Lake Ouachita State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Lake Ouachita is the largest man-made lake within the borders of Arkansas and is named one of the cleanest lakes in the US. Lake Ouachita State Park is located in the beautiful Ouachita National Forest. The land for the park was originally owned by John McFadden, who failed to meet federal homestead laws and thus his property was sold to W.M. Cecil in 1907. By the 1930s Cecil had built several cabins and turned the area into a resort named after McFadden’s three daughters. At the close of the 1930s, Cecil sold his resort, which eventually ended up being owned by the state in the late 1940s. In order to meet the need for electricity in the area and monitor flooding conditions, the state decided to build several dams along the Ouachita River Valley.

The project was complete in 1952, a year ahead of schedule. After the construction, the state did not know what to do with the land and it laid unused until the 1960s. By the 1970s, new buildings were made and the park had its last renovation in 1995. Today, Lake Ouachita has over 40,000 acres geared towards water recreation, marine life, and a beautiful 975-mile shoreline where you can soak up the summer’s sun. There are more than 150 islands littered about the lake and multiple boating docks where you can park your boat for the duration of your stay.

The park is open year-round, with its peak season beginning in April and going until October. In the peak season you can enjoy fishing, canoeing, and Ouachita Kayak Tours, so be sure to pack your supplies in your RV. In the off-season, the park offers hiking, biking, and geocaching. There are 58 full hookup sites available, with wide open campsites along the lake. The park enjoys cool summers and cold winters. Since the lake is so big, it never freezes allowing you to have aquatic fun all year long.

RV Rentals in Lake Ouachita State Park

Transportation in Lake Ouachita State Park

Driving

Located on the edge of the Ouachita National Forest, Lake Ouachita State Park can be accessed by State Route 227. A lovely sign will welcome you to the state park and provide directions to the park office and visitor’s center. The park is also relatively close to Hot Springs, located a two-hour drive from the park, Blue Springs, Piney, and several other towns. If you forget to stock up on groceries before you started on your getaway, stop by one of these towns and do a little shopping. It would be wise to fill up your tank and get a few snacks for the grill.

While driving your RV, you can rest easy as you travel along the well-maintained roads throughout the park. The trees along the road are trimmed, radiating a feeling of being surrounded by nature and far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Campsites are shaded with lots of room to maneuver your RV. In order to guarantee that you have the best experience on your visit, it is recommended that you travel by foot or bike while in the park. Be mindful of pedestrians while you drive and pay close attention to the signs directing to the campsites and other areas of the park.

If you are anticipating having a later arrival than you had originally planned, be sure to call the park’s office and let the rangers know. In the case of inclement weather, the park officials will visit each guest and update them on either the evacuation procedures or moving them to a safer place. The water in the lake will occasionally rise, resulting in the campgrounds flooding and many of the bridges to close. Keep off the trails in the event of a storm or heavy snow in the forecast. Be sure to always check the weather before you travel. The park enjoys cool summers and cold winter with mild to moderate snowfall.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Lake Ouachita State Park

Campsites in Lake Ouachita State Park

Reservations camping

Loop C Campground

In this campground, there are 13 campsites with full hookups. It's near the water, but not all sites have a water view. Most of the sites are paved and shaded. You won't have to worry about leveling your RV with blocks, as most sites are already leveled. Because the sites are surrounded by trees, you don't have to worry about your privacy. At any given location, up to eight people can stay and a maximum of two cars are allowed. If you have an extra car, additional fees may apply. A picnic table, a grill, a fire ring, hot showers, and toilets are included. Firewood burning is only allowed for firewood approved by the park. When you are about to leave, if you have extra firewood, be sure to burn them and not bring them home. You can stay for a maximum of 14 days and you can reserve a site for up to 13 months in advance.

Loop B Campground

Loop B Campground has nine campsites with full hookups and is located between campground D and C. There are no bathhouses in this campground but there is one on your way to campground C. The smallest site can hold a 45-foot RV and the remaining sites can fit up to a 50-foot RV. A fishing area, dock, and marina are located next to the campground. If you are interested in going boating or waterskiing, then this may be the best campground for you. The lots are spacious with room for an awning and patio. Amenities included are a fire ring, a grill, restrooms, hot showers, and a picnic table. It is prohibited to bring your own firewood or gather firewood from the surrounding areas. If you need firewood, then a ranger or park’s staff can direct you to where they are located. You may stay a limit of 14 days at a time and may reserve a site up to 13 months in advance.

Loop A Campground

Loop A Campground has 38 campsites with full hookups. There are also water spigots and a dumping station in the park if you need them. The maximum length for RVs in 50 feet and there is no minimum length. This campground is located right next to the lake and has plenty of trees to provide shade and privacy from your neighbor. If you are wanting to spend your time here fishing this is a lovely campground to reserve a site. There are only eight people allowed to stay at each campsite and two cars, if there is another car then it will be subject to an additional fee. Amenities included are hot showers, restrooms, picnic tables, a grill, and a fire ring. The gathering of firewood in the park is strictly prohibited, neither are you allowed to bring your own firewood from home. The park provides firewood near the park office. You are allowed to stay a maximum of 14 days at a time and can make a reservation up to 13 months in advance.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Lake Ouachita State Park

In-Season

Ouachita Kayak Tours

Strap your kayak to your RV when you visit Lake Ouachita State Park, but if you forget yours you can rent one from the park store. The park offers kayak tours along the 16-mile Geo-float Trail as well as near Buckville, Highway 27 Fishing Village, and Twin Creeks. While prior knowledge is not required, you must wear a lifejacket at all times. Tours can last from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the route you take. Remember to wear sunscreen and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. Leave all electronics at your RV or make sure they are waterproof and in a safe place.

Canoeing

Lake Ouachita State Park offers different types of water recreation for the entire family. You can strap your canoes to your RV or just rent one from the store on the marina. The Geo-float trail is a 16-mile trail that takes an hour and a half to complete. You can test your endurance by paddling along the trail and exploring each stop to learn more about the park. Remember to wear sunscreen and take a snack with you while you are out on the water. You are required to wear a lifejacket at all times when you are in the boat. If you want to bring your electronics along, please make sure that they are waterproof and sealed away in a safe place.

Fishing

Lake Ouachita is named one of the best fishing spots in the entire state. The lake is seasonally stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, bream, catfish, and many more. Remember to pack your sunscreen and fishing rod in your RV. If you forget any of your fishing supply, you can pick some up at the store near the marina area. While you do not need a fishing license, you are required to follow the rules about catch and release of smallmouth ball and the daily limit of six largemouth bass. You can also rent a boat and buy bait inside the store if you decide to go on an all-day trip. Ask the park’s staff about the best fishing holes and remember to take photos of your catch to show your family and friends back home.

Off-Season

Interpretive Programs

Lake Ouachita State Park has interpretive programs for all ages. Rangers lead programs where they talk about the ecosystem and history of the park. You can sign up for these programs at the park office or by calling ahead. You may come across mini waterfalls or explore one of the many islands on the lake. Remember to carry your water bottle, sunscreen, and wear a pair of sturdy hiking boots. If you don’t want to follow a ranger, then pick up a map of the park and follow along with the points of interest.

Hiking

Hopefully, you remembered to pack your hiking shoes before you left home. There are two hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous. Dogwood Trail is for a leisurely walk, while the Cabbo Bend Trail is a lot more strenuous. This trail is four miles long traveling around the perimeter of the main park area. Photographers, nature enthusiasts, and hikers will fall in love with this trail for its natural beauty and large trees hanging over the trail.

Biking

On one of two trails, you can take your bike and explore the surrounding area. Taking the Dogwood Trail will give you a taste of the lush and green nature of the park. This is a five-mile trail with unique wildlife and interpretive signs. Unfortunately, there are no bike rentals in the park, but in the surrounding towns, there should be a few. If you want a challenging course, take the Cabbo Bend Trail, which begins at the amphitheater and circles the entire peninsula to where it began. Make sure you grab a trail map and bring a friend for moral support.

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