Summer is prime time for taking advantage of all the great programs and family activities offered in Arkansas State Parks. Park interpreters make learning fun through all kinds of experiences. Here are a few of their July offerings, but check out the Calendar of Events for a full list of all there is to do, from hour long sessions to overnight camps for kids.
In the River Valley
Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville tells visitors about different kinds of animals found in the areas diverse habitats, like the armored armadillo or beautiful butterfly. Other programs discuss the unique culture of the River Valley or provide birding basics. You can also learn some of the games Native Americans, who once inhabited this area, developed and played. Kids can also enjoy the Aquatic Adventures Day Camp.
Lake Fort Smith State Park in Mountainburg helps people cool off with Summer Breeze Boat Tours on Frog Bayou. Or make your own small boat from items gathered from nature then set it to sail. It, too, has nature programs like Critter Crunch, where you can join a park interpreter to feed critters that live in the park exhibits. Other programs look at water quality and preservation, or fish habitats. You can also take guided hikes, kayak adventures, or take a covered wagon ride. You’ll find snake programs at this park too, but you won’t find me at them! I hate snakes.
Mount Magazine State Park near Paris features Maryann Stafford as the Artist of the Month. A lifetime resident of Arkansas, Stafford’s works on display at the lodge showcase drawings and paintings of Arkansas trees through the seasons. Several guided hikes are offered, like the Highpoint Hike to the state’s highest point. You can even pick up tips for attracting hummingbirds to your yard or learn about black bears.
Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton offers family-friendly games of softball. They have all the equipment, so just show up for the fun. Day camps for kids consist of educational programs, crafts, games, hiking, and more.
In the Ozarks
Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in Rogers you get dirty and wet discovering the unique critters found in Little Clifty Creek during Stream Investigation. Or learn the basics of animal tracking as you hike along the Ozark Plateau Trail.
Bull Shoals-White River State Park in Bull Shoals offers Powerhouse and Dam Tours, giving insight into one of the largest concrete dams in the United States. It helps you understand how water is used to make electric power when you see the massive equipment used to produce this important energy resource. You can also learn about the history of the construction, the environmental and commercial impact of the dam, and the role it plays in providing flood control, hydropower and recreational opportunities. This park also offers sunset/moonrise cruises and day time lake cruises on Bull Shoals Lake, and tons of programming at its amphitheater.
Devil’s Den State Park in West Fork is known for its programs on bats, among numerous other offerings. Withrow Springs State Park in Huntsville also offers a Go Batty program, as well as guided nature trail hikes, art sessions, Campfire 101, Star Gazing Parties, and other activities.
Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View beats the summer heat with Cool Foods Cooking Classes, where you can learn to make ice cream, iced drinks, and other southern traditions. OFC also offers Day Camp for kids where you can try your hand at several different crafts like pottery making, soap sculpture, tie dye, music and more. Devil’s Den has an overnight kid’s campout. Many of the parks offer day camps in the summer with activities that range from crafting, kayaking and hiking, to nature programming.
Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Prairie Grove offers Spinning Demonstrations, where members of the local Wool and Wheel Handspinners Guild demonstrate the ancient art of spinning thread and discuss the basics of making cloth in the Arkansas Ozarks. You can also learn about lace making.