Arkansas is the quintessential retreat for recreational vehicle owners who want to get away from it all – whether in a mountain setting, beside streams, on the lakeshore or in the heart of wine country; after all, this is The Natural State. But those who enjoy city nightlife, museums, spa treatments, roller coasters, historic architecture, shopping, golf and fine dining have plenty of escapes to choose from as well. A full list of RV facilities, some in the city and some along lakeshores, can be found at www.Arkansas.com/places-to-stay/campgrounds-rvs.
RVing at The Natural State’s Spa Cities
Those in RVs who plan to stay in Hot Springs won’t quickly run out of things to do. The city is home to a national park, bathhouses, state parks, lakes, a leading Thoroughbred racetrack, a 210-acre botanical garden, the Mid-America Science Museum, a thriving arts scene, mountain biking and hiking trails, a historic baseball trail, a plethora of restaurants, live music and magic shows, and a combination theme and water park.
RVers can see more of the city with a vehicle in tow; however, some large parking lots in the downtown area accommodate RVs. Travelers can then see more of Hot Springs, including the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, reached by a winding road difficult for bigger rigs to maneuver.
Local RV Park: Hot Springs KOA has deluxe pull-through sites with a maximum length of 70 feet, shaded back-in sites, and 50-amp services available. Pavilion and meeting room space accommodate large groups, and cabins present a haven for additional guests. Open all year, the KOA takes reservations online at www.KOA.com/campgrounds/hot-springs-national-park. For toll-free reservations, call 800-562-5903. For general information, phone 501-624-5912.
Arkansas’s other spa city, Eureka Springs, is a quaint small town nestled in the Ozark Mountains and was named one of a “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The city is home to The Great Passion Play, which is the nation’s most attended outdoor drama depicting the last week of Christ’s life on Earth.
Only minutes from the play, Eureka’s downtown district is comprised of unique boutiques full of antiques, fine art, contemporary and vintage clothing, handmade crafts, restaurants and more. The best way for RVers to see the sites is via the city trolley – RVs are not allowed on the city’s narrow and twisty historic loop.
Outdoor opportunities abound with nearby rivers for fishing and canoeing, and Beaver Lake is ideal for swimming and water sports. The area is also popular for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Local RV Park: Wanderlust RV Park, a Good Sam Park in Eureka Springs, offers 90 full-hookup sites, 57 of which are pull-through and 41 have 50 amps. In addition to restrooms, showers and laundry facilities, amenities include a swimming pool, pavilions, cabins, two social halls for groups and modem hookup. Open year round, Wanderlust information can be found at www.WanderlustRV.com or by calling (479) 253-7385. Wanderlust is also a city trolley stop. For more information about Eureka Springs, call 1-800-6EUREKA or visit www.EurekaSprings.org.
Riverside RV Respites
The nation’s first national river (1972), the Buffalo River flows roughly 135 miles, includes nearly 95,000 acres of public land along its corridor, and descends nearly 2,000 feet through layers of sandstone, limestone and chert. Hidden away, ready for discovery, are numerous geologic marvels – limestone bluffs, springs, caves, waterfalls, natural bridges and box-like canyons, where trails are abundant. While spring and early summer are the prime floating times, the lower section of the Buffalo can be floated year-round. Numerous outfitters service the river.
Travel in Buffalo River Country is definitely for the more adventurous RVer. While the two-lane highways are manageable and in good condition, they can be steep and curvy and make for slower travel. A vehicle in tow is needed to take full advantage of the scenic river valley. Most river access points are located off dirt roads, some with steep grades. For more information, phone (870) 741-5443 or visit www.NPS.gov/buff.
Local RV Parks: Buffalo Point and Tyler Bend are the two most developed campgrounds on the Buffalo National River. Buffalo Point has 79 sites with water and electricity hookups. No pull-through sites are available, and there are a limited number of spots for big rigs. Tyler Bend has 28 sites with community water available, but no water or electricity hookups. Both campgrounds have modern restrooms with hot showers and dump stations. Buffalo Point is on a national reservation system (www.ReserveUSA.com; 1-877-444-6777). For more information on Buffalo Point, contact the Ranger Station at (870) 449-4311 or for Tyler Bend phone (870) 439-2502.
In the north-central Ozarks, the White and North Fork rivers and Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are the main attractions. Trout fishing below U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-built dams is a major draw. Full-service marinas and guide services are available. In towns throughout this area, numerous other campgrounds as well as resorts on rivers or lakes accommodate the RV traveler. For more information on this region, phone 870-404-2741 or visit www.OzarkMountainRegion.com.
Local RV Park: Bull Shoals-White River State Park features 106 campsites, 60 of which are located on the river bank. Most sites have water and electricity hookups. The park has a dump station and two pull-through sites. The length of sites range from 38 feet to 70 feet. All of the sites can be reserved, which is advisable for those traveling from June through October. Year-round interpretive programs are offered and facilities include picnic areas, pavilions, playgrounds and trails. A trout dock furnishes boat, motor and canoe rentals, supplies, equipment and gifts. Contact: 870-445-3629.
Arkansas is unique in offering popular urban options near its capital city of Little Rock as well.
Local RV Park: Downtown Riverside RV Park is located alongside the Arkansas River in downtown North Little Rock. With 61 RV-only sites with 50-amp electricity, water and sewer, this park situated at the head of the Arkansas River Trail—an 88-mile loop connecting four Central Arkansas cities and 38 parks across 5,000 acres of parkland—is a fantastic base from which to explore Little Rock, North Little Rock and beyond on foot or on wheels (four or two; bike rentals are available nearby). This gated facility with views of the capital city’s skyline offers a pavilion, clubhouse, fully equipped restrooms and free WiFi access; a boat ramp is just next door to the park. For more information, call 501-340-5312 or visit www.DowntownRiversideRVPark.com.
Exploring Mountain Views
Also located in the north-central Ozarks, the Ozark Folk Center State Park is less than a mile from downtown Mountain View, a small, quaint town that has a variety of music shows, interesting shops, restaurants, plus impromptu folk music gatherings on the downtown square and yearly festivals. The Ozark Folk Center is a “living museum” of traditional pioneer skills, such as furniture making, quilting, blacksmithing, tintype photography, woodcarving and other craft demonstrations, and concerts with songs and instruments from America’s past are performed in the park’s 1,000-seat theater. The center also offers a restaurant, lodge, conference center, visitor center and gift shop.
Local RV Park: Ozark RV Park in Mountain View has 73 sites, rental cabins, a bathhouse, restrooms, laundry facilities and pavilions situated on more than 10 acres. It offers full and partial hookups as well as primitive camping. A Good Sam Park and member of Woodall’s, Ozark RV is open March 1-Dec. 1. For more information, phone 870-269-2542 or visit www.OzarkRVPark.com.
Numerous RV parks service this area, from one located two blocks from the town square to another in the Sylamore Creek recreational area of the Ozark National Forest. Additional RV campgrounds are listed on the Mountain View website, www.YourPlaceInTheMountains.com.
With 2,658 acres of natural beauty for enjoying such activities as boating, swimming and fishing plus 20 miles of hiking trails to explore caves and waterfalls, Petit Jean State Park, located roughly an hour northwest of Little Rock, is a perfect place to roll in and stay for a spell.
Local RV Park: Of Petit Jean State Park’s 125 campsites, 26 are pull-through; 35 sites have 30 and 50 amp electrical, water and sewer; and 90 sites have 30 amp electrical and water hookups. The main campground is divided into four lakeside or wooded areas, each of which is accessible and has a modern bathhouse. Group camping sites are also available. If you feel like dining out, Mather Lodge—the only Civilian Conservation Corps lodge in the state—offers a full menu in the dining room with a panoramic view over the park. For more information call 501-727-5441; reservation may be made online at www.PetitJeanStatePark.com.
Sampling Arkansas’s Wine Country
Near Altus in the Arkansas River Valley, four wineries offer free tours, wine tastings and special events: Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, Chateau Aux Arc, Mount Bethel Winery, and Post Familie Winery. Visitors to the area can also learn more about the region’s coal mining history at the Altus Heritage House Museum. In nearby Paris, Cowie Wine Cellars also offers tours and tastings and is home to the Arkansas Historic Wine Museum. All of the wineries have parking areas to accommodate the RV traveler.
On the Altus downtown square, visitors find restaurants, a coal miners’ memorial, a city park, and gift, craft, antique and flower shops. RV drivers can easily maneuver Altus’s wide downtown streets, where parallel parking is geared toward even large RVs. For more information, contact the Altus Chamber of Commerce at 479-468-4191.
Local RV Park: Wiederkehr Village RV Park at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars has about 20 sites with water and electrical hookups. Restroom facilities do not include hot showers and the park has no dump station. The park is within walking distance of the winery, cellars, vineyards and the famous Weinkeller Restaurant. For more information, phone 1-800-622-WINE or visit www.WiederkehrWines.com.
In Search of Gems
In southwest Arkansas near Murfreesboro, the Crater of Diamonds State Park is the world’s only site where, for a small fee, anyone can dig for diamonds and keep what they find. The park’s visitor center and Diamond Discovery Center offer exhibits giving tips on diamond hunting, a display of diamonds in the rough, and exhibits detailing the site’s history and geology. Mining tools are also available to rent. Along with the search area, the park also has picnic sites, trails, and the seasonally open Diamond Springs Water Park.
Local RV Park: Crater of Diamonds offers 47 full RV sites with water, sewer and electricity hookups. The park also has five primitive tent sites. There are no pull-through sites, but there are several sites more than 50 feet long. The park is wheelchair accessible, including an easy, paved hiking trail (about one-third mile) that leads to the Little Missouri River. The park’s restaurant is open during the summer. Additional RV camping is available about eight miles away at Lake Greeson. For more information, contact the park at (870) 285-3113 or visit www.CraterOfDiamondsStatePark.com.
In Arkansas’s Lower Delta, you’ll find RVing spots along one of the area’s most spectacular bodies of water, abounding with activities ranging from bird watching to fishing to water sports fun. Located in the flat Delta lands of southeastern Arkansas, Lake Chicot is a true natural wonder. A 20-mile-long former main channel of the Mississippi River, it is the biggest oxbow lake in North America and Arkansas’s largest natural lake. Lake Chicot offers some of the most amazing sunsets around, and has become a favorite spot for amateur photographers. Lake Village is also home to Lakeport Plantation, the last remaining antebellum house on the Mississippi River in Arkansas that hasn’t been extensively altered. And no trip to Lake Village is complete without a visit to Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales for a sample of the homemade tamales or Ms. Rhoda’s yummy pies.
Local RV Park: Lake Chicot State Park offers 122 campsites (28 Class AAA, 16 Class AA, 11 Class A, and 67 Class B including several sites with Class C options) nestled in a pecan grove. The park also offers 14 cabins with kitchens (many with fireplace, lake view patio and fishing dock), a swimming pool (open in summer), picnicking, standard pavilions (screened), laundry and playground. The store/marina offers food, gifts, fuel and bait for sale, as well as boats, motors and water craft to rent during your stay. The nearby visitor center features interpretive exhibits that tell of the area’s history and natural resources, as well as bicycles you can rent to explore the area. For more information, log on to www.ArkansasStateParks.com/lakechicot or phone 870-265-5480.
In Arkansas’s Upper Delta, you’ll find fun for the entire family. Whether it’s an adult getaway or a family vacation, the area offers something for everyone. In West Memphis, adults can enjoy a night of great food and greyhound racing at Southland Park Gaming and Racing. After dinner at the Bourbon Street Steakhouse or Sammy Hagar’s Red Rocker Bar and Grill, watch and wager on live greyhound racing. Love music? Check out Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in nearby Dyess. Visit DyessCash.AState.edu or call 870-764-CASH (2274) for details.
Local RV Park: Tom Sawyer’s Mississippi River RV Park in West Memphis offers 100 RV spots, along with tent camping, a bathhouse, a tree house for the younger campers, nature trails, free wi-fi, and free laundry. Twenty-one of the RV spots are pull-thrus, specifically for 5th wheels campers. Oh, and a great view of the Mighty Mississippi River! Check out the RV park at www.TomSawyersRVPark.com or give them a call them at 870-735-9770.
NOTE: More information on camping or RVing in The Natural State is available at www.Arkansas.com.