12 stellar camping spots found across Arkansas

Picnicking and Camping at Bull Shoals White River State Park
Picnicking and Camping at Bull Shoals White River State Park

Camping is a great way to enjoy the state’s natural beauty. Many opportunities to pitch a tent or pull up a camping trailer can be found throughout the wide range of geographic environments found here. Arkansas is home to mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, prairies and each area provides a portal to enjoying nature and the outdoors. Below is a sample of the many varied camping choices that can be found across the state.

1. Cove Lake

You’ll find this mountain lake along Scenic Ark. 309 in the shadows of Mount Magazine, the state’s highest peak and home to a state park of the same name. Cove Lake features swimming, hiking, camping, and fishing in its 160-acres in the Ozark National Forest. There are 28 family-unit campsites, 24 family-unit picnicking sites, restrooms with hot showers, drinking water, and boat launching ramp. Boating and jet skis are allowed on Cove Lake. The lake is home to catfish, bass and perch. It is stocked every other year, although a small amount of catfish are stocked annually. From Paris take Ark. 109/309 south then turn southwest on Ark. 309 and go 9 miles. The roads are negotiable by camping trailers. 

Cove Creek Lake.

2. Gunner Pool Recreation Area

Stretching along the scenic North Sylamore Creek, campsites are shady and private but have no electrical or water hook-ups at Gunner Pool Recreation Area. Campsites have grills, tables, lantern poles and tent pads. Trailhead access to Sylamore Hiking Trail is located within the campground. Just minutes away is Blanchard Springs Caverns, where you can enjoy guided walking tours or get down in dirty with a wild cave tour adventure. Access is by a steep, winding, dirt road, not recommended for large recreation vehicles. 

Camping spot at Gunner Pool Recreational Area

3. Woolly Hollow State Park

This state park, around 45 minutes from Little Rock, has 30 updated AAA 50 Amp sites (two accessible) and 10 waterfront tent sites. The new Enders Fault hiking and biking trail will keep campers busy during the day as will a walk around the lake on the scenic Huckleberry trail. Also of note, Lake Bennett was named the best swimming spot in Arkansas by the Weather Channel last year. The park is located at 82 Woolly Hollow Road in Greenbrier.

Camping at Woolly Hollow State Park

4. Lake Sylvia Recreation Area

This picturesque area is home to 27 camping sites (19 electric and 8 tent-only), there are several trails here including access to the Ouachita National Recreation Trail. The Wildcat Mountain Bike trail isn’t far nor is Scenic Highway 7. Camping facilities are available on a first-come, first-serve basis from mid-spring to early-fall.  To get here, go nine miles south of Perryville on Ark. 9, then west on Ark. 324 for four miles. 

Lake Sylvia Group spot.

5. Beech Point Campground at Mississippi River State Park

Love to fish? This spot needs to be at the top of your list. Located within Mississippi River State Park and the St. Francis National Forest, Beech Point Campground features 14 sites with full hookups and amenities. The campground forms a peninsula in Bear Creek Lake, a 625-acre man-made lake known for largemouth bass, bluegill, red-ear sunfish and blue and channel catfish. Cast a line next to your campsite at this unique campground.

Sunset at the Mississippi River State Park Campground

6. Lake Ouachita State Park

Lake Ouachita State Park in Mountain Pine is located on the eastern shore of Lake Ouachita, the largest lake (40,100 acres) in Arkansas. Camping is popular here and the park is currently in the midst of campground renovations. When complete, the total number of campsites available at the park will be 94. Fifty-eight of these are class A sites (which have electrical hook-up and amp service, etc.) and 36 are Class D (Hike-In Site, Tent) sites. Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, the park is home to hiking trails like the Caddo Bend Trail and is known nationwide for the largemouth bass fishing opportunities found on the lake. Water activities such as boating, water skiing, scuba diving and kayaking are also popular at the lake. 

Camping along the shore at Lake Ouachita State Park

7. Buffalo National River

This area maintains numerous campgrounds throughout the park, from primitive to developed. One fascinating feature of this area is the park’s designation as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association. The park visitor center is at Tyler Bend, 11 miles north of Marshall on U.S. 65. Availability varies on season and condition, so be sure to check out their website for the most up-to-date information on closures.

RV camping at the Buffalo Outdoor Center

8. Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park is Arkansas’s first state park and the perfect location to set up camp. Natural beauty greets you as you drive the winding road up to the visitor’s center. Nestled in the trees, the park’s 125 campsites are often speckled with brightly colored hammocks hung three deep in the forest. Petit Jean is home to popular hikes such as Cedar Falls, a 1.9 mile out-and-back trail that features a waterfall. Plan your trip after a good rain to ensure the best views.

A couple takes a photo at Petit Jean State Park.

9. Richland Creek Recreation Area

Feeling spontaneous? This campground doesn’t take reservations, so the early bird gets the worm around here. This location features a small mountain stream with waterfalls, bluffs and enough solitude to quiet even the noisiest of minds. Sites are available year-round with a $10 fee. From Russellville, take AR 7 North for 37 miles to Pelsor, then turn right on AR 16. Drive 10 miles and take a left down the gravel road, Forest Service Road 1205, and continue north 9 miles to Richland Creek.

Richland Creek Ben Hur.

10. Crater of Diamonds State Park

Crater of Diamonds State Park may be internationally recognized for its unique gems, but did you know you can camp there, too? Pitch a tent at one of Crater of Diamonds’ 47 AAA campsites, or if you’re feeling primitive, reserve a spot at one of five walk-in sites. With a waterpark and, oh yeah, a diamond dig site where you can keep what you find, this campsite provides fun for the entire family.

Father and daughter dig for diamonds.

11. Greers Ferry Lake

At the base of Round Mountain in the Ozarks sits Greers Ferry Dam, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The dam is home to Dam Site Park, where campers can hang their hammocks for as little as $16/day during peak season. Bring your best lake-worthy vessel as this area provides ample opportunity to get out on the water. An hour and a half north of Little Rock, Greers Ferry Lake is a short drive with a long list of reasons to set up camp!

Sunset on the water of Greers Ferry Lake.

12. Mount Nebo State Park

Mount Nebo may be known for its scenic views and rustic cabins, but its campsites are one of a kind. There are 34 campsites - 24 Class B and 10 hike-in sites - most with a view of the river valley below. There is no dump station at the park, so remember to pack in and pack out! There are 14 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails for the adventurous at heart. Or, if you prefer, you’re just a 45-minute drive away from Arkansas Wine Country. There’s truly something for everyone.

Couple resting at Mt Nebo State Park.