Lake Ouachita State Park is perhaps the best park in all of Arkansas for aquatic recreation. 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. 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. If you don't have your own boat, you can rent one from the full-service marina right inside the park.
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 campervan. In the off-season, the park offers activities such as hiking, biking, and geocaching, just to name a few. History buffs will love the chance to visit a historic site once owned by a 19-century homesteader called Three Sisters Springs.
You'll definitely want to bring your RV as there are 58 full-hookup sites available in the park's campground with several campsites along the lake. You'll enjoy moderate temperatures in the park year-round, and since the lake is so big, it never freezes. So, pack up your rig and head over to the park.
Located on the edge of the Ouachita National Forest, Lake Ouachita State Park is about an hour and 20 minutes west of Little Rock and 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 only 20 minutes from the Hot Springs, as well as Blue Springs, Piney, and several other small 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 too.
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 serenity as you are 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 guests 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. Occasionally the water in the lake will rise, resulting in the flooding of the campgrounds, causing bridges to close. Keep off the trails in the event of a storm or heavy snow in the forecast. With that said, the area generally maintains moderate temperatures with mild winters.
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 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 rig. 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 include 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 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. This campground is located right next to the lake and has plenty of trees to provide shade and privacy from your neighbor. If you want to spend your time here fishing, this is a lovely campground to reserve a site. There are only eight people allowed at each campsite along with two cars. If you bring another car, it will be subject to an additional fee.
Amenities include 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.
Although reservations are highly recommended, any campsites that are not reserved can be rented on a first-come, first-served basis.
Lake Ouachita State Park has interpretive programs for all ages. Rangers lead programs where campers can learn about the local ecosystem and history of the park. Rangers will lead guests on nature walks to point out wildlife and park features such as mini waterfalls and native plant life. Interpretive hikes may explore one of the many islands on the lake and learn all about wilderness survival as they explore the backcountry of the park.
Other regularly scheduled interpretive programs include lake cruises and guided kayaking tours. Go online or call ahead to see what programs will be available during your RV stay. 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.
You'll want to make sure to pack your best hiking boots for this RV vacation as Lake Ouachita State Park is well-known for its gorgeous hiking trails. There are two hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous. Dogwood Trail is perfect for a leisurely walk, while the Cabbo Bend Trail is a lot more strenuous. This challenging four-mile-long trail winds 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.
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.
During the winter, many of the state parks in Arkansas, including Lake Ouachita State Park, offer Eagle Watch Tours on the lake. Bald eagles nest in the area during winter months and can be seen flying over the lake frequently. The eagles build their winter nests high above Lake Ouachita and can be seen busy at work on them from December through February. Tours take off from the Ouachita Marina. Make reservations online or in the park office. Make sure to pack your binoculars or telephoto lens in your motorhome. Although temperatures are mild this time of year, guests should dress warm and layers are best.
Strap your kayak to your RV when you visit Lake Ouachita State Park, but if you don't have your own, 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. Experienced or not, you are required to 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 in your motorhome or make sure they are waterproof and in a safe place.
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.
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 supplies, 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.
Swim in the cool, clear waters of Lake Ouachita and take advantage of the nearby bathhouse on your next RV vacation to Lake Ouachita State Park. After a morning bike ride, you'll be ready to take a dip in the park's refreshing 40,000-acre lake before enjoying a relaxing picnic on the sandy shore. Although swimming next to your boat is allowed, most guests enjoy the calmer, quiet designated swimming area along the shoreline. However, no lifeguard is on duty, so swim with caution. Don't forget to pack your sunscreen in the campervan.