But, water is the element intrinsic to its existence. The town emerged in the late ‘40s along with the development of Bull Shoals Dam on the White River which created Bull Shoals Lake. The town is bordered on the north, northeast and west by the waters of Bull Shoals Lake. The White River flows alongside the town on the east. From the southeast, access to Bull Shoals is via a drive over the dam.
Completed in the early ‘50s, Bull Shoals Dam is one of the largest concrete dam structures in the nation. President Harry S. Truman cut the ribbon across the roadway at the dam opening. When the new man-made lake filled for the first time in the spring of 1953, it brought about a boom in tourism, and national and regional publicity from media outlets – an aspect that still exists today.
Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas’s largest lake with 45,440 acres of water and a 1,000-mile shoreline, stretches along Arkansas's northern border and into southern Missouri. Anglers are drawn to the lake's catches of lunker bass, catfish, crappie and bream. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy boating, diving and swimming in these clear open waters.
The cold waters emanating from the massive, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-built dam created great trout fishing on the White River, an element for which it is internationally famous. Many outfitters in the area provide guide service and rent boats and equipment.
Other majors draws to this region are the natural beauty of the Ozarks for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, biking, birding, horseback riding, and caving. Arkansas's seventh state park, Bull Shoals-White River State Park also lures people. The lakeshore section of the park is a day-use area with tree-shaded picnic tables, a playground and Lakeside Trail. The main section of the park is situated on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam. This area of the park is a popular camping destination that features campsites along or near the river, Rent-A-Camp sites and Rent-An-RV units. Park facilities include picnic areas, pavilions, playgrounds, hiking trails, and a multi-use trail. The park's trout dock offers boat, motor, kayak and canoe rentals; and supplies, equipment, and gifts for sale. The park also offers dam tours and interpretive programs. Positioned on the highpoint on the west end of the dam, the James A. Gaston Visitor Center affords visitors a sweeping view of the river, dam and lake.
Primarily a retirement and vacation center, Bull Shoals is also host to golfing, caverns, theater, numerous events and more.