Arkansas is home to some fantastic state parks, each with its unique personality and charm. Whether you’re looking for hiking trails, camping spots, rustic cabins in the woods, or just a place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Arkansas, you won’t be disappointed exploring the impressive state park system.
And did you know that all of Arkansas’ State Park are free? So that means you don’t have to give up on a getaway. Here are ten incredible Arkansas State Parks to consider for your next vacation
1. Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Located near Little Rock, AR, this popular park is a great place to get outside and enjoy the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers.
This day-use park has 22 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. Pinnacle Mountain is an iconic Arkansas landmark towering over 1,011 feet in elevation. Park visitors can hike to the top of the mountain and enjoy 360-views of central Arkansas. This hike can be strenuous, depending on which trailhead you walk from, but it is worth the trek!
Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the day exploring Pinnacle Mountain.
2. Devil’s Den State Park
Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas is beautiful, with many hiking and nature trails to explore. Nestled in the Ozark National Forest within the Ozark Mountains, the park is known for its dramatic cliff formations and geology. This includes the namesake Devil’s Den, as well as its lush forests and rushing streams.
The park is situated on the outskirts of Fort Smith, making it perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway. There are also plenty of park cabins, camping, and RV facilities with full hookups available if you want to stay overnight.
If you love hiking, hike the Devil’s Den Trail to a majestic waterfall and Yellow Rock Trail to the iconic bluff overlook. In addition, the park is home to a nationally recognized mountain biking trail system.
3. Mount Magazine State Park
Known for being home to the highest mountain in Arkansas, Signal Hill, Mount Magazine State Park features stunning views, various hiking trails, and camping opportunities. No worries if camping isn’t your style; visitors can stay at a gorgeous lodge overlooking the Ouachita National Forest.
Be sure to catch a sunset at Cameron Bluff Overlook or hike the rugged and wild North Rim Trail to Dill Point.
The park is near Paris, Arkansas, which makes for a fun stop if you like everything, Paris, France. The city recreated a version of the Paris Lovelock Bridge in Europe by creating its own Lovelock Fence. So bring your lock and make a wish during your next road trip through Arkansas!
4. Lake Fort Smith State Park
Nestled in the Boston Mountains of the Ozark Plateau and tucked along the banks of Fort Smith Lake, this state park is the perfect place to hike, camp, and kayak. There are also beautiful and fully equipped country cabin rentals if you’re not into camping.
There are many great things to do at Lake Fort Smith State Park, like rent kayaks, tour the Visitor Center, and hit the trails to hike or mountain bike. Keep in mind that swimming is not allowed at the lake since it provides a public drinking water supply. So, plan an epic adventure but don’t be disappointed if you’re planning on getting in the water because it is not allowed.
5. Mount Nebo State Park
Sitting atop a mountain ridge overlooking Russellville, Mount Nebo State Park provides stunning views of the mountainous landscape and Lake Dardanelle below. Plenty of activities are available here, from hiking and biking to nature watching.
Rustic-style cabins are available to rent. Camping is also popular here, with campsites on top of the mountain overlooking the valley below.
See what makes Mount Nebo State Park unique. It has plenty of history and culture, and you can learn about the early settlers. There are also a few hiking trails with incredible masonry constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s.
6. Petit Jean State Park
Known for being Arkansas’ first state park, tucked away on Petit Jean Mountain, visitors can explore remarkable geological wonders, caves, waterfalls, epic overlooks, and a pristine lake. There is a beautiful lodge, cabins, and multiple camping areas to enjoy a weekend in nature. Visitors can even rent yurts overlooking the lake!
If you love hiking, trek to Seven Hollows, the Rock House Cave, and Bear Cave. Hikers are sure to be mesmerized by the rock formations and scenic trails at Petit Jean. You can even spot a pictograph inside the Rock House Cave. Cedar Falls is the iconic waterfall here. Plan ahead if you want to visit because the hike to the base of Cedar Falls is on the strenuous side.
Hiking, fishing, biking, canoeing, and camping are just a few of the things you can do at Petit Jean State Park. Don’t miss checking out this secluded park if you’re looking for a getaway destination off the beaten path.
7. Hobbs State Park
Hobbs is the largest state park in Arkansas. Visitors can enjoy 54 miles of trails open to hikers, mountain bikers, and folks horseback riding at this day-use park. There are even a handful of primitive mountain bike-in campsites – some of the first of this kind of backcountry camping in northwest Arkansas!
Soak in the views of Beaver Lake and stop by the Visitor Center to learn more about the local landscape and history during your visit. Hobbs is also a conservation area and is the only state park in Arkansas where regulated hunting is allowed.
8. Lake Ouachita State Park
Lake Ouachita State Park is recognized as one of the clearest lakes in the Ouachitas, making it an excellent place for water sports and boating. Bring your kayak, canoe, or boat to paddle, tour, or fish in the pristine waters surrounded by the Ouachita Mountains.
The park has excellent camping facilities, a marina, and a few trails to explore. The area is steeped with history and lore on natural healing springs, including the historic Three Sisters Springs.
In addition, Lake Ouachita is located roughly 30 minutes from Hot Springs, Arkansas, home to Hot Springs National Park, adding to the perfect weekend getaway to the area. Make time to visit Bathhouse Row, where visitors can learn more about the local history and healing springs. You can even get a microbrew or root beer brewed from the healing spring water at Superior Bathhouse.
9. Crater of Diamonds State Park
Did you know you can mine for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park? It is the only public diamond mine in the United States. And guess what? Visitors can keep what they find! It is open year-round and has a small fee to enter and mine. Visitors can also rent mining equipment for a small fee.
Besides mining fields, the park has a beautiful, shaded campground area nestled under tall pines.
For a unique outdoor experience and to test your luck, visit Crater of Diamonds, camp, and explore the interpretive trails. It is a fun destination for the whole family.
10. Bull Shoals-White River State Park
See why locals love Bull Shoals, one of the best-kept secrets in Arkansas. Located along the White River and Bull Shoals Lake shores, White River State Park is an angler’s dream and outdoor paradise.
Fishing, camping, kayaking, and hiking are some of the best things to do here – not to mention the park is known for its impressive interpretive visitor exhibit hall. The park is touted as having some of the best trout fishing in the state. If you enjoy birding, keep your eyes peeled for the resident Bald Eagles.
There’s Even More Stunning State Parks in Arkansas
The Arkansas State Park system has 52 parks for visitors to enjoy. Considering over 50 state parks, Arkansas is full of natural beauty waiting to be explored. With this article covering ten of the best, consider exploring Lake Catherine State Park, Mammoth Spring, the Ozark Folk Center, Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Mississippi River State Park, Withrow Springs, and many more.
Though Arkansas may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of outdoor adventure, it boasts a variety of impressive state parks perfect for hikers, campers, and anglers year-round.
More From Planner at Heart
- 20 Cheap Travel Destinations Across America For Fun-Filled Vacations
- 18 Driveable Vacation Spots and Places To Visit in The US Within 12 Hours For Most Americans
- 10 of the Best Things to Do in Chattanooga with Kids
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.