Arkansas State Parks
The 52 state parks in Arkansas are diverse in the beauty and recreational opportunities offered for all who visit! There are rocky mountains, beautiful wetlands, crystal clear lakes and streams, and serene hollows. State parks have no entry fees, offer beautiful overnight facilities and accommodations, including magnificent lodges, quaint cabins, and a variety of campsites, historic battlefields, museums, and visitor centers. The Natural State is unparalleled in its beauty—and the state parks are representative of all that Arkansas has to offer.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 911-acre state park located in Pike County, Arkansas. The unique park features a 37.5-acre plowed field on which visitors can hunt for diamonds and other semi-precious gems. On average, two diamonds are found per day by park visitors. Since1906, diamonds have continuously been discovered in the field, including the 8.66 Illusion Diamond (found in 2011), the 8.52 carat Esparanza Diamond (found in 2015), the 15.33 carat Star of Arkansas Diamond (found in 1956), and the 40.23 carat Uncle Sam Diamond (found in 1924).
The park has a visitor center that contains detailed and fascinating information about the geology of the park. There is also a gift shop and a cafe. Interested visitors can continue to the Diamond Discovery Center which offers an interpretive look at prospecting for diamonds. The Diamond Springs aquatic playground, enclosed pavilion, trails, and picnic areas surround the diamond field. The park offers campers 47 Class AAA facilities near the Little Missouri River.
209 State Park Rd, Murfreesboro, AR 71958, 870-285-3113
Cossatot River State Park – white water
The Cossatot River features Class III, IV, and dangerous Class V rapids making it one of the more challenging float rivers in the central United States. Brushy Creek Recreation Area offers restrooms, picnic tables, and access to the river via the Highway 246 bridge access point. Campsites are available at the Cossatot Falls Area (7 sites, no hookups), Sandbar Area (14 sites, no hookups), and the Ed Banks Area.
The park is also home to dozens of rare flora and fauna native only to the Ouachita Mountains and surrounding Ouachita National Forest. The terrain of the park is a rugged rocky canyon with old growth hardwoods and juniper glades. Hiking is available on the River Corridor Trail (14 miles) and Harris Creek Trail (3.5 miles). A visitor’s center built in 2004 offers a wildlife observation room, a water education laboratory, and a gift shop.
DeGray Lake Resort Park
Near Hot Springs and Little Rock, this resort state park is located on the shores of beautiful DeGray Lake. Visitors enjoy first class lodging and amenities as well as outdoor adventure and fun throughout the year. DeGray Lake Resort has a 96-room lodge that offers spectacular views of Lake DeGray. The lodge includes a heated swimming pool, indoor hot tub, fitness room, and the lodge’s Shoreline Restaurant boasts a full menu and banquet catering services.
Additional lodging options include 81 Class B campsites, three Rent-A-Yurts, and an 18-hole championship golf course with driving range, practice green, and pro-shop. The full-service marina has bait and tackle, fuel, and boat rentals that include party barges, kayaks, and pedal boats.
There is also disc golf, swimming, tennis, hiking trails, guided horseback riding, and world class mountain hiking trails nearby. Swimming beaches, pavilions, bicycle rentals, and an amphitheater add to the luxury of this scenic resort park.
2027 State Park Entrance Road, Bismarck, AR 71929, 501-865-5850
Lake Catherine State Park
This beautiful and peaceful park is located on Lake Catherine, one of five lakes in the beautiful Ouachita Mountain region. There is a full-service marina that is open in the summertime for bait, snacks/drinks, and fuel. Boat rentals are available year-round. The park also includes a launch ramp, pavilion, picnic sites, playgrounds, and a well-marked trail that leads to a scenic waterfall.
There are many native stone and wood buildings on-site—the history of these structures dates back to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. The park has 20 fully equipped cabins, including one two-bedroom cabin with a patio overlooking the water and private access to the lake from its own fishing pier. The park offers 70 campsites (47 Class AAA and 23 Class B), six primitive tent sites, one Rent-A-Camp, and one Rent-A-Yurt. Park interpreters offer hikes, lake tours, and programs year-round. Additionally, guided horseback rides are offered seasonally.
1200 Catherine Park Road, Hot Springs, AR 71913, 501-844-4176
Lake Ouachita State Park
The Natural State’s largest lake, Lake Ouachita, contains 40,000 acres of clear, clean water surrounded by the scenic and majestic Ouachita National Forest. Visitors to Lake Ouachita State Park enjoy swimming, skiing, scuba diving, boating, and kayaking. Truly a fisherman’s paradise, bream, crappie, catfish, striped bass, and largemouth bass can be caught in open waters or serene coves.
Lake Ouachita State Park offers a variety of day-use areas and overnight accommodations. The park has 93 campsites (53 Class AAA, 23 Class D), and 12 walk-in tent sites. There are eight fully equipped cabins with kitchens, and most of them overlook the lake. Additionally, there are four camper cabins located on the campground which include one room sleeping for four, heat/air, a screened porch, and a picnic table with grill. There is a family-style bathhouse nearby that is one large private room with a shower, sink, and toilet that is perfect for families with small children. The Caddo Bend Trail and Historic Three Sisters’ Springs are also in the park.
5451 Mountain Pine Road, Mountain Pine, AR 71956, 501-767-9366
Mount Magazine State Park
At 2,753-feet, Mount Magazine is Arkansas’s highest mountain, rising dramatically above the broad valleys of the Petit Jean River to the south and the Arkansas River to its north. Graced with timeless natural beauty, and rich in natural resources including rare and endangered species, Mount Magazine has long lured explorers, adventurers, scientists, naturalists, and vacationers.
Visitors come for the spectacular views alone, but there is much more to see and do at this unique park. Mount Magazine State Park is an ideal oasis for relaxation and nature study. It is also perfect for exploration, and it is recognized for outdoor sports and extreme adventures with mountain biking, horseback riding, back-packing, and ATV riding. Mount Magazine is also the state park system’s most dramatic location for technical rock climbing, and it is also one of only two parks to offer hang gliding launch areas.
Scenic overlooks, hiking trails, picnic area, pavilion and a visitor center with gift shop add to the amenities of the mountain’s natural beauty and overall appeal.
Ouachita National Forest
Established in 1907, Ouachita National Forest is the South’s oldest and one of the largest national forests. The Ouachita National Forest covers 1.8 million acres in central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. Headquartered in Hot Springs, the vast and magnificent forest is managed for timber and wood production. It is a large habitat for wildlife and fish species including those threatened and endangered ones.
The Forest has over a dozen recreation areas including Albert Pike, Shady Lake, and Charlton that offer campsites, fishing areas, picnic sites, and hiking trails. Visitors also enjoy swimming, hunting, fishing, mountain bike trails, all-terrain vehicle trails, and equestrian trails. The Ouachita National Forest offers a variety of camping opportunities—cabin rentals, RV camping, group camping, and campground camping.
Hot Springs, AR 71902, 501-321-5201
Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park is named for the legend of Petit Jean, a French girl who disguised herself as a boy and secretly accompanied her sweetheart, an early explorer, to the New World and to this mountain. Scenic hiking trails wind their way through forests and meadows, overlooking canyons and streams amid the mountainside. The spectacular 95-foot Cedar Falls, Seven Hollows, and distinctive features like the Bear Cave, the Grotto, and the Natural Bridge, add to the beauty and unique qualities of the park.
There are more than 20 hiking trails in Arkansas that will lead you through Petit Jean’s natural and historic resources. The Park reflects the image of the mountain’s rugged beauty, and it offers rustic-style, log and stone facilities. A focal point of the park, the historic 24-room Mather Lodge, has a restaurant, meeting rooms, and a gift shop. Other lodging options include 125 park campsites, a group camp area, and four Rent-A-Yurts. There are two swimming pools, picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, a boat launch ramp, tennis and basketball courts, an amphitheater on site, and the park also has an airport.
1285 Petit Jean Mountain Road, Morrilton, AR 72110, 501-727-5441
Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Located just west of Little Rock, Pinnacle Mountain is a day-use park that offers a variety of adventure on the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers. Inside the wonder and beauty of the Arkansas Arboretum, along 15+ miles of trails, including 7 miles of challenging mountain bike trails. There are also easy trails. Both the Arkansas Arboretum Trail and the Kingfisher Trail are great for family walks and leashed dogs are welcome too!
Visitors can hike to the top, explore the rivers, or take in one of the numerous interpretive programs offered by park staff. Pinnacle Mountain is the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful and scenic picnic, or to host a larger gathering in one of the pavilions that are available to reserve.
11901 Pinnacle Valley Road, Little Rock, AR 72223, 501-868-5806
George & Brenda Langley
RE/MAX of Hot Springs Village