Arkansas residents and visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding great state parks offering a wide variety of recreational and educational facilities. The vast majority of the Arkansas state parks offer visitors excellent accommodation options in lodges, cabins or campgrounds, while day-use parks usually have good picnic areas and clean restrooms.
1.Bull Shoals - White River State Park
Located below the 45,000 acre lake formed by the damming of the White River, the Bull-Shoals – White River State Park is one of the best parks in Arkansas for water-sport enthusiasts. The park covers over 732 acres along the White River, where it offers unsurpassed fishing as well as many other activities. You are advised to start your tour at the Visitor’s Center where you can climb the observation tour for a great overview of the park. Besides fishing and boating, you can enjoy hiking and biking trails, scenic drives, picnics and camping, either at one of 20 primitive camp sites or at one of over 70 services campsites spread out along the river.
Bull Shoals – White River State Park, 153 Dam Overlook Lane, Bull Shoals, AR 72619, Phone: 870-445-3629
2.Cane Creek State Park
© Jackie DeBusk/stock.adobe.com
Perfectly located at the junction of the Coastal Plain and the Mississippi Delta, the Cane Creek State Park offers visitors the chance to explore an amazing outdoor recreation area. The best way to explore the park is to linger for a few days; you can bring along your tent or RV and enjoy camping under the stars. There is a scenic picnic area with tables and grills for day visitors and activities include walking the 2.5-mile Nature Trail, canoeing or kayaking (guided wild-life watching kayak tours available), cycling the Delta View Trail (rental bikes available on site), fishing or wild-life watching.
Cane Creek State Park, 50 State Park Rd, Star City, AR 71667, Phone: 870-628-4714
3.Cossatot River State Park
The Cossatot River State Park protects one of the most spectacular and rugged river corridors in the country. The remarkable landscape includes beautiful exposed rock formations, deep river gorges, cascading waters and exciting river rapids. The park is very popular with river-rafting enthusiasts who can test their skills along a series of Class III, IV and V rapids, while land lubbers can explore the beautiful landscape on foot along four scenic trails. The longest of these is the 14-mile River Trail which connects several of the river access points. There is an interesting Visitor’s Center where you can pick up trail maps and info and primitive campsites are available close to the river.
Cossatot River State Park, 1980 Highway 278, West Wickes, AR 71973, Phone: 870-385-2201
4.Crater of Diamonds State Park
Why not do something really different on your next family vacation by visiting the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Southwest Arkansas. This intriguing field of diamonds (and other precious stones) covers an area of over 37 acres of ploughed field, where you are invited to enjoy the chance to find your very own diamond. The precious stones were brought to the surface by a volcanic eruption and over 33,000 diamonds have been found by the public. You are advised to start your adventure at the Visitor’s Center where you will learn what to look out for and how to go about bagging your own gems. Other park activities include hiking, fishing and camping.
Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Rd, Murfreesboro, AR 71958, Phone: 870-285-3113
5.Crowley’s Ridge State Park
Crowley’s Ridge State Park is an ideal destination for an action-packed family vacation in northeastern Arkansas. The scenic park was once a campground for Native Americans and now offers outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers the chance to enjoy acres of hardwood forests and two lakes for fishing, boating and swimming. You can rent a modern self-catering cabin or bring along a tent or RV so that you can enjoy a few nights at the Park. Activities include swimming and beach fun on Lake Ponder and boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing on Walcott Lake. In addition there are four and half miles of hiking trails to explore and various ranger-led activities are available in summer.
Crowley Ridge State Park, 2092 Hwy. 168 North, Paragould, AR 72450, Phone: 870-573-6751
6.Daisy State Park
Daisy State Park is located at the northern end of Lake Gleeson, which is renowned for its crystal-clear waters. Surrounded by the scenic Ouachita Mountains, Daisy State Park attracts many outdoor enthusiasts to come and enjoy scenic hiking, boating, cycling and camping. You can hire a Yurt or bring your RV or tent to the campground which offers over 100 campsites, a boat ramp, pavilion and children’s playground. You can try your hand at fishing or kayaking (equipment rentals available) or go on a boat tour of the lake to admire some impressive rock formations not seen from the shore. Other available activities include hiking, scuba diving and water skiing.
Daisy State Park, 103 East Park, Kirby, AR 71950, Phone: 870-698-4437
7.DeGrey Lake Resort State Park
Conveniently located close to Hot Springs and Little Rock, DeGrey Lake Resort State Park nestles along the shore of beautiful DeGrey Lake, offering year-round activities and top-notch accommodation. You can choose from a Lodge room or bring your camping gear to the serviced campground, which also offers three Rent-A-Yurts. Amenities are extensive and include an 18-hole golf course (with pro-shop and driving range), a full-service marina and tennis courts. You will be spoiled for choice with a large number of activities including hiking and biking, guided horse-back riding, kayaking, canoeing and pedal-boating. Lodge guest can also use the swimming pool, hot tub and fitness center.
DeGrey Lake Resort State Park, 2027 State Park Entrance Rd, Bismarck, AR 71929, Phone: 501-865-5810
8.Delta Heritage Trail State Park
© Dmytro Titov/stock.adobe.com
A visit to the Delta Heritage Trail State Park will uncover a 21-mile long state recreational treasure, the Delta Heritage Hiking and Biking Trail, which forms the first section of what is hoped to eventually become an 84-mile long-distance trail. Today’s visitors can spend many happy hours walking or cycling through the Delta, passing a variety of interesting natural habitats including wetlands, forests, river crossings and extensive farmlands, for which the area is famous. There are several trailheads which you can use to access the trail including the Arkansas City Trailhead where you will find picnic grounds, a water fountain and a bicycle repair station.
Delta Heritage Trail State Park, 5539 Highway 49, West Helena, AR 72390, Phone: 870-572-2352
9.Devil’s Den State Park
Nestled in the Lee Creek Valley, Devil’s Den State Park has been beckoning nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts since the 1930’s. The park is home to some of the most stunning Ozark Mountain scenery you are likely to find anywhere, featuring creeks, caves, crevices, a stone dam and amazing overlooks. You can book one of the 17 rustic self-catering cabins or bring your tent, RV (and horse-trailer too) to one of 146 campsites. If you visit during the summer you can enjoy swimming and a variety of water sports – rental equipment available. Other year-round activities include guided hikes and nature walks, junior-ranger programs for the kids and mountain bike and equestrian trails.
Devil’s Den State Park, 11333 West Arkansas Hwy. 74, West Fork, AR 72774, Phone: 479-761-3325
10.Lake Catherine State Park
Surrounded by the forest-clad Ouachita Mountains, Lake Catherine State Park is a beautiful and serene location for a family vacation, located close to Hot Springs in Arkansas. For a great lake-side experience you can rent one of the 20 fully equipped cabins which are dotted along the lake shore, each offering their own pier and boat slip. If you enjoy camping your can bring your gear to one of the beautiful lake-side campsites, many of which offer hook-up. The emphasis at this park is on water activities and your can rent fishing boats, canoes, kayaks and water bikes at the Marina. Children will enjoy the sandy beach and the children’s playground and everyone will enjoy a guided hike or nature walk.
Lake Catherine State Park, 1200 Catherine Park Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913, Phone: 501-844-4176
11.Lake Ouachita State Park
Located in the Ouachita Mountains of west-central Arkansas, Lake Ouachita State Park is an ideal vacation destination for adventure-loving families. The park boasts 93 campsites, many of which offer full hook-up, but if you prefer a little more comfort you can book one of the three-or four-bedroom cabins which are fully equipped for a comfortable vacation. Many visitors come to Lake Ouachita for the fishing, which is known to be most enjoyable – you can rent a boat and buy bait at the Marina. If you are not into fishing you can spend your time hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, picnicking and enjoying guided tours and programs offered by the park interpreters.
Lake Ouachita State Park, 5451 Mountain Pine Rd, Mountain Pine, AR 71956, Phone: 501-767-9366
12.Lake Poinsett State Park
Lake Poinsett State Park is a small park which is mostly used by fishermen, campers and nature lovers. The highlight of the park is Lake Poinsett, which was formed by damming Distress Creek to establish a fishing and recreation area. However, in 2017 it was decided to drain the lake in order to carry out major repairs and to re-establish new fishing habitats. The lake should be back to normal by 2020 but in the meantime visitors can still enjoy camping, hiking and interpretive wildlife programs on offer. The campground has 29 serviced campsites and there is a shady picnic area and a children’s playground.
Lake Poinsett State Park, 5752 State Park Lane, Harrisburg, AR 72432, Phone: 870-578-2064
13.Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park
Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park is a day park and National Historic Landmark which preserves the spot from which all land surveys of property acquired by the Louisiana Purchase were made. A granite monument marks the actual spot which was used for the land surveys and you can learn all about the importance of the Louisiana Purchase from wayside exhibits as you make your way along the elevated boardwalk over the head-water swamp. Besides learning about history, nature lovers will enjoy spotting a variety of animals, birds and endemic plants. As this is a day-use park camping is not allowed but restrooms are available.
Louisiana Purchase State Park, AR Hwy 362, Brinkley, AR 72049
14.Millwood Lake State Park
Famous all over the state for offering superb bass (and other) fishing, Millwood Lake is home to the Millwood State Park near Ashdown. The lake has several boat lanes which lead fishermen through some of the best fishing areas in Arkansas and the park hosts regular bass-fishing competitions. If you don’t like fishing you can explore the beautiful lake by flat-bottomed boat, canoe or pedal-boat, all of which are available to rent at the marina, or take a walk/hike along the 4-mile Wildlife Lane. Campers can bring their RVs or tents to one of 45 serviced campsites nestled on the forested lake shore. Millwood Lake State Park is also a Designated Important Bird area, so bird-watchers should have a great time.
Millwood Lake State Park, 1564 Hwy. 32 East, Ashdown, AR 71822, Phone: 870-898-2800
15.Parkin Archaeological State Park
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The Parkin Archaeological State Park was established to protect and showcase a remarkable 17-acre site which was occupied for over five hundred years by Native Americans as far back as AD 1000. The site provides essential insight into the history and culture of Arkansas and makes for an interesting family day out. It would be best to start your tour at the Visitor’s Center where you can watch a twelve-minute orientation video before setting off on the three-quarter mile Village Trail to see what remains of this fascinating civilization. You can look forward to viewing the Parkin Mound, thought to have been the site of the chief’s home, and parts of the surrounding moat. There are restrooms and a picnic area and a boat ramp to the Francis River.
Parkin Archaeological State Park, 60 Highway 184 N, Parkin, AR 72373, Phone: 870-755-2500
16.Petit Jean State Park
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Nestled between the scenic Ozark and Ouachita Mountains in west-central Arkansas, the Petit Jean State Park covers 2,658 acres on Petit Jean Mountain. The scenery is dramatic – expect to see large swaths of untouched forest, ravines, springs and waterfalls which are still as pristine as when they were discovered by French explorers around 300 years ago. You can spend a few days exploring the park from your base in the Campground, which offers 125 camp sites, or book a comfortable cabin. Activities in the park include hiking along a network of over 20 miles of trails, fishing on Lake Bailey, tennis, soft-ball, pedal-boats and wildlife watching.
Petit Jean State Park, 1285 Petit Jean Mountain Rd, Morrilton, AR 72110, Phone: 501-727-5441
17.Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Located just west of Hot Springs, Pinnacle Mountain State Park protects over 2,000 acres of diverse natural habitats and the plants and animals which call them home. Although Pinnacle Mountain State Park is a day-use only park (no camping allowed) it offers visitors a great day out surrounded by beautiful scenery. Hikers and bikers can spend hours enjoying the network of trails which meander through the park and up to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain, while water-sport enthusiasts can launch their kayaks, canoes or fishing boats on the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers. The park offers regular events including guided river floats, lake cruises and bird counts.
Pinnacle Mountain State Park, 11901 Pinnacle Valley Rd, Little Rock, AR 72223, Phone: 501-868-5806
18.Poison Springs Battleground State Park
This quiet and serene state park was established to commemorate an important Civil War battle which took place there in 1864. If you enjoy history or would just like to go for a pleasant short hike along a little-used trail, this is a good park to visit. The Poison Springs Battle was part of the Union Army’s Red River Campaign, which you can learn about from several interpretive exhibits alongside the pleasant picnic area. It is a sobering thought that nearly 400 men lost their lives here. The trail through the park leads through a forested area to a natural spring, offering a pleasant short hike (not suitable for wheelchairs or buggies).
Poison Spring Battleground State Park, Ark Highway 76, Camden, AR 71722
19.Powhatan Historic State Park
© Friends of Powhatan Historic State Park
The Powhatan Historic State Park is unique in that it preserves and protects no less than six historic buildings dating back to the 1880’s. The park is located on a hill overlooking the Black River, where the impressive 1888 courthouse proudly overlooked the steamboat traffic, about which you can learn in the Courthouse Museum. Other historic buildings in the park include the 1873 Jail house, a residential log house, a telephone exchange and a two-room school house. You are welcome to explore the park in your own time but joining a guided tour will be much more rewarding. The park is open from Tuesday to Sunday and entrance is free of charge.
Powhatan Historic State Park, 4414 Hwy 25, Powhatan, AR 72458, Phone: 870-878-6765
20.Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park
Widely acknowledged to be one of the most intact Civil War sites, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park commemorates the famous Battle of Prairie Grove in 1863, when opposing Union and Confederate forces staged a fearsome clash which resulted in over 2,700 casualties. The large park covers over 900 acres and can be explored by car, using an audio guide. If you prefer you can join a guided Walking Tour along the one-mile Battlefield Trail, which will show you the areas where the fiercest fighting took place, close to the Borden House. There are also guided tours through the historic Morrow and Latta Houses. To fully appreciate the scale of the battle you can attend a re-enactment, which occurs on the first weekend of December every even-numbered year.
Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, 506 East Douglas St, Prairie Grove, AR 72753, Phone: 479-846-2990
21.Queen Wilhelmina State Park
Reached via the Talimena National Scenic Byway, the Queen Wilhelmina State Park on Rich Mountain offers breathtaking mountain scenery and a wonderful outdoor playground for adventurers and nature lovers. There is a beautiful lodge and a serviced campground where you can stay for a few days while you explore this park on foot or by bike. From the park you can access the Ouachita National Hiking Trail or three other shorter trails through the beautiful landscape. The park offers a selection of activities led by park interpreters including guided hikes, evening programs in the amphitheater, nature talks and various other seasonal events. Children will love the playground, miniature train and mini-golf.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park, 3877 Highway 88 West, Mena, AR 71953, Phone: 479-394-2863
22.South Arkansas Arboretum
A must-see attraction for any nature lover visiting southern Arkansas, the South Arkansas Arboretum covers twelve wooded acres where you can admire a wide variety of plants native to the region. You can explore the park along a two-mile paved foot path which will lead you through the three distinct sections of the park. Near the entrance you will find the Active Use area which boasts a Butterfly Garden and other beautiful plantings along with restrooms and a pavilion. As you leave the Active Use area you will find ponds and creeks together with more natural plantings in the Transitional Area and then you will enter the Natural Area where native plants are given free rein to grow as they wish.
South Arkansas Arboretum, 1506 Mt Holly Rd, El Dorado, AR 71730, Phone: 870-862-8131
23.Ozark Folk Center State Park
Located in Mountain View, the Ozark Folk Center State Park protects and showcases the culture, crafts and music of the Ozark region. When you visit the park (open from mid-April to mid-November) you will be able to admire the dexterity of artisans at work, take a walk through the Heritage Herb Garden and, best of all, listen to live Southern mountain music. The Craft Village is home to 20 artisan crafters who demonstrate and sell their unique crafts from Tuesday to Saturday. If you are interested in healing herbs you can attend a workshop in the Heritage Herb Garden and attending a live Ozark Mountain Music concert (Thursday and Saturday nights) is obligatory. The park also boasts a challenging ropes and zip-line course and overnight cabins.
Ozark Folk Center State Park, 1032 Park Ave, Mountain View, AR 72560, Phone: 870-269-3851
24.Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park
Located in the heart of central Arkansas farmlands, the Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park protects the remains of ancient earthworks which are known as the Toltec Mounds. The mounds are all that if left of an ancient Native American village where people built permanent sturdy homes and practiced farming, hunting and fishing between 650 and 1050 AD. You can get a good overview of the park at the Visitor’s Center and pick up maps for the two self-guided walking trails. The Visitor’s Center is also where you will find restrooms, interpretive exhibits and a gift shop. Access to the Visitor’s Center and the self-guided tours is free of charge.
Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park, 490 Toltec Mounds Rd, Scott, AR 72142, Phone: 501-961-9442
25.Village Creek State Park
Encompassing almost 7,000 acres of beautiful forests and crystal-clear streams just 40 miles from Memphis, the Village Creek State Park offers a year-round playground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. You can camp at one of 96 services campsites or book one of the comfortable cabins which sleep up to six guests. You will never have a dull moment at Village Creek – a long list of activities is available to guests including first-class golfing on a full 18-hole course. If you enjoy water sports you can go swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking and pedal-boating on Lake Dunn or Lake Austell, while hikers have several scenic trails to explore – some of these are also suitable for equestrians and mountain bikers.
Village Creek State Park, 201 County Road 754, Wynne, AR 72396, Phone: +870-238-9406
25 Best Arkansas State & National Parks
- Bull Shoals - White River State Park, Photo: jayzynism/stock.adobe.com
- Cane Creek State Park, Photo: Jackie DeBusk/stock.adobe.com
- Cossatot River State Park, Photo: rostovdriver/stock.adobe.com
- Crater of Diamonds State Park, Photo: bonniemarie/stock.adobe.com
- Crowley’s Ridge State Park, Photo: maria_lh/stock.adobe.com
- Daisy State Park, Photo: Voyagerix/stock.adobe.com
- DeGrey Lake Resort State Park, Photo: Kristina/stock.adobe.com
- Delta Heritage Trail State Park, Photo: Dmytro Titov/stock.adobe.com
- Devil’s Den State Park, Photo: bonniemarie/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Catherine State Park, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Ouachita State Park, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Poinsett State Park, Photo: andrea/stock.adobe.com
- Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park, Photo: fredlyfish4/stock.adobe.com
- Millwood Lake State Park, Photo: smiltena/stock.adobe.com
- Parkin Archaeological State Park, Photo: Alex Koch/stock.adobe.com
- Petit Jean State Park, Photo: luis sandoval/stock.adobe.com
- Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Photo: DavidMSchrader/stock.adobe.com
- Poison Springs Battleground State Park, Photo: timonko/stock.adobe.com
- Powhatan Historic State Park, Photo: Friends of Powhatan Historic State Park
- Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, Photo: saje/stock.adobe.com
- Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Photo: leekris/stock.adobe.com
- South Arkansas Arboretum, Photo: Maksud/stock.adobe.com
- Ozark Folk Center State Park, Photo: 1xpert/stock.adobe.com
- Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park, Photo: lkordela/stock.adobe.com
- Village Creek State Park, Photo: Joseph/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Mitch/stock.adobe.com