Our readers are obviously very generous with the inside scoop on the Natural State. We actually convinced them to tell you where some of the best camping is in the state. Of course, they know to keep the details of the best Arkansas secrets to themselves, ensuring their continued access without the crowds. There are no specifics, GPS coordinates, or campsite numbers included here, but they did give you a head start to the best areas to find your own favorite camping spot. Here are their top 5 Places You Want to Camp This Fall.
#4 (tie) Along the Ozark Highland Trail – 7.27%
The Ozark Highlands Trail travels 218 miles through seven counties in northwest Arkansas. It stretches from Lake Fort Smith State Park, across the Ozark National Forest, to the Buffalo National River. The trail passes through some of the most remote and scenic portions of the Ozark Mountains, like the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area. It also crosses White Rock Mountain, Hare Mountain, the Marinoni Scenic Area, and many other breathtaking spots. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail as long as you are at least 200 feet out of sight from the trail and away from any water source.
#4 (tie) Bull Shoals-White River State Park – 7.27%
During hot Summer months, Bull Shoals-White River State Park in North Central Arkansas is one of the coolest places to camp. The campground is located just below the Bull Shoals Dam where clear water is fed to the White River from the bottom of the lake making it ice cold. During the day, paddle or fish the river- this is fly-fishing heaven. Or take a hike or mountain bike ride on some of the park trails. Although the park offers high-end RV sites, we like to take advantage of the tent sites just away from the river. At night, a cool fog often rolls across the campground from the river, dropping the temperatures for a perfect night of sleep. While there check out the state-of-the-art visitor center to learn more about the history of the area.
#3 Petit Jean State Park – 9.09%
The mother of Arkansas State Parks, Petit Jean State Park, has been attracting campers since long before it became a state park. You’ll find your campsite is just a place to sleep as all the available activities take you away from your campsite. Go for a hike on over 20 miles of trails, the Seven Hollows Trail was picked as a fan favorite by our readers. Go kayaking on Lake Bailey, enjoy an overlook on Red Bluff Drive, or during the Summer you can swim at the public pool. A visit isn’t complete without a meal at Mather Lodge. The park has camping for everything from tents to RVs and even has Yurts in case you don’t feel like setting it all up yourself.
#2 Devil’s Den State Park – 16.36%
Along the shores of Lee Creek in Northwest Arkansas lies Devil’s Den State Park. One of the original Civilian Conservation Corps parks, Devil’s Den has been hosting campers for over 80 years. Walk out of your campsite onto miles of beautiful trails past crevices and caves, to overlooks, and around massive rock formations. This park hosts trail runs and is home to the oldest mountain bike festival in the state. Backpacking is available on the Butterfield Trail. The park has a seasonal pool, interpretive programs and is famous for Bat-o-Rama held every June. Like many Arkansas State Parks, Devil’s Den has all kinds of camping including hike-in sites so you can get away from the crowds.
#1 Buffalo National River – 23.67%
Camping along the Buffalo National River is one of the truly unique adventures offered by the Natural State. The first National River, the Buffalo is home to several improved campgrounds but, floating the river itself and setting up an overnight stay on a gravel bar or elsewhere along the shore is an Arkansas treat. Clear, clean water to play or fish in, high bluffs to explore, and wildlife to watch make this a great family trip. You can learn more about floating the river on the National Park Service website.
All we ask in exchange for this information is that you practice Leave No Trace outdoor ethics in our wild areas because you’ll want to share this with your grandchildren someday. Which of the – 5 Places You Want to Camp This Fall do you think you’ll make it to?
(All photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism)