Lake Catherine State Park | Outdoorsy

Lake Catherine State Park
Guide

Introduction

If you are looking for a great fishing spot during your trip to Arkansas, Lake Catherine is the perfect place. But this 1,940-acre lake is not just for fishing. You can kayak or canoe with stunning views of forests and waterfalls. You can also swim in the peaceful and tranquil waters as you take in the beauty of the Ouachita Mountains.

Lake Catherine State Park offers 2,240 acres of untamed wilderness just waiting to be explored. You can hike or horseback ride on one of the four trails at the park. Stroll right next to an enchanting waterfall on the Falls Branch Trail, or enjoy a fun-filled day of swimming and splashing in the waters of the swimming beach. Relax with a picnic in the serenity of nature with the convenience of picnic tables and grills. This tranquil state park is teeming with native wildlife from white-tailed deer to waterfowl.

This serene state park has been a hotspot for campers since 1935 when it was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. If you’re a history buff you can park your rig at the nature cabin, which features exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the park. Throughout the year, the park offers ranger programs from guided hikes to scenic lake cruises. If you plan your RV trip to Lake Catherine State Park in the summer months, you’ll enjoy sunny days in the 80s and 90s. The park is a great place to visit any time of year, though, since the winter usually only cools to the 40s or 50s.

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Camping Accommodations

60'
Max RV length
60'
Max trailer Length
Electrical hookup
Water hookup
Generator use
Food storage
Sewer hookup
Dogs & cats

RV Rentals in Lake Catherine State Park

Transportation

Driving

Lake Catherine State Park is easy to access off of Interstate 30, US-70, US-270, AR-290, or AR-171, depending on which way you are coming from. Local roads provide access to all the major attractions in Lake Catherine State Park, including the Nature Cabin, Visitor Center, Picnic Area, Marina, trailheads, and campgrounds. There are no driving restrictions on RVs or trailers inside the park.

Lake Catherine State Park is located close to Malvern and Hot Springs, in Hot Spring County. Hot Springs National Park is less than 30 miles to the northwest where you can check out the park’s unique feature, the Hot Springs. You can also take a hike through the forested mountains, visit the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, or taste some local brew at the Superior Bathhouse Brewery.

Parking

Parking is available throughout Lake Catherine State Park including at the Visitor Center, Picnic Area, and Marina. If you are staying overnight, you can park your rig at the campsites. The park gets busy during the summer months so parking for RVs and trailers may fill up quickly.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Lake Catherine State Park

Campsites in Lake Catherine State Park

Reservations camping

Rent-A-Yurt

Another interesting way to stay at the park is to rent a yurt. If you have never stayed in a yurt, you are not alone. Many people do not even know what a yurt is. YURT is an acronym for Year-Round Universal Recreational Tent, and it's basically a large round tent that offers a unique camping experience.

The yurts contain bunk beds that can accommodate up to six people. There is also a cooler for your food and drinks, camp stove to cook on, lanterns, and a campfire ring for making s’mores and telling campfire stories outside. The park even provides a table, chairs, and a wood floor so it almost feels like home. All you have to bring is food and personal amenities. Reservations can be made up to 12 months in advance, but pets are not allowed so leave your pooch at home.

Rent-A-Camp

If you don’t want to lug all your camping gear in your trailer but want a change of pace, you can actually rent a camp at Lake Catherine State Park! The Rent-A-Camp includes a nine-foot by 12-foot tent with a nice smooth wooden floor to keep you warm (or cool) and off the ground while you sleep. You will also have a grill for campfires, a camp stove to cook on, and other camping gear like a lantern and cooler. It provides electrical hookups too. All you have to bring is your food, drinks, and sleeping items like blankets or sleeping bags. Sorry, no pets are allowed. You can make your reservations up to a year in advance, and you should reserve your spot as early as possible since there is only one available.

Lake Catherine State Park Campground

The Lake Catherine State Park Campground offers 70 sites for tents and RVs that are divided into Camp A, B, and C. Of these campsites, 47 are Class AAA with sewer, water, and 50-amp electric, and the other 23 are Class B with water and 30-amp electric hookups. With utilities, you can cook inside or you can cook outside on the campfire ring provided by the park. There is also a large picnic table so you and the family can sit and eat together. No need to try and balance your food on your lap in a camp chair.

Some campsites are on the lakeside, offering convenient access for boating and fishing, while others offer shady sites in the forest Amenities include modern restrooms, hot showers, picnic tables, a dump station, and water spigots. The kids will enjoy the nearby playground as well. Campsites may be reserved up to one year in advance. Parking pad lengths may vary, but some are up to 60 feet in length. Pets are welcome and reservations are needed, which can be made up to 12 months in advance.

Alternate camping

Private Campgrounds

If you’d rather stay off-site, there are plenty of private campgrounds and RV parks in the area. You can stay in nearby Hot Springs or Malvern. This is a nice option if you are looking for modern amenities, which may include wireless internet, cable TV, and swimming pools.

Cabins

If you prefer more luxurious accommodations, you can park your rig nearby and stay in one of the park’s 20 fully equipped cabins. These cabins are located among beautiful pines and hardwoods along the lake. Cabins one through five are single rustic cabins along the lake nearest the campground. Six through nine are fourplexes and 10 through 20 are duplexes. You will be close to the playground so the kiddos can enjoy some fun right nearby.

Besides their scenic views, the cabins all provide heating, air conditioning, and housekeeping. Most of the units provide a fireplace to keep you warm during the winter. The largest cabin is ADA-accessible and features a screen porch, patio, a private pier, and boat slip. Five of the cabins allow pets as well so even your furbaby can enjoy getting toasty in front of the fireplace. Reservations are needed and can be made up to a year in advance.

Seasonal activities in Lake Catherine State Park

In-Season

Swimming

Don’t forget to pack your swimming suits and sunscreen in the RV before heading to the park. Lake Catherine offers one of the most beautiful settings for swimming in all of Arkansas. You can swim and splash in the water at the swimming beach while enjoying marvelous views of forests and sunsets across the Ouachita Mountains. Once you’re done swimming, enjoy a relaxing picnic or let the kids play on the playground nearby. Everyone can have fun at Lake Catherine.

Hiking

You can choose from four beautiful trails to hike on during your RV trip to Lake Catherine. Three of the trails will take you through the mountains and past the beautiful Falls Creek Falls, which is the park’s most picturesque waterfall. If you are looking for a longer route, try the Dam Mountain Trail, where you can look out across the majestic Remmel Dam. The Slunger Creek Nature Trail is the park’s newest trail, where you can sit on benches along the route and listen to the water cascading down the rocks of the Ouachita Mountain Creek.

Horseback Riding

If you are interested in going horseback riding during your RV trip, you can ride along the trails next to the scenic Lake Catherine. During the summer months, you can take a guided horseback ride where you can ride past Falls Creek Falls and spot wildlife in the forests of the mountains. Horseback riding is an exciting way to experience the beauty of nature at this incredible state park. Bring your camera as you can get some amazing shots from up atop your horse as you meander along the trail.

Fishing

Whether you want to fish from the shore or on a boat, Lake Catherine provides a wealth of opportunity for anglers. Take your fishing gear out of the camper and try to catch catfish, walleye, bream, crappie, trout, and bass. Fly fishing with topwater lures is a surefire way to catch some of the most finicky bass, and you can try weighted live bait for those catfish at the bottom. You can also enjoy amazing views of the forests of the Ouachita Mountains from the lakeshore.

Boating

Lake Catherine State Park provides an abundance of opportunities for aquatic adventure. Whether you want to bring your motorized boat on a trailer or rent a paddleboat, you’ll be in a nature lover’s dream coasting across the majestic waters of Lake Catherine. Not only does the park have a full-service marina on-site, but you can also rent canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized boats. You can also enjoy watersports like waterskiing along the dreamy shores of the lake during your escape to Arkansas.

Off-Season

Guided Nature Hikes and Talks

If you want to learn more about Lake Catherine, you’ll love attending a nature talk or taking a guided nature hike along the trails. Once you park your rig and head out on the trail, you’ll learn about the incredible natural history and native wildlife in the park. One such hike will take you on the Horseshoe Mountain Trail, which is a three-mile route along rocky ridges and quaint grassy knolls. These programs are regularly offered year-round.

Lake Cruises

One of the best ways to explore Lake Catherine up close and personal during your motorhome trip is to take a scenic guided lake cruise. This one-hour excursion will let you sit back and relax as you pass by the fascinating scenery of the Ouachita Mountains across the lake. These cruises are regularly offered during the spring, summer, and fall. But don’t forget to bring your camera so you can share the beauty of your trip on your favorite social media site.

Nature Cabin

There are four historic cabins at Lake Catherine State Park that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 20th century. While three of the cabins offer a chance for history buffs to step back in time, the remaining cabin is now called the Nature Cabin. The Nature Cabin, which was built in 1935, features exhibits where you can learn all about the natural history and cultural heritage of the park. You won’t want to miss the chance to visit the Nature Cabin during your RV stay at the park.

Picnicking

Pack the family and friends in the RV before heading out to the park for a picnic or BBQ. Lake Catherine State Park offers a majestic setting filled with waterways, waterfalls, mountains, and forests. This is the perfect spot to take a relaxing picnic during your RV trip to Arkansas. The picnic areas are located in the middle of the park, which provides picnic tables and grills for your use. A playground is conveniently located nearby to keep the kids busy.

Spring and Winter Hikes

Even during the colder months, you’ll love the chance to park your rig and explore this scenic state park on foot. If you’re looking for a moderate hike through the forest, trek along the 4.5-mile Dam Mountain Trail, which passes through hardwood forests, streams, and cascades. If you are looking for an easier, picturesque trail, you’ll want to head out on the Slunger Creek Nature Trail, where you can gaze upon wildflowers bloom in the spring and frozen waterways in the winter.

Find the perfect campsite.