Three great rivers merge near Moro Bay in southern Arkansas, making Moro Bay State Park one of the best weekend getaways in Arkansas, Louisiana, and other nearby ports of call. It’s the only state park on the entire lower Ouachita River, so it’s a unique destination in the Natural State.
Fish love the slow-moving waters of the Ouachita, LaBaum, and Raymond Lake Rivers, so Moro Bay State Park is a popular place for anglers. The area is geographically diverse as well. Dense forests and meandering rivers exist alongside underground rock formations. That combination attracts more than RV campers. Wildlife and birds abound here as well. There is a bit of history here as well. The epicenter of the southern Arkansas oil boom was not far away, and Moro Bay was once home to one of the most thriving riverboat ferry operations in the South. Designated hiking trails allow campers to explore all this diversity and history. You can also float along the river and get a different perspective.
The Moro Bay State Park RV campground has approximately two dozen full hookup sites. So, this park is a good place to relax, reconnect with friends and loved ones, and enjoy the outdoors in relative comfort.
Moro Bay State Park is just off U.S. Highway 63, which is the main drag between El Dorado and Warren. If you don’t know where those towns are, El Dorado is not too far from Shreveport and Warren is not too far from Pine Bluff. If you don’t know where those towns are, make sure your GPS device is fully charged.
The park was almost completely inaccessible until the early 1990s, when workers completed bridges over Raymond Lake (which is actually a river) and the Ouachita River (which really is a river). Highway 63 is a bit narrow, but it’s mostly straight and clear with good visibility. The area does not get densely wooded until you are almost at the park.
Inside this small and intimate state park, there is lots of large vehicle parking on either side of the boat launch, as well as near the ferry/tugboat exhibit. Pretty much everything else is within walking distance.
Most of the 23 RV parking spots at this campground have excellent views of Raymond Lake, because this river basically runs parallel to the snake-like campground. All of these spots have 30/50 amp electrical hookups, along with water and sewer lines. So, it’s almost exactly like staying at home, except you are camping in the wild. Campground amenities include a nice restroom/shower area, children’s play area, and easy access to the hiking trails, group pavilion, and marina/boat launch.
The two hiking trails at Moro Bay State Park are more like family-friendly nature trails. They are flat, short, well-marked, and scenic. The .25-mile Deer Run Loop Trail begins and ends near the main children’s play area. This trail goes through some of the scenic woods that envelope Moro Bay State Park. This trail is also near the camping area. The .25-mile Low Water Trail begins near the campground as well. This trail ends at a picturesque riverside picnic area. So, you can either walk off your picnic lunch or work up an appetite. As the name implies, the Low Water Trail is occasionally underwater, so it is a little muddy much of the time.
The boat launch is on the banks of the Ouachita River right next to a decent-size marina. These waterways are all fairly wide, but they may still be difficult for high-speed powerboats to navigate. Trolling motors work really well here, as do motorboats at low throttle. Unpowered craft, like canoes and kayaks, are definitely welcome here. These rivers have lots of forested inlets and curves to explore. Since this is bayou country, the trees are unusually tall and the curves are unusually scenic. Keep an eye out for the occasional alligator or crocodile. It’s also fun to paddle underneath one of the new bridges.
You won't want to forget your fishing gear in your camping or trailer when you head to Moro Bay State Park. Park rangers stock the area just below the dam with lots of trout between November and April. Furthermore, this part of the Ouachita River has lots of shoals and bedrock. That means plenty of smallmouth bass, catfish, and sunfish. Stripers usually run in the spring. Because of the clear water, sudden movements usually scare the fish. So, fly casting usually works pretty well here. In high summer, the fishing may not be as good, especially if there is a heat wave. The water is usually a bit cooler around the dams. Whatever you catch, clean it and bring it to the picnic area for a nice grilled fish meal.
From the late 1820s to the mid 1940s, Moro Bay was one of the premier shipping areas in southern Arkansas. Both Ouachita River banks were lined with warehouses. Their stores of cotton and other cash crops waited patiently for the next ferry to Monroe or New Orleans. Ferry service resumed in the mid 1960s, as the area’s population expanded. When crews completed the highway bridges, the ferry went out of business. But it’s still an important part of Southern Arkansas history. Some very nice interactive exhibits and displays help visitors connect with this history.
You'll want to make sure you have your binoculars in your campervan. The combination of trees, water, and bedrock attracts lots of mammals to this area. Some are on the ground and some are in the air. Abundant gray squirrels can usually be seen or heard in the trees. Larger fox squirrels are more active in the periphery of the park. Flying squirrels, which do not actually fly, often leap from tree to tree. They can glide up to 80 feet. Other airborne mammals include red bats and evening bats. Minks, otters, and other small river mammals are everywhere as well.
A large, open area is at the center of this heavily-forested state park. This flat, green space is a welcome change in many ways. This area includes a large outdoor pavilion that’s suitable for many parties and other large events. There is also a large, air-conditioned ballroom not far from the main park office that’s ideal for both corporate meetings and quinceaneras. The group pavilion area also includes a large athletic field, volleyball court, and other nice ways to pass the hours. Picnic tables and drinking water spigots are around as well.