Arkansas is the perfect destination for a vacation on the water, with more than 600,000 acres of lakes and 9,000 miles of rivers and streams. The State Parks of Arkansas offer access to 27 lakes and 14 rivers. Fish quiet float streams perfect for smallmouth bass or lakes renowned as largemouth bass hot spots. Experience some of the state’s best crappie, catfish and bream fishing or cast your lines in mid-America’s premier trout stream. Whether you pilot a party barge, enjoy exploring coves in your fishing boat, or pull skiers behind your powerboat, Arkansas’s waters offer you diverse recreational opportunities.
So go waterskiing or enjoy other watersports on some of the cleanest lakes in the country, view eagles and other wildlife on a lake cruise, discover the joy of Arkansas boat rentals and enjoy a day on the lake, or enjoy quiet canoe or kayak trips through bottomlands teeming with wildlife.
For those looking for the best boating vacation in Arkansas, you will be delighted with the Arkansas boating opportunities at Bull Shoals-White River State Park, with both the lake and river available for
boating, fishing, and your favorite water sports. Cast your line in the cool, clear waters of the renowned White River where record rainbow and brown trout have been caught. At 45,440 acres, Bull Shoals Lake is Arkansas's largest man-made lake with waters that stretch across far north central Arkansas and across the border into Missouri.
Cane Creek Lake is a 1,675-acre fishing lake. Its shallow, timber filled waters provide excellent habitat for warm-water fish including bass, crappie, sunfish, and bream. Catfish are also plentiful in the lake.
This lake was built by the Arkansas Game and Fish in 1987 on the edge of two of Arkansas's natural divisions. Here, the West Gulf Coastal Plain of southern Arkansas and the Mississippi Alluvial Plain of eastern Arkansas meet. Uniquely, Cane Creek State Park is in the rolling woodlands of the Coastal Plain, and the lake it accesses is a timbered Delta lake in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Boaters should take caution in this tree stump-filled lake. Fishing boats,canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the park visitor center. Just across Cane Creek Lake, boaters can also enjoy the waters of Bayou Bartholomew, the world's longest bayou.
Daisy State Park is located on 7,000-acre Lake Greeson in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Formed by Narrows Dam on the Little Missouri River, this lake in southwest Arkansas is one of the clearest
lakes in Arkansas. Boating is an excellent way to enjoy Lake Greeson because it lacks excess underwater obstacles such as stumps and standing timber. Whether you are skiing behind a ski boat, or just taking a leisurely cruise around the lake on a party barge, you are guaranteed to have a good time on these waters. At Daisy State Park, the park staff offers many opportunities to enjoy the lake such as barge tours and snorkeling adventures.
Surrounded by the beauty of the Ouachita Mountain foothills, 13,800-acre DeGray Lake is a water sports paradise formed by a dam on the Caddo River. Enjoy pleasure boating and sailing on the beautiful, clear
water of this, one of the five Diamond Lakes in southwest Arkansas. DeGray Lake Resort State Park, nestled on the north shore, offers a 132-slip, full-service marina, that is open throughout the year. Here you can purchase supplies, find boat rentals in Arkansas, party barges, canoes, kayaks, and jet skis. Free boat launching is available at several locations in the park.
In the 1800s, steamboats made Jacksonport a thriving river port. Stories of this historic river port are shared in the 1872 Jackson County Courthouse that is Jacksonport State Park's dominant feature. The
park's launch ramp provides access to the White River. Boats of nearly all shapes and sizes are seen on the White River, as boaters either fish or just enjoy the waters. The river depth fluctuates, so boaters should be cautious during low water periods.
Lake Catherine was created on the Ouachita River when the Arkansas Power and Light Co. (now Entergy Corporation) completed construction of Remmel Dam in 1924 as the state's first major hydroelectric facility.
Though 11 miles long, the lake covers only 1,940 nestled along narrow valleys of the Ouachita Mountains stretching from Remmel Dam to Carpenter Dam, the hydroelectric dam that forms Lake Hamilton. At its widest point, the lake is only one mile across. Boaters should take caution around the base of Carpenter Dam due to the shallow waters in that area. There are no motor limitations on Lake Catherine. Lake Catherine State Park, located on the lower end of the lake, offers a free boat ramp with parking. Boat rentals in Arkansas, including bass boats and pontoons, can be found at the park's marina.
The largest oxbow lake in North American, and Arkansas's largest natural lake, Lake Chicot offers over 20 miles of water for recreational Arkansas boating including water skis, jet skis, and pontoon boats. This
oxbow was cut off centuries ago from the Mississippi River when it changed course. Lake Chicot State Park is on the lake's north end. Here, fishing boats (with or without motors), kayaks, and pedal boats can be rented at the park marina. The park staff offers several lake tours to help you experience Lake Chicot. The Swamp Tour is the park's signature barge tour. Join a park interpreter for a glimpse into the mysterious life found in the swamp. Whether you are interested in birding, the making of the swamp, or finding out about the American lotus, this tour is for you. Or perhaps enjoy a leisurely tour around the northern part of Lake Chicot concluding with a spectacular view of the sunset. Discover how Lake Chicot once housed pirates, what it means to be located in the Mississippi Flyway, and why the view of the sunset is better from the party barge.
Lake Dardanelle is a sprawling 34,300-acre reservoir on the Arkansas River. This boaters' paradise is ideal for fishing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, sailing, and riding personal watercraft. The lake is
relatively shallow with an average of only 10 feet, but is 25-30 feet deep in most areas near Lake Dardanelle State Park. The lake is formed by the damming of the Arkansas River which provides a variety of habitat and shoreline from low, soft, sloping clay riverbank to high, colorful, sandstone cliffs. There are three boat ramps located in the state park, one on the Yell County side and two in the main park n Pope County at Russellville. A short boat ride will take you to any one of several scenic bays; Dardanelle Cove, Delaware Bay, Piney Bay, or Shoal Bay. Solo and tandem kayaks can be rented at the park. Caution should be used when navigating in the river channel. Large river barges navigate the Arkansas River regularly and the river current can be swift in high water.
Combining the waters of what used to be two lakes, Lake Fort Smith and Lake Shepherd Springs, is the new, enlarged 1,940-acre Lake Fort Smith. Since this lake is the municipal water supply the City of Fort
Smith, no swimming, skiing or the use of personal water craft is allowed on these waters. However, there are no motor restrictions for boats on the lake at this time. Lake Fort Smith is excellent for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. The park marina offers rental fishing boats, canoes, kayaks and a party barge. Live bait and other fishing supplies as well as ice, drinks and snacks can be purchased at the marina (no retail gas sales are available here at this time). There is a free two-lane boat launch ramp located at the end of marina road just around the curve from the marina and adjacent to the day use area. The park interpretive staff offer canoe, kayak and barge tours around the lake at various times throughout the year.
Lake Ouachita is recognized as one of Arkansas's premier lake destinations with over 40,000 surface acres of water. Created when Blakely Dam impounded the waters of the Ouachita River near Hot Springs, the lake
is virtually surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and has one of Arkansas's most pristine shorelines at close to 975 miles. Known for its scenic beauty and clear waters, Lake Ouachita is a favorite of boating enthusiasts. The average depth of Lake Ouachita is 50 feet with some areas reaching depths of 200 feet; although, boaters should take caution in shallow areas and standing timber in some parts of this lake. With vast stretches of open water, sailors often enjoy a day of sailing these waters. Lake Ouachita State Park, at the eastern end of the lake, offers access to the lake at two free boat launches in the park. Boat rentals in Arkansas are available at the park marina which is open throughout the year. Visitors might also enjoy a barge tour with a park interpreter to explore the history, geology and wildlife found at Lake Ouachita.
The natural beauty of Crowley's Ridge provides the scenic backdrop for this lake that provides great boating opportunities. At 640 acres, Lake Poinsett is the largest lake on Crowley’s Ridge, a landform of
rolling hills that rises a few hundred feet and stretches 200 miles from Helena, Arkansas, up to southeast Missouri. These peaceful waters are perfect for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or wildlife watching. Boaters should take caution in Lake Poinsett’s shallow northern end. Lake Poinsett State Park, situated on the western side of the lake, offers a free launch ramp with parking. Fishing boats (no motors), canoes and kayaks can be rented at the park.
Millwood is one of the renowned fishing lakes in Arkansas. Much of its 29,000 acres are flooded timber, providing exceptional cover for fish. Boat lanes lead the way through the timbered waters, and there are
5,000 acres of open water near the dam. The average depth of the lake is only six to eight feet. Boaters should be warned that the shallow waters of Millwood Lake can become rough and potentially dangerous on windy days, and storms on the lake can appear quickly. Millwood State Park is located on the southeastern corner of the lake, and offers two free boat ramps with parking. Fishing boats with motors, canoes and kayaks can be rented at the park marina.
This Arkansas state park located within the environs of the St. Francis National Forest is Arkansas's only state park with access to the Mississippi River. This access is located at the St. Francis River boat
ramp located on the Great River Road. The Mississippi River is a short motor down the St. Francis to where the two rivers converge. This access may be closed during times of high water. Extreme caution should be taken when accessing the mouth of the St. Francis and the Mississippi River as currents are variable in these areas and boating can be hazardous.
Bear Creek Lake, one of the largest lakes on Crowley's Ridge, offers 625 acres of waters surrounded by the St. Francis National Forest. Paddling enthusiasts and other small craft will enjoy the scenic beauty of this area as you explore the many small coves and inlets that the ridge creates. The boat ramp is located off Ark. 44 on the east side of the dam. [NOTE: Here on Bear Creek Lake there is a 10 hp limit on all boats.]
Storm Creek Lake is a 420-acre lake here on Crowley's Ridge. The St. Francis National Forest completely surrounds the lake, making it a peaceful, quite retreat. Boating is accessed on the south side of the dam and offers anglers a chance to get into the hidden reaches of the lake. There is a 10 hp limit on all boats using the lake.
Mississippi River State Park has been established by Arkansas State Parks on national forest lands within the St. Francis National Forest through a Special Use Permit from the U.S. Forest Service.
One of the best kept secrets in south Arkansas is found about 25 miles northeast of El Dorado and about 30 miles southwest of Warren off Highway 63. At this spot three counties and three bodies of water merge
together on the doorstep of Moro Bay State Park. Here at the confluence of Moro Bay, the Ouachita River and Raymond Lake, is a boating and fishing paradise. Only a quarter of a mile upstream from the state park launching ramp is a natural sandbar where those who have boats gather to cool off from the summer heat. Pedal boats, kayaks, and 16-ft. johnboats with 9.9 hp motors can be rented from the state park marina. The park staff hosts boat tours and kayak tours.
Within Petit Jean State Park is Lake Bailey, a 100-acre reservoir constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) beginning in 1933. Lake Bailey was constructed to serve primarily as a fishing impoundment
and through the years these waters have offered excellent fishing opportunities. The lake is upstream from the canyons of Petit Jean State Park and just north of the park visitor center. Boaters can access the lake from the launch ramp located in the park's overflow camping area. There is a 10 horsepower limit on boat motors used on the lake. Petit Jean's historic boathouse rents fishing boats as well as peddle boats from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year. The lake is named for Arkansas Governor Carl Bailey, who served from 1937-1941, in honor of his support during his term in office towards the park's development by supporting legislative appropriation bills to fund park projects.
Although Pinnacle Mountain State Park is known primarily for the outdoor recreation on, and around, its namesake peak, for boaters the park offers launch ramps to access both the Big and Little Maumelle Rivers.
The Big Maumelle River is pictured in this aerial view. Most larger watercraft prefer the deeper waters of the nearby Arkansas River. From the Big Maumelle River launch within Pinnacle Mountain State Park boaters can motor three miles downstream to the Arkansas River. Maumelle Park, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is two miles east of the state park. This federal park offers a favored launch point into Murray Lake on the Arkansas River.
White Oak Lake is the second largest Arkansas Game and Fish Commission impoundment lake in the state. There are five public access points on the lake. The lower lake covers 1,735 acres and the upper lake is
over 1,030 acres. Note that all Game and Fish rules and regulations apply to lake users. There is no limit on the size of motor used on boats; however, White Oak Lake is a shallow lake averaging 10 feet, and there are many stumps and logs in the water. There are rental boats with motors available at the park marina.
Woolly Hollow State Park nestled in the Ozark Mountain foothills, just 19 miles from Conway, features Lake Bennett built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps as the nation's first watershed project. The
lake was named for Dr. Hugh Bennett, the father of conservation. Though the lake is relatively small at 40 acres, it is also relatively deep, with its deepest point measuring 80 feet near the dam.