Summer isn’t just a season — it’s a state of mind. And Arkansas is the perfect place to explore that sun-kissed bliss of nights around a campfire, hair drying from a jump in the lake, making gooey s’mores feel. Explore the following state parks to find where you should kick your heels up for the warm months.
1. Lake Chicot State Park
The largest natural lake in The Natural State is calling your name. Spend your dog days on the largest oxbow lake in North America, boating around the sparkling water (rentals by reservation only), feeling the warm rays of sun on your skin (don’t forget sunscreen, though!). Since the park is located near the Mississippi River, it is one of the largest flyways in the country, meaning it is ideal for birding. Stay over in a cabin or campsite and take a lake or levee tour to learn more about the area.
2. Millwood State Park
Grab your tackle box — this 29,250-acre loch is the place in Arkansas for bass fishing. Twist and turn through submerged timber, marshes and oxbow cutoffs to hunt for a hefty fish (catfish and crappie also call the lake home). Ornithologists rejoice! The park is an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area as well, with sightings of more than 300 of the state’s 400 species. Bring your bicycle to ride over some trails and rest your head at a campsite — there are 45 to choose from.
3. Jacksonport State Park
Located at the confluence of the White and Black rivers, Jacksonport saw the arrival of steamboats and the occupation of both the Union and the Confederacy. Pop by the restored 1872 red-brick, Second-Empire county courthouse to learn about this important historical site. Once you’ve got a fun fact or two to share with your friends, head to the sandy swimming beach or walk along the banks of the White River on the half-mile Tunstall Riverwalk. Book your campsite and stargaze as you drift off.
4. Withrow Springs State Park
786 acres of pristine Ozark beauty abound at Withrow. The area serves as a put-in point on a north-flowing Class I stream (floatable through mid-June). The gentle waters are ideal for a relaxin’, floatin’, or fishin’ trip. Kayaks and canoes are available to rent. If a day junket is your style, pack a picnic and enjoy it on the rippling waters of a rock-strewn creek — it’s incredibly peaceful. Or slumber the night away at a campsite so you can be a sunrise hiker.
5. Daisy State Park
Nestled in the breathtaking Ouachita Mountains and situated on Lake Greeson, Daisy is a top spot for fishing and kayaking. Slather on some SPF 50 and go on a lake tour to see impressive rock formations. Cast a line and catch a trout in the Little Missouri River or bring your best tube (maybe the doughnut one?) and float down the waterway. Feeling a more fast-paced activity? If you have an ATV, you can hop on it and motor along the Bear Cycle Trail. Get your beauty rest in one of the YURTs or reserve a campsite (100 spots in varying classes).