Before about 1970, this part of the Texas North Central Plains was basically, well, the North Central Plains. But then along came Lake Arrowhead, and that changed everything. The reservoir provides pretty much all the drinking water for Wichita Falls and offers recreational opportunities for thousands of visitors every year. Its natural landscape of rolling hills and plains, covered with native grasses and dotted with cactus and mesquite trees, makes a beautiful backdrop for the clear blue waters of Lake Arrowhead. Although known for its Prairie Dog Town, visitors will likely also see an abundance of bird species, including waterfowl and popular insects like dragonflies within the park.
Lake Arrowhead is huge. It covers some 16,000 acres and has over 100 miles of shoreline. Much of it is completely unspoiled. Lake Arrowhead State Park is one of eight park areas around this vast lake and has the most recreational opportunities of all. With all that water, you know you won't get bored visiting this park. Boating, paddling, fishing, and swimming are the main reasons campers visit this park season after season. But with five miles of trails for hiking and biking, outdoor enthusiasts can do much more than visit the lake.
Horseback riding is allowed on many trails and in the backcountry. Gorgeous trailheads, mesquite trees, and pristine blue waters create a serene landscape for relaxation as well. Photographers and wildlife lovers will also enjoy the many opportunities to see a variety of mammal and bird species in the park. Interpretive hikes and educational outings, including a Ranger Program, will make this RV vacation a learning experience as well as a fun-filled escape. Try disc golf or geocaching while in the park too. There's so much to do at Lake Arrowhead State Park, you'll want to make this a repeat destination for your camping adventures.
If you plan to visit Lake Arrowhead State Park, an RV is definitely the way to go. This park has over 65 RV sites, and many of them are almost literally right on the water. The RV campground is very close to the fishing piers, swimming area, trailheads, boat launch, and pretty much everything else there is to do at Lake Arrowhead State Park, so pack up the motorhome and set out for your RV excursion today.
Lake Arrowhead State Park is not far from Highway 287, which is the main drag between Fort Worth and Wichita Falls. Highway 287 is a mostly straight four-lane divided highway with excellent visibility and almost no hills. If you come north from Fort Worth, you’ll go through Decatur, Bowie, and several other picturesque towns. If you come south from Wichita Falls, you’ll barely get out of town before you need to exit.
Lake Arrowhead is a get-away-from-it-all spot that’s a bit isolated. RVers can take the direct route from Jolly or the scenic route from Henrietta, where the road hugs the edge of the lake, making for great views along the way.
When you get to the park, there’s a huge parking area near the main boat launch and swimming area. Additional parking is available near the disc golf course and Prairie Dog Town.
Nearby Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Native American museums, and Fort Sill Army Base is the family-friendly campground of Burkburnett/Wichita Falls KOA in Burkburnett, Texas. Featuring a unique saltwater swimming pool with a slide, a playground for the kids, and bike rentals for the whole family, this could be one of your favorite retreat spaces. Shaded sites are available, as well as Wi-Fi and cable. Bring your pup, and watch them have fun in the dog park. Horseshoes, tetherball and other fun games for kids of all ages are also available. The camp store has basic groceries and camping supplies, so you’ll be all set for your vacation.
The four-site equestrian campground is away from the lake near the disc golf course. It’s a bit more remote than the other RV sites and also a bit more spacious. Additionally, each site has a 50-amp electrical and water hookups, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Campfires gives these sites a real Old West feel, especially since each campsite has a horse tie rail like the ones Roy Rogers used. There’s also a corral and a sheltered horse stall.
For those who want to be closer to the action, Lake Arrowhead State Park offers this 19-site campground along a stretch of shoreline from Prairie Dog Town to the spillway. Several sites, most notably #59, have really nice views of the lake. The swimming, fishing, and boating areas are all within easy walking distance. Each site has a water hookup and has some shade, making it ideal for kicking back and relaxing. These sites are pet friendly as long as you keep your furry friend on a leash. No electricity is available at this campground, but the sites will hold rigs up to 53 feet in length. These sites include fire rings with grills and covered picnic tables. Restrooms, showers, and a dump station is nearby.
This campground can accommodate large RVs and trailers and has both 50-amp electric service and water hookups. Some of these paved sites can host a 45-foot RV while others can take a rig of 117 feet in length and everything in-between. These sites are pet-friendly and up to eight people and three vehicles are allowed. Tent camping is also permitted on these sites. Some sites are pull-through and others are back-in.
Each site includes a fire ring with a grill and a picnic table, some with a shelter. Each one of these spots should have at least some shade. A park road separates the campground from the lake and lake facilities, so the campground is rather quiet as well. A large restroom/shower area is in the center of the campground, and a large RV dump station is a short walk from that area.
Lake Arrowhead State Park has five walk-in, tent-only primitive sites within walking distance of the lake. These primitive sites can host up to eight people with two vehicles and are pet friendly. A fire ring with a grill is included with each site. Campers are within 800 feet of restrooms, water fountains, and showers. These partially shaded sites are adjacent to the Onion Creek walking trail.
Although reservations are highly encouraged, in the event that there are unreserved sites when you arrive, you may be able to rent them on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are three hiking trails in the park’s interior. The four-mile Onion Creek Trail is an easy, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trail. It covers some changing landscapes and is a good place to view wildflowers in the early spring. The half-mile Mesquite Ridge Trail is a bit more difficult, probably because it includes a ridge and mesquite trees. The half-mile Dragonfly Trail is a wheelchair- and stroller-friendly trail which includes lots of information about local landscape and wildlife. The disc golf course is located just off this trail. The trails are a great place to capture some stunning photographs of the landscape.
The northern part of the park near the spillway is a little higher than the lakeside portions, making it a good place to see birds. In the fall and winter, look for geese, ducks, northern shovelers, American wigeons, doves, roadrunners, and snipes. Further inland, there are a number of woodpeckers, owls, hawks, mockingbirds, wrens, bluebirds, and other types of flying animals. You can print out a list of birds, that are in the area during the season in which you visit the park, to check off which ones you encounter. Bring your binoculars along for a better view.
These little critters are reasonably tame and irresistibly cute. If you come at the right time, mostly in the early fall, you may also see lots of prairie dog pups. These little critters are even cuter than the grown-ups. Watch your step as you walk. They call this area Prairie Dog Town for a reason. Their holes are all over the place, even near the walking paths and restrooms. Guided ranger tours are available. Please don’t feed them (the prairie dogs, not the park rangers).
In addition to housing an equestrian campground, horse lovers will be glad to know that Arrowhead Lake State Park offers almost 300 acres of horse-friendly trails to its visitors. Since the park is in the plains, the trails are flat and easy to navigate on horseback even for novice riders. Be aware that you'll be sharing the road with cyclists and hikers, so make sure your horse isn't the type to be easily spooked. Give others on the trail a wide berth, and keep an eye out for snakes as well. After a beautiful day on the trails, you can corral your horse in the equestrian campground that provides covered stalls and an RV pad with 50-amp electric hookups, so you can be near your four-legged friend.
The swimming area has a very nice beach which includes multiple sheltered picnic areas and a children’s play area. Or, you can go across the small bay to a more isolated shore that’s basically a combination of sand and rocks. The water gets a bit deeper and a bit faster on that side of the swimming area, so brave souls may try the small cliffs. Be very careful, however, as there is no lifeguard on duty. But as mentioned, the swimming area is a no-boat zone. Stay inside the boat launch and swim with a buddy, and you should be fine.
The swimming areas are off-limits to all watercraft and the water right around the boat launch is a no-wake area. Other than that, let ‘er rip. Lake Arrowhead is pretty close to a Great Lake-size body of water. This park is remote enough so that it is never terribly crowded, even on Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, and other summer weekends or holidays. If unpowered boats, like canoes or kayaks, are your thing, there’s plenty of room for them as well. Stay close to the shoreline, and you should have the run of the lake. The spillway is a nice place to paddle. The water is extra-calm and the oil derricks are rather cool.
All three prongs of the Texas Trio (bass, crappie, and catfish) bite very well at Lake Arrowhead State Park. Springtime crappie fishing is especially busy, particularly in the southern part of the lake. Stay in the shallow areas or fish from the oil derricks. The catfish are huge. Fish up to 40 pounds are not uncommon; the lake record is 75 pounds. Some anglers have teenagers who aren’t that big.
If bass are your thing, concentrate on shallow water near submerged vegetation, bridges or the dam, especially during the summer. No license is required if you fish from shore. If you forgot to add fishing gear to your rig, loaners are available at park headquarters. There are two large fishing piers and two fish cleaning areas. Take your catch back to camp for an old-fashioned fish fry!
Lake Arrowhead State Park offers a 4,800-foot disc golf course for campers and day visitors for a small fee. Disc golf is similar to golf, but uses a disc and natural terrain without disturbing the environment to play. This course has 18 holes and about 300 feet between holes, so you can get out of the Airstream and get some exercise. This course has lots of challenging obstacles, making the game for fun, but be careful of some of the more painful obstacles like cactus, sticker bushes, and prairie dog holes. Lake Arrowhead State Park has even hosted some professional disc golf championships. Come and see how you compare to the champs.