Lake Dardanelle State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Nestled in a scenic spot along the Arkansas River, Lake Dardanelle State Park is where the eastern forests meet the western plains. The park offers multiple recreational activities and educational programs.

Campers enjoy views of the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains, as well as spectacular sunsets over the 34,300-acre reservoir. Avian species such as ducks, geese, and songbirds flock to this location in large numbers each spring and fall. More than 350 kinds of birds, and a wide variety of butterflies have been seen here. The park provides checklists, maps, and brochures for birdwatchers.

All the facilities are open year-round due to the region’s warm climate. Two large campgrounds accommodate large RVs and provide many amenities. The National Park Service has designated Dardanelle State Park as an official site on the historic Trail of Tears water route. The park is renowned for its world-class fishing and annual bass tournament. Anglers also catch crappie, bream, catfish, and alligator gar in the lake and river. There are boat ramps, fishing piers, a state-of-the-art fish weigh-in pavilion, and a boardwalk beside the lake.

Guests can explore 315 miles of shoreline, including multiple coves. They may rent power boats, kayaks, sailboats, party barges, stand-up paddleboards, and jet skis. Exhibits, presentations, and tours teach visitors about the area’s history, geology, wildlife, and vegetation. Most of the educational programs are geared to children, while others are for everyone.

RV Rentals in Lake Dardanelle State Park

Transportation in Lake Dardanelle State Park

Driving

Lake Dardanelle State Park is located in Russellville, AR, off of Highway 40. You can reach the park in a little over an hour from Little Rock. Navigating to the park should be a breeze since its located so close to town. Local roads are wide and well-marked.

RV sites line several paved loops in campgrounds on opposite sides of the lake. You don’t have to worry about steep hills or other unwanted driving challenges, even if you have a large RV. The campgrounds are right beside the lake, at the base of the Arkansas River Valley, so the roads are relatively flat. Large parking lots are located in the Day Use Area by the Visitors Center.

Getting around the park is easy. You can walk to many places, or rent a bicycle. No parking for tow vehicles is available.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Lake Dardanelle State Park

Campsites in Lake Dardanelle State Park

Reservations camping

Russellville Campground

Several loops in the Russellville Campground consist of a total of 57 sites, which RVers may reserve up to one year in advance. This main campground offers a mix of campsites with full hookups, and other with just water and electric connections. Some sites offer lakefront views. Every spot has a table, a grill, and a fire ring. Many of the sites provide a bit of shade, or at least some vegetation.

The Russellville Campground features modern restrooms and bathhouses, a sanitary dump station, picnic pavilions, and boat ramps. There are stores and a gift shop where you can buy snacks and drinks, firewood, ice, and camping supplies. A first-aid station administers emergency treatment for anyone injured at the park. There is good cell-phone reception for all the major service providers, but the park does not have its own Wi-Fi. The campground is pet-friendly and open year-round.

Dardanelle Campground

The Dardanelle Campground contains 18 Class B sites that offer water and electric hookups. You can relax after a long day of fun since each campsite features a picnic table, grill, and fire ring. If you want to eat with a large group there is also a picnic area and pavilion nearby. You’ll be within steps of a boat dock and launch so this is the perfect camping area for water lovers. If the kids needs to get out some energy they can enjoy the on-site playground. A bathhouse is also centrally located. The campground is pet-friendly and open year-round. Keep in mind that the Dardanelle Campground is located in a different area of the park then the main campground. If you want to reach other areas of the park like the Visitor Center or Meadowbrook Self-Guided Trail you’ll have to drive.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Lake Dardanelle State Park

In-Season

Fishing

Fishing is a popular sport at Lake Dardanelle State Park. Once you lug your fishing gear out of the campervan you can head to the massive 34,300-acre lake to bait your hook. You might just be one of the lucky ones to catch the largemouth bass that this reservoir is known for. Other possible catches include bream, catfish, and crappie. Once you’ve had enough of the lake you can try the Dardenelle Dam or Arkansas Riber, which is known for large alligator gar.

Boating

Lake Dardanelle is the center of the action during the warmer months. You can cruise all along the 34,400-acre lake in a power boat or ride the winds in your sailboat. For those looking for more adventure on the water, water skiing is all the rage at this state park. Didn’t bring a boat? No problem. You can rent kayaks or stand up paddleboards at the Visitor Center and explore the coves of the lake.

Visiting the Aquarium

Lake Dardanelle State Park offers a unique attraction that the whole family can enjoy - an aquarium! Located in the Visitor Center, the 7,000-gallon freshwater aquarium features all kinds of interesting sea creatures that are native to the area. Kids of all ages will love the aquarium’s interactive exhibits where you can pet turtles and see honey bees in their hive. Once you’re done at the aquarium you can check out the other educational exhibits or watch an orientation video at the Visitor Center.

Off-Season

Attending Interpretive Programs

There are all kinds of year-round events and interpretive programs that will peak your interest during your RV trip to Lake Dardanelle State Park. You can learn about the Arkansas wilderness on a guided nature hike or listen to ranger stories during a nature talk. If you want to get out on the water the park regularly hosts kayak and lake tours. Make sure to park your camper at the Visitor Center to inquire about programs scheduled during your stay.

Hiking

Lake Dardanelle State Park is the perfect place to take a peaceful stroll or serene hike to get back in touch with nature. Those looking for an easy pace will enjoy the nearly one-mile-long Meadow Brook Trail. This self-guided trail will take you through the shady forest and native fauna. There is a scenic overlook and wildlife viewing area near the entrance of the trail.

Bird Watching

Birding enthusiasts will love visiting this area of Arkansas in their RV. Lake Dardanelle State Park is a perfect place to spot migratory birds including geese and ducks. RV campers can listen for the tunes of the local songbirds by the peaceful lake. Children will love trying to look for butterflies at the nature garden by the Visitor Center. Make sure you pack your binoculars in your rig and ask the park staff for a birding checklist.

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