric hookups, includes a bathhouse, and access to the horse trails. There is also a group camp area.
The park has a restaurant, store, and swimming pool. Canoe and paddleboat rentals are available.
Richland Creek Recreation Area
Richland Creek Recreation Area, located in Ben Hur about three hours from Little Rock within the Ozark National Forest, offers picturesque views.
This area is located about 10 miles from paved roads and has hiking, swimming, and a view of one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Arkansas.
Burns Park and Riverside Park
Burns Park and Riverside Park located in North Little Rock, have small campsite areas.
The 1,700 acres of Arkansas’s largest urban municipal park offers two 18-hole disc golf courses, an 18-hole tournament golf course, and an 18-hole championship golf course.
Other amenities include a dog park, a baseball complex, a softball complex, Bonzai BMX track, a soccer complex, a tennis center, playgrounds, and camping.
Exploring the park, you can find a pre-Civil War log cabin, a covered bridge, a seasonal amusement park, an archery range, and trails with access to the Arkansas River Trail.
Burns Park offers tent and RV camping. Riverside Park is for RV camping only.
Hot Springs National Park and Gulpha Gorge Campground
The rare natural features of Hot Springs National Park were first protected when Congress declared the area a reservation in 1832, 40 years before Yellowstone landed the title as the nation’s first national park in 1872.
In 1921, Hot Springs Reservation became known as Hot Springs National Park, which is the oldest protected area in the National Park System. People use the thermal hot springs for therapeutic baths, making this area informally known as, "America's Spa."
The hot springs flow from the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain, part of the Ouachita Mountain range. Hot Springs National Park has several campsites at Gulpha Gorge Campground. Each campsite has a picnic table, pedestal grill, and water nearby.
Little Pines Recreation Area
Little Pines Recreation Area offers fishing and picture-perfect scenery in the Ouachita National Forest. It has picnic units, a swimming area with a beach, and a boat ramp. It's located in Waldron, which is about two and a half hours from Little Rock.
Little Pines Recreation Area offers a full-service modern campground with electricity, water, trailer dump station, paved roads, a pavilion, hiking trails, a day use area with a swimming beach, and boat docks.
The recreation area is located on the banks of Lake Hinkle, a 1,000-acre lake, managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, with abundant fishing opportunities for bass, crappie, bream, sunfish, and catfish. Also within the facility is a boat ramp, fishing dock, toilet facilities, and ample parking.
While most facilities are free, there is a nominal fee for the day use area and a modest fee for overnight camping.
Twelve-mile long Lake Greeson is a popular camping spot located about two hours from Little Rock. The crystal clear lake is a favorite for fishing and water sports. Campers can kayak Lake Greeson alone, tandem, or guided.
Anglers can catch stripers, black bass, crappie, bream, catfish, white bass, and smallmouth. This deep lake is stocked with northern pike and walleye. The river above and below the lake is stocked with rainbow trout for winter and spring trout fishing.
Bull Shoals-White River State Park
In north-central Arkansas featuring the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains, Bull Shoals-White River State Park stretches along the riverside and lakeshore where the White River and Bull Shoals Lake join at the Bull Shoals Dam.
Ideal for boaters and fishing, the White River is renowned for trout, namely record-breaking rainbow, and brown trout.
Bull Shoals Dam forms Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas’s largest lake with 45,440 acres of waters stretching along Arkansas's northern border and into southern Missouri.
The park features 105 campsites along the White River. Facilities include picnic areas, standard pavilions, playgrounds, trails, and a boat dock with rentals and supplies.
Lake Dardanelle State Park
Lake Dardanelle is a sprawling 34,300-acre reservoir on the Arkansas River. This lake is frequently in the national spotlight as a premier bass fishing tournament site.
Lake Dardanelle State Park has 83 campsites with restrooms and bathhouses with hot water. You will also find a visitor's center, launch ramps, picnic tables, and pavilions.
Mount Nebo State Park
Mount Nebo State Park is one of two Arkansas state parks (Mount Magazine is the other) that offer launch sites for hang gliding enthusiasts on days with good weather.
Fourteen miles of trails encircle Mount Nebo and take visitors to the awe-inspiring sunrise and sunset points, perfect places to take in the view.
For mountain biking enthusiasts, the 4.5-mile bench trail is a fairly level route along a natural terrace that encircles Mount Nebo. As you ride through the mixed hardwood and pine forest, you'll pass historic springs and Fern Lake. (Note: Mt. Nebo State Park Pool will close on weekdays beginning August 12, 2019.)
Queen Wilhelmina State Park
Queen Wilhelmina State Park has 41 campsites. The park also has hiking, picnic areas, and a plant and wildlife center. It is a family-friendly state park, featuring a "castle in the sky" resort gracing 2,681-foot Rich Mountain, Arkansas's second highest peak.
Accessible year-round, Rich Mountain is one of the state’s top destinations for viewing the changing fall colors.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only diamond-producing volcanic "pipe" open to the public in North America. For a small fee, you can search for diamonds and keep all you find.
Crater of Diamonds has 59 standard campsites. The park offers picnic sites, a cafe, restrooms, laundry, gift shop, and hiking trails.