Camping in Arkansas state offers a wide variety of natural settings to enjoy. The western half of the state is mountainous, including Magazine Mountain at nearly 3,000 feet.
The Boston Mountains are north of the Arkansas River, as is the Ozark Plateau. South of the river are the Ouachita Mountains and some of the most remarkable drives you can find in the Midwest.
Eastern Arkansas borders on the mighty Mississippi and features Crowley’s Ridge, a great stretch for hikers who aren’t looking for a mountain to climb.
Arkansas is bordered by Louisiana to the south, Tennessee, and Mississippi to the east, Missouri to the north and Oklahoma and Texas to the west.
While summers can be hot, the nights will cool down nicely, particularly in the mountains. If you can, plan a drive through the Ouachita Mountains in the fall.
Can you go camping during the Covid-19 pandemic in Arkansas?
All state parks in Arkansas remain open during the Covid-19 pandemic but with special social distancing and capacity limitations in place. Check here for more info.
Are Arkansas state parks free?
You can enter Arkansas state parks, museums and their collections for free but camping in the state park in not FREE.
Buffalo National River Park – Lost Valley Lodging
- Phone: 870-8611-5522
- Address: State Road 43 at State Road 74, Ponca, AR 72670
If you’d love to get outdoors but aren’t able to tent camp or don’t have an RV, Cabin Camping can be ideal. The Lost Valley Lodging Campground offers private cabins along the Buffalo National River.
This park is part of the Ozark National Forest, a hiker’s haven loaded with amazing views.
No matter where you stay in the Buffalo National River Park, you’ll find access to cool water to soak your feet, a beautiful trail with great views and the reward of a breathtaking vista at the summit. You can travel light and still love camping!
Greer’s Ferry Lake – Cliff Jumps
- Phone: 800-774-3237
- Address: 10714 Highway 92 East, Bee Branch, AR, 72013
Greer’s Ferry Lake is located in North Central Arkansas. This stretch of water runs from Choctaw in the west to Hill Creek in the north, Tumbling Shoals to the east and Cove Creek at the southern tip. If you like being on the water, whether it’s to fish, swim or dive, Greer’s Ferry will be a one of your favorite Arkansas Campsites.
There are 12 campsites on the water complex. You can find space for your RV as well as pitch a tent in a primitive stop. This waterway was created by the Greer’s Ferry Dam, dedicated by President John F. Kennedy.
It should be noted that this lake is considered to be one of the cleanest in the country, so if your scuba gear is feeling lonely, bring it to Arkansas.
Bring a good map of the area and store it in a waterproof bag. Greer’s Ferry includes over 32,000 acres of water, and the shorelines offer a lot of variety. Do your best to get to your campsite in the daylight; the topography here can be tricky. We’re happy to help you find your spot!
Lake Ouachita National Forest
Whether you’re camping in a group or just need to be by yourself. you can find plenty of options in the Lake Ouachita National Forest campground offerings.
If you’re looking for some hard climbing and great views, visit Jack Creek. For those who want a bit more comfort, consider renting one of the State Park cabins, located at the
RVers will find a comfortable spot at the Charlton Recreation Area, just 20 miles west of Hot Springs, Arkansas. It should be noted that not all camping sites have spaces for RVs, so be sure to check with each site manager before driving down any narrow road.
If you’re looking for quiet, seek out a campsite on Shady Lake. There are 96 units for tents, showers and drinking water available as needed. Best of all, there are no motors allowed on Shady Lake. Pack in your kayak and go for a paddle in the calm and stillness.
Gamaliel Campground on Norfolk Lake
- Phone: 870-425-2700
- Address: 324 West 7th Street, Mountain Home, AR
Gamaliel Campground on Norfolk Lake is located in North Central Arkansas, just south of the Missouri Border.
There are 63 sites total with spaces for RVs, trailers and truck campers as well as tents, and there are tiny house cabins available for rental as well.
This US Army Corps of Engineers campsite offers visitors the chance to swim, hike, fish, dive and even go cave exploring. You can even set up your camping site in cool, sweet shade and just relax!
There are showers and potable water, but be sure to bring in enough drinking water to last you the full length of your stay. There are firepits available (check with local authorities before burning anything, ever) and picnic tables at several sites. Like a lot of mountain lakes, this lake was created by the building of a dam. The water is clean and clear and the diving is amazing, so be ready to get low and see the sights.
The driving in Arkansas is beautiful, but the visibility can be hampered by the tightness of the curves and the topography. Do your best to get to your site in the daylight.
Mount Nebo State Park
- Phone: 479-2209-3365
- Address: 16728 West State Hwy. 155, Dardanelle, AR 72834
Mount Nebo is a great spot for those with small RVs (less that 24 feet), truck campers, tents and anyone who wants to rent a cabin. It’s nestled in the west of Arkansas, just north of the Ouachita Mountains.
There are 14 miles of hiking and biking trails at Mount Nebo State Park. Cabins and campsites offer views of the river valley from the bluff. In addition to cabin rentals, campers will find 24 sites for Class B RVs and 10 hike-in tent sites.
This campsite also offers a swimming pool, picnic benches and pavilions, and a visitor’s center. P
lease be aware that the road here is a one way, has multiple switchbacks and includes at least one 18% grade. Do NOT attempt to get to this campground in the dark.
Lake Catherine State Park – Best for Kids
- Phone: 501-844-4176
- Address: 1200 Catherin Park Road, Hot Springs, AR 71913
Lake Catherine is one of the smaller lakes southwest of Little Rock. This private and cozy campground offers visitors a wide variety of options, including 70 RV sites as well as yurts, cabins and cottages. Finally, there are 70 tent sites you can enjoy as well. Laundry facilities and hot showers will reduce your labors at the end of your stay too!
There’s a playground for the kids and plenty of hiking for grownups who need a nature break. If you enjoy time on or in the water, check out the kayaking and canoeing options.
Highway 171 approaches the lake from the west and is a simpler drive than many of the more mountainous roads of Arkansas.
If you’ve got a boat to tow, your drive to the boat ramp will be a bit easier if you stay on Lake Catherine.
Hickory Creek Campground on Beaver Lake
- Phone: 479-750-2943
- Address: 12618 Hickory Creek Road
Arkansas lakes offer beautiful beaches as well as family fun, and Hickory Creek is a great spot for volleyball, swimming, and sunbathing. This campground offers 61 sites for RVs and 55 tent sites.
Hickory Creek is located in the northwest corner of Arkansas and is just southwest of the Hobbes State Park Conservation Area.
Because you’ll be at the southern end of the long water complex that is Beaver Lake, you can enjoy a quiet stay with easy access from the west.
Hickory Creek has the benefit of very level sites, space for Class A RVs, and amazing views!
Lake DeGray – Alpine Ridge
- Phone: 501-865-5850
- Address: 757 Alpine Ridge Landing Road, Amity, AR 71921
If you’re looking for peace, quiet and easy access, Alpine Ridge is a great option. This state park is just southwest of Little Rock. In relation to the other campgrounds on Lake DeGray, this one offers plenty of privacy and quiet.
For RVers, you’ll be happy to know that access is fairly simple on paved roads and finding a level site will be pretty quick. Tent campers will enjoy the stay among the trees.
Like all US Army Corps of Engineers, this area is heavily wooded and offers plenty of shade.
There’s a great swimming beach and a boat ramp for getting on the water. If you want to hike in to a campsite and rough it, you can find a spot among the trees away from everyone. For those who like a hot shower and a bit more comfort, there are restrooms with showers and fresh drinking water.
Hot Springs National Park
- Phone: 501-624-5912
- Address: 838 McClendon Road, Hot Springs, AR
The Hot Springs National Park is a KOA campground that offers plenty of options for campers of all preferences.
If you want a tent site, you can find one. Get out, go for a good hike, stretch your muscles and soak in the hot springs. What could be better?
RVers will find an ideal setup in this KOA site. In total, there are 75 RV sites, and 13 of them are pull-thru. You’ll find 66 full hookup sites and 15 extended-stay suites. If you want to stay in a rustic cabin and travel light, Hot Springs offers several private, free-standing little homes just for you.
Each site has its own picnic table and plenty of space. You’ll find a great playground and easy access to hiking. Lake Hamilton is just down the road if you’ve got an itch to fish, too!
Your time in Arkansas will be unique and fun. Whether you’re interested in fishing, swimming, kayaking or diving, the water will keep you guessing and cool.
Climbers will enjoy their stay on Mount Nebo, and hikers will find great trails in every park in the state.
No matter your outdoor goals, Arkansas is ready to play!