When I was growing up, my family had a small, home daycare center. Not only did this keep us busy from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday-Friday; it also limited our vacation time to weekend trips to nearby campgrounds. Luckily, I grew up in Arkansas, the Natural State where beautiful state parks are plentiful. We had family living in Hot Springs, Arkansas, so most of our camping trips were at the three lakes that surround that city: Lake Catherine, Lake DeGray, and Lake Ouachita. For Joe’s first camping trip in the Hot Springs area, I wanted him to experience one of the most beautiful, clearest lakes in North America, Lake Ouachita.
Why You Should Go Camping at Lake Ouachita State Park
Lake Ouachita (Pronounced WAH-shi-tah), was created around 1953 by the damming of the Ouachita River. This reservoir created Lake Ouachita, the largest lake in Arkansas all contained entirely within the state. This lake is huge! Not Great Lakes huge, but with over 690 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of open water area for kayaking, boating, water skiing and bass fishing by quiet coves. The water is so clear, that scuba divers come from all over the country to see the abundance of freshwater fish. Lake Ouachita also has rare jellyfish (non-stinging) and sponges found in only a handful of the cleanest freshwater lakes.
We came for the nice campsites.
Arkansas has always prided itself in its beautiful state parks. Lake Ouachita is no exception. It’s gorgeous. You could tell that park maintenance is a high priority because of the frequent trash removal and shoreline cleanups we observed.
Quiet at Night
We loved how quiet the campsite was especially at night. The camper next to us explained that the ranger is pretty good about making sure things are quiet during sleeping hours. If a group is too loud, he’ll give a polite warning. If they continue to keep their neighbors awake, they will be warned again with the threat of having to pack up and leave. For us, camping is a time to catch up on sleep, talk, and totally chill out. We’re thankful for enforced quiet hours! Want to be a polite camper? Read 7 “Good Camping” Neighbor Dos and Don’ts.
Active During the Day
There is wide variety of activities to do during the day at Lake Ouachita State Park. We saw plenty of kids swimming, canoeing and kayaking. Lots of fishermen were coming in and out of the marina. Joe was happy to find a good mountain bike trail right next to our campground. I was content to sit by the campfire and get caught up on my reading and relaxation!
Hot Springs National Park is close by!
Having grown up visiting grandparents (both sets) in Hot Springs, I know I’m biased, but Hot Springs has something for everyone! There’s an amusement park for the kids, horse racing for the adults, and Garvan Gardens one of the most beautiful botanical gardens you can imagine. In fact, Garvan Gardens is where Joe and I fell in love! Most notably, Hot Springs is known for its one million gallons of hot mineral waters (142 degree fahrenheit) that flow out of its mountainside. You can still get a hot bath in one of the restored bath houses. There’s even a Superior Bathhouse brewery that uses the mineral water to naturally brew its beer.
Within our campground is the “Three Sisters” spring. The originally homesteaders touted the waters’ healing properties and eventually a resort was built on the site for people to come and get restorative “medicine”.
Have you ever been to a spa town like Hot Springs, Arkansas? Please share by commenting below! We’d love to hear about any campgrounds to check out. Keep up with all of our travel, camping, and cycling tips by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest (lots of camping pins). Leave us your email (blue box below the post) to subscribe to our weekly newsletter and never miss a post!