Best Campsites in Arkansas

by Amy Myers
best-arkansas-campsites
Photo by: Jumping Rocks/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When you’re state earns the nickname, “The Natural State,” you’re bound to have a multitude of gorgeous campsites with top-notch views and plenty of opportunities for adventure. The only question is, how can you choose the best spots? The good news is, you’ll never pick a bad spot to set up with these campsites in Arkansas.

Packed full of wilderness areas, mountain ranges, caves, rivers, and historical sites, the state is true to its nickname. Depending on your outdoor passion (biking, paddling or even sifting for precious gems), though, you’ll want a campsite that brings you right up to the action. That way, all you have to do is unzip your tent or walk out of your camper and head out for a day in the Natural State’s wildest parts.

Of course, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for activity by one of Arkansas’ many lake-front state parks and at the ever-popular hot springs, however, with these famous attractions also comes lots of crowds and perhaps less of a disconnect from the front country than you’d like. That’s why, for Outsider’s pick of best Arkansas campsites, we chose hidden gems (sometimes literally) to ensure that you get the most out of your camping experience.

Check out our picks.

Bull Shoals-White River State Park

For the trout chasers.

  • Location: 153 Dam Overlook Lane, Bull Shoals, AR 72619
  • Campground Contact: 870-445-3629
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily
  • Campground Website

Whether you carry spinners, spoons or jigs, you’ll want to bring it all to Bull Shoals-White River State Park. This is prime trout territory.

This state park gives anglers and campers access to both Bull Shoals Lake and White River, where there’s an abundance of rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout. And, even better, each year, park staff stocks these waters with 1.5 million rainbow trout. You can catch these beauties year-round, save for a few short periods in winter for spawning. With campsites just a cast away from the water, the state park calls anglers to its waters like a scaly siren.

Needless to say, this is a must-see and must-stay for anyone with a rod and reel.

Campground breakdown:

  • 63 full hook-up campsites: $36 per night
  • 30 partial hook-up sites: $23 per night
  • 20 non-electric tent sites: $14 per night
  • 3 Rent-an-RV sites: $90 per night
  • 1 group pavilion: $74 per night

Bull Shoals-White River amenities: bathhouse, basketball court, boat launch and dock, marina store, picnic areas and tables, campground, grills and firepits.

Reserve a Bull Shoals-White River campsite here.

Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area

For the white water paddlers.

  • Location: 1980 Hwy. 278 West, Wickes, AR 71973
  • Campground Contact: 870-385-2201
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily
  • Campground Website

Another fantastic water-front destination for Arkansas campsites is the Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area. However, instead of rods and reels, you may want to invest in a good paddle (or oar) and helmet. Because Cossatot Falls feeds into a rocky canyon, the landscape creates a channel of swift-moving water ideal for adventure. And when you add heavy rainfall to the mix, those intermediate twists and turns transform into Class-IV rapids, making it a playground for white water pros.

Even if you’re not into extreme sports that require training and a waiver, you’ll still find plenty to do at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area. There are 12 miles of the National Wild and Scenic Cossatot River shoreline and 20 miles of scenic trails. Not to mention, in the visitor center, there are even exhibits, a wildlife observation area and a gift shop that will help you remember the trip for a lifetime.

Campground breakdown:

  • 23 non-electric tent sites: $15 per night
  • 1 primitive group campground: $79 per night

The park’s campsites are spread across three different regions. In the Cossatot Falls Area, there are six; in the Sandbar Area, 15, and in the Ed Banks area, there are two.

Cossatot River amenities: restrooms, fire pits and grills, river access, picnic pavilions, visitor center exhibits and gift shop

All Cossatot River campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis and use a self-pay system at the park.

Crater of Diamonds State Park

For the gemstone junkies.

  • Location: 209 State Park Rd, Murfreesboro, AR 71958
  • Campground Contact: 870-285-3113
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily
  • Campground Website

We’ll bet you a bag of Outsider coffee that you can’t find another state park like Crater of Diamonds. Where else in the country can you grab a sifter and dive into a 37-acre field brimming with a variety of rocks, minerals and gemstones? With a shovel and a sturdy pair of boots, you can find treasures like yellow, white and brown diamonds, amethyst, garnet, jasper, agate, quartz and much more. Did we mention more than 33,000 diamonds have been found here?

In a truly unique atmosphere, Crater of Diamonds State Park combines an educational experience with all of the excitement that comes with camping. I mean, really, it puts the dino bone exhibit at a museum to shame. That’s why this must-see, must-go, must-everything is a perfect choice for families. Once you’ve collected your bounty, you can head to the wash station to clean your jewels before taking a tour through the Diamond Discovery Center. Here, you can learn about the area and how such a one-of-a-kind spot came to be.

And, if you need to tire out the little ones, even more, there’s a water park with lifeguards and slides that will help ensure a good night’s sleep. So long as the kids don’t have too many s’mores before bed.

Campground breakdown:

  • 47 electric campsites: $36 per night
  • 5 walk-to tent sites: $14 per night
  • 1 group pavilion: $100 per night

Crater of Diamonds amenities: restrooms with hot showers, playground, direct access to River Trail, diamond search area, Diamond Discovery Center, visitor center, gem cleanup station, campground restaurant and water park

Reserve a Crater of Diamonds campsite here.

Davidsonville Historical State Park

For the archaeology addicts.

  • Location: 8047 Hwy. 166 South, Pocahontas, AR 72455
  • Campground Contact: 870-892-4708
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily
  • Campground Website

Another equally educational and exciting Arkansas attraction is Davidsonville Historical State Park. As the park’s staff explained, “little of Davidsonville’s existence is evident above ground, meaning that there is still plenty that we are exploring and uncovering about the area today, including streets, foundations and artifacts. Among the most notable archaeological and historic finds are the “ghost structures” of Arkansas’ first post office and one of the earliest courthouses. Within the visitor center, there are also archaeological dig displays and historical displays, including a replica of an 1820s hunter-trapper flatboat and an audio tour to match.

With a few walking trails, you can also enjoy the lush, green scenery that surrounds this significant little town.

Campground breakdown:

  • 12 full hook-up campsites: $36 per night
  • 8 partial hook-up sites: $29 per night
  • 5 non-electric tent sites: $14 per night
  • 1 group pavilion: $74 per night

Davidsonville amenities: bathhouses, grills and fire rings, picnic tables, lantern hangers, tent pads, potable water, playgrounds, visitor and education centers, fishing pier, courtesy dock, and sanitation dump station

Reserve a Davidsonville campsite here.

Delta Heritage Trail State Park

For the rail-to-trail hikers and bikers.

  • Location: 5539 Hwy 49, Helena-West Helena, AR 72390
  • Campground Contact: 870-572-2352
  • Park Hours: Mar. to Nov. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily; Dec. to Feb. 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Mon. – Fri.), 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. (Sat. and Sun.)
  • Campground Website

With over 44.4 miles to its name already, the Delta Heritage Trail is on its way to becoming a staple part of Arkansas’ outdoor adventures. As it stands now, the heritage trail is a little more than halfway complete with the end goal of reaching 84.5 miles. Of the nearly 45 miles that stretch from Lexa to Elaine and Watson to Arkansas City, there are eight different trailheads, meaning you can explore as much or as little of the trail as possible.

In addition, the Barton and Arkansas City trailheads are in close proximity to the state park’s rustic campsites that allow you to turn your rail-to-trail experience into a bike-packing, overnight trip.

At the Barton trailhead and campsites, you’ll have access to bike rentals and a visitor center with a gift shop. And, if you want to add an extra bit of adventure to your trek, you can turn your bike ride into a Pedal & Paddle Tour. This tour has you pedaling 12 miles towards Lakeview and kayaking on Old Town Lake before pedaling back.

Meanwhile, at the Arkansas City trailhead, you can find a bicycle repair station and information about the trail and the area’s history. You can check out the trail map here.

Campground breakdown:

  • 7 non-electric tent campsites: $14 per night

Delta Heritage Trail amenities: tent pads, picnic areas, water fountain and spigot, group charcoal grill and individual standing grills and restrooms (no showers)

All Delta Heritage Trail campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Contact the park for availability.

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area

For the all-around adventurers.

  • Location: 20201 East Hwy. 12, Rogers, AR 72756
  • Campground Contact: 479-789-5000
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily
  • Campground Website

For those that just have too many hobbies to choose from, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area is the ideal environment for you… because when there are all-inclusive resorts, why shouldn’t there be all-inclusive adventures?

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area is home to a 54-mile multi-use trail system that accommodates hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians and is ADA-friendly. This trail system encompasses 12,000 acres of Ozark landscape that skirts the south end of Beaver Lake. On top of its trail-based activities, this state park is the only one in Arkansas that allows regulated hunting and even has a shooting range. Mind equals blown.

Even if you’re not the most experienced shooter or hunter, Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area hosts several workshops throughout the year. So, after a successful day of learning new techniques, you can hit the trails or just kick it at one of the park’s rustic campsites for a well-rounded visit to Arkansas’ wilderness.

Campground breakdown:

  • 5 primitive tent campsites: $14 per night
  • 6 hike-to/bike-to sites: $14 per night
  • 1 group education pavilion: $100 per night

Hobbs amenities: tent pads, fire rings and grills, lantern hooks, shooting range, restrooms (no showers) and direct trail access.

Reserve a Hobbs campsite here.

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