The best parks for outdoor activity in Arkansas

Published: December 25, 2014

This list is about parks that have hiking, swimming, camping and other outdoor activities that would appeal to a native of the state or a tourist visiting the natural state.  

  1. Petit Jean State Park

    Petit Jean sits on top of Mt. Petit Jean and has over 20 miles of hiking trails that will take you near waterfalls and beautiful overlooks.  The trails range from very easy to strenous, so there is something for everyone!  Accomodations are available if reserved in advance.

  2. Bull Shoals State Park

    Bull Shoals State Park sits above the White River, where it empties into Bull Shoals Lake, the largest lake in Arkansas.  This is a great area for water sports and fishing!   There are hiking trails and over a hundred campsites, with many near the cool water!

  3. Mt. Nebo State Park

    Mt. Nebo is one of only 2 parks that have launch sites for hang gliding!  It has 14 miles of trails of varying difficulties, several campsites, and 15 cabins, along with some great overlooks of the Arkansas River Valley.

  4. Crater of Diamonds State Park

    The only place in the U.S. where you can look for diamonds!  Just outside of Murfreesboro, Arkansas, the park yields white, brown and yellow diamonds, as well as many other types of rocks and minerals including garnet, amethyst, peridot, and more.  A great time to visit is right after a rain and remember, the motto here is , "Finders, Keepers!"

  5. Mt. Magazine State Park

    Near the small town of Paris, Arkansas, Mt. Magazine is the tallest mountain in the state and home to the Butterfly Festival.  The 60 room lodge is beautiful and fairly new and there are also 13 cabins to choose from.  There are a variety of trails, ranging from easy to strenous, and Cove Lake is nearby for swimming, boating, etc.

  6. Devil's Den State Park

    Located in the Lee Creek valley between Fayetteville and Ft. Smith, Devil's Den is one of Arkansas's oldest parks.  There are natural sandstone caves and miles of trails.  Visitors can choose to take guided trails or self-guided trails.  Cabins, camping, horse camping, and backpacking trails are all found at this picturesque park.

  7. Lake Ouachita State Park

    Sitting on the 40,000 acre Lake Ouachita, this park has great campsites and cabins.  There are two trails that visitors can hike, but the draw to this park is the crystal clear water!

  8. Hobbs State Park

    Largest park in Arkansas in land area.  This park offers a wide variety of activities to visitors, including water activities on Beaver Lake and miles of trails that take visitors under ARK Hwy 12 to the historic Van Winkle lumber mill and much, much more.  This park also has an outdoor shooting range.

  9. DeGray Lake State Park

    Come in January to see the Bald Eagles!  There are several guided tours that will take you to areas where you are likely to see this majestic bird.  There are also 5 hiking trails and a variety of resort style activities.

     

  10. Louisiana Purchase State Park

    Though not a park for camping, etc., it is definitely worth visiting this park that consists of boardwalks into a headwater swamp just south of Brinkley.  It is the site of the initial survey of the Louisiana territory, with stone markers comemorating the survey.

If I could only visit one of the parks listed, it would be Petit Jean.  This park offers such a variety of experiences that it appeals to anyone who enjoys the outdoors!