Adventures off the beaten path
Three counties, endless ways to enjoy the outdoors and small-town charm. Head to the southwest corner of Arkansas for a getaway that feels off-the-beaten path but is still close to a number of destinations and attractions. Arkansas Southwest Waterways includes Howard, Little River and Sevier counties, which line both the Oklahoma and Texas borders. The three counties share Millwood Lake, a popular destination for fishing. The easy-to-access, affordable destination also includes access to five other lakes and rivers, hence the name! Visit towns like De Queen, Ashdown and Nashville for history, culture and good eats during your stay.
2024 eclipse site
On April 8, 2024, Arkansas Southwest Waterways will be in the path of totality for the Great North American Eclipse. Experience this once-in-a-lifetime event in southwest Arkansas. Sevier County will have the longest duration of total darkness, reaching 4 minutes, 17 seconds. Numerous eclipse events are planned in De Queen, with the Sevierly Dark Festival being chief among them. On April 6, an astrophysicist and astronomer will visit the town to provide festival-goers with more information on this natural phenomena. Hot air balloons and festival fun will also be a part of the celebration.
In addition, both Ashdown in Little River County and Nashville in Howard County plan to hold festivals. Their totality will reach 3 minutes, 34 seconds and 3 minutes, 42 seconds, respectively — making them excellent viewing spots for the total solar eclipse. Head to Little River County for Hometown Sounds for music from local, regional and national artists born and raised in the county. Other family-friendly activities are also planned for the big event. Nashville is still putting the finishing touches on their festivities but visitors are assured an unforgettable eclipse experience throughout the entire southwest region.
Millwood lake and state park
Millwood Lake is a prime fishing destination in Arkansas. Fish 29,000 acres for largemouth bass, catfish and crappie. The lake spreads its fingers across all three counties in Arkansas Southwest Waterways with multiple access points, including the recently updated Yarborough Landing in Ashdown that can accommodate more than 130 vehicles for parking. This lake is also home to bass fishing tournaments. Each spring, visitors are invited to take part in the Millwood Fishing Challenge. Here, you can try your rod at catching one of 150 tagged fish, including the prize fish known as “Big Millie,” worth $10,000.
Millwood State Park offers numerous opportunities for family fun and relaxation. Bring your RV, camper or tent for a weekend stay at one of their designated AAA, AA, B and D sites. Rent a canoe, kayak or fishing boat from the park’s marina or look for the park’s famed alligators — from afar, of course! If you prefer a more laid back activity, try hiking on the Wildlife Lane Nature Trail or Waterfowl Way Trail. You can experience another of the Arkansas Southwest Waterways favorite pastimes — birdwatching — on these easy-to-navigate paths.
More waterways to explore
Arkansas Southwest Waterways is also home to Dierks Lake, De Queen Lake and Gillham Lake as well as the Red River and Little River. Dierks Lake, located in the town of the same name, is a smaller body of water that is popular for waterskiing as well as fishing. At De Queen Lake in De Queen, you can enjoy 32 miles of shoreline for swimming, boating, fishing, and even camping at one of the Corps of Engineers’ 110 campsites in their recreation area. The lake is home to a recently opened multi-use trail for hiking, biking and running. Similarly, Gillham Lake, in Howard County, offers many of the same activities and 70 campsites within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation area. The Red River flows along the state’s Texas border. The Little River is dammed to create Millwood Lake. In addition, a large portion of the Little River creates the Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge, a wetland habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl that is an excellent place for viewing and photography. White Cliffs Natural Area, a large outcrop of Annona Chalk, is a bucket list experience to add to your water adventures. The 100-foot-high chalk bluff overlooks the river and Millwood Lake can be seen from the ridgeline in fall and winter.
Small town charm
Arkansas Southwest Waterway is filled with inviting downtown areas, history and local culture displays. In Ashdown, check out colorful murals on the exterior of both the library and the Two Rivers Museum, which houses local historical artifacts. In Sevier County, you’ll find at least 17 authentic Mexican restaurants — the most in one Arkansas county. In Howard County, you can find one the state’s 19 Depression-era art installations at the Nashville Post Office.
Make Arkansas Southwest Waterways your hub for fun. Plan to stay for a week or long weekend and take advantage of the close proximity to other areas of Arkansas as well as Texas and Oklahoma. Texas towns such as Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs and Paris are all under two hours away while Broken Bow is just over the Oklahoma line. There are also numerous Arkansas destinations that are reachable in under two hours from all points of the tri-county Arkansas Southwest Waterway. These include Hope, Hot Springs, Mount Ida and Mena.