The Best of DeGray State Park
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind getaway in Arkansas, consider this: DeGray Lake Resort State Park near Bismarck is Arkansas’s only resort state park. The park’s lodge occupies its own island. And the lake? It’s so clear, it belongs to a special class of waterways known as Arkansas’s Diamond Lakes. But you’ll want to pack more than a bathing suit—there’s more to do at this park than you might expect.
Check In To Paradise
Amenities are rich at DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge. Yet, the hands-down favorite is how the lodge offers the best of both worlds. Think of it this way: you’ll appreciate the lodge’s views of sparkling DeGray Lake and the distant Ouachita Mountains. You’ll take advantage of the world of recreation just outside your door. But you aren’t going to thumb your nose at your room’s flat-screen television or complimentary Wi-Fi. Nor will you mind dining or relaxing with a drink in the onsite Shoreline Restaurant, or accessing the lodge’s heated swimming pool and hot tub.
Test the Waters
Remember that world of recreation that awaits outside the lodge? It starts with 14,000-acre DeGray Lake, created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Caddo River. If you’re traveling with your own craft, you’ll find a launch and convenient parking. If not, make your way to the park’s full-service marina. In season, guided boat tours and rentals—from kayaks and pedal-boats to flat-bottom motorboats, party barges and ski boats—are available. Slips and fuel are on-hand for guests who bring their own craft.
In warm weather, the lake comes to life with people water-skiing and wakeboarding, sailing, paddling and simply tooling around by boat. A beach with picnic tables and a designated area for swimming is popular with families. You may also see snorkelers and divers in the lake’s crystal-clear waters. Year ’round, the water calls to anglers seeking hybrid striped bass, walleye, crappie and catfish. Conveniently, the marina doubles as a bait-and-tackle shop.
Golf a Round
DeGray Lake Resort State Park is also home to an 18-hole championship public golf course. Fittingly, water factors in here, too: the front nine is expansive, though hidden water hazards kick up the challenge. The back nine weaves through woodlands, motivating careful shots amid the pretty scene. Improve your game on the adjacent driving range and practice green, or duck into the onsite pro shop to book a lesson with the course’s PGA professional. The shop rents clubs, too.
If disc golf is your game, head to the park’s visitor center. Loaner sets, and discs for purchase, are available inside, and the front and back nine of this free public course begin here. The course meanders through forests and fields, over hills and streams, and traces the northern shore of DeGray Lake, but it was designed with all skill levels in mind—and ample benches for time-outs to take in the scenery.
Bike Iron Mountain
On the lake’s southern shore, Iron Mountain Recreation Area beckons as a side-trip for guests of DeGray Lake Resort State Park, especially for mountain bikers. The 24 miles of trail that off-road cyclists discover here host regular adventure races, so expect well-maintained single-track you can really flow on. Intermittent rock gardens add some technicality, but most riders come away remembering the glittering lake views and relatively easy climbs that pay off with fun descents.