With so many natural resources, you will find campgrounds in Arkansas just
about everywhere you travel. Twenty-eight of the 52 state parks alone have Arkansas
camping facilities. Combine these with other Arkansas camping sites, and you
have more than 200 publicly-owned campgrounds in Arkansas with almost 10,000
individual sites. These include 2 national parks, 3 national forests, 19 Army
Corps of Engineers sites, 3 national wildlife refuges, and 88 municipal town
This doesn't include the hundreds of privately-owned sites that provide Arkansas
river camping around fishing
and lake resorts as well as
recreational vehicle and motor home hook ups outside of parks and near other
attractions. Some of these are exclusive, offering many of the amenities and
facilities you might find at luxury
hotels. Others are very basic and designed to get the most out of the pristine
wilderness areas. You'll find everything in between as there are campsites in
Arkansas that will suit every taste and budget.
For camping in Arkansas state parks, you need to make reservations, and the sites are available on a first come, first serve basis. These 28 park sites range from primitive tent sites that require hiking in to more sophisticated drive-in family campgrounds in Arkansas with conveniences like water, electric, and sewer hook ups, and modern bathhouses with hot showers and flush toilets. Camping in Arkansas state parks is limited to one 14-day stay within a 30-day period. For great Arkansas river camping and a unique experience, you can rent a fully-equipped tee pee in Petit Jean State Park, or an RV in Millwood, Lake Charles, Cane Creek.
While there are six national parks in the state, there is Arkansas camping
only in Hot Springs National Park and Buffalo River National Park in the Ouachita
Mountains. The latter park has Arkansas river camping at all the sites, as they
are all located right on the river. The former has 40 sites less than a mile
from the attractions of the popular town.
There are scores of campsites in Arkansas within the Ouachita National Forest,
which also includes the beautiful Talimena
Scenic Byway that extends into Oklahoma.
Two lakes in St. Francis National Forest in the Mississippi Delta region provide
more than forty sites, and give you easy access to the town of Helena in case
you want to attend the annual Arkansas
Blues and Heritage Festival. Scores more campsites in Arkansas will be found
in the Ozarks National Forest.
Army Corps of Engineers
Beginning in the early 1940s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed dams on numerous tributaries of the Mississippi River in Arkansas. The resulting large lakes brought vast new stretches of open water that altered the state's scenery and expanded its recreational opportunities. The nineteen recreation sites administered by the Corps today are scattered across the entire state, providing camping in Arkansas with fishing, boating, water skiing, hiking, and hunting opportunities.
There are ten National Wildlife Refuges in the state. Since these refuges were designed to protect the wildlife that inhabit the fragile ecosystems, Arkansas camping is allowed only in three of them, and that camping is strictly primitive. The sites are in Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge on the southern edge of the Ouachita Mountains; Pond Creek in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi River Delta; and White River National Wildlife Refuge in the southern Timberlands.