Arkansas is known as the Natural State for a reason. It is home to 52 state parks and rests within national forests. There are numerous lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, and every little body of water in between you could think of to find some adventures at the beaches in Arkansas.
Growing up in northeast Arkansas, my family and I would visit the local smaller lakes to fish and swim, but summertime was when we always make a point to travel to the central and western regions to find swimming holes new to us.
No matter how many times I have visited the local parks or the larger national parks, I am always captivated by what my home state has to offer. There is something that cannot be beat when you swim in a lake that is shadowed by the state’s largest mountain or you picnic along the beaches surrounded by the vast array of natural foliage and the little critters of the forest.
Consider planning your next summer getaway with some of these incredibly beautiful and easy to find Arkansas beaches.
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The Best Beaches in Arkansas
In no particular order…
Located at Crowley’s Ridge State Park just outside of Paragould, Lake Ponder makes for a quaint day trip for the whole family. The beach sits right next to the swimming area, but the park also offers several easy walking trails, many different picnic and grill areas, a playground, and a waterfall.
I have personally spent many summer days picnicking in the grass with my family and swimming the day away with my cousins. This beach area offers just the right amount of activities to make it one I would recommend to any family.
As one of the largest hand-cut limestone dams in the U.S., Lake Leatherwood offers over three miles of shoreline to enjoy. The beach attracts many for swimming and boating, but the 85-acre lake also draws the attention of hikers, bikers, and outdoors adventurers alike.
The history and attraction of the near town of Eureka Springs is also matched by the unique rock formations and historic bridges found at Lake Leatherwood, making this beach and park ideal for all.
Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake winds throughout the Ozark Mountains of Western Arkansas, spanning Eureka Springs to Branson, MO. This Army Corps of Engineers project has attracted many different people over the years.
Covering 53,000 acres, there is ample opportunity and beach space available to swim, boat, fish, and even scuba dive. Table Rock Lake is another location I enjoy spending summertime with my family because its long stretch of the area gives you plenty of opportunities to find a place near the water but away from the people.
Nestled within the Ouachita National Forest, the Shady Lake recreational area was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lake and beach are popular resting places for those passing through on day hikes or mountain biking in the mountainous setting. It is not as highly traveled to and sought after, but the 25-acre lake is scenic, none-the-less.
Within the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests sits the Shores Lake recreational area. The area offers not only a beach for swimming and fishing, but it also includes a loop hiking trail with magnificent views of wildlife and waterfalls alike.
The area showcases and highlights the beauty of nature helped to be preserved by the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps who built the Shores Lake dam in the 1930s.
Blue Mountain Lake
Blue Mountain Lake is located by Arkansas’ tallest mountain, Mount Magazine, making it a must-see for natives and visitors alike. This lake is located between the Ouachita and Ozark Mountain Forests, making for scenic beauty in all directions near the water.
The beaches offer great opportunities for fishing and swimming, and its centralized location in the state offers the opportunity to take a short trip to other local hot spots.
Sandstone bluffs, flowing streams, and beautiful scenery make this 82-acre lake a must-see addition to the Ouachita National Forest. The beautiful beaches offer guests a great opportunity to swim, fish, or boat while enjoying the beauty of the hardwoods and wildflowers of the Natural State. The recreation area also offers campsites and a loop hiking trail for those who want to stray from the beach.
Bear Creek Lake
30-miles of shoreline set in the St. Francis National Forest attracts adventurists to the Bear Creek recreation area. The beaches offer access to swimming, canoeing, and fishing, as well as picnicking areas and hiking. The Bear Creek Natural Trail is featured in the area with a one-mile loop winding through the forest.
Storm Creek Lake
Constructed on the Crowley’s Ridge, the Storm Creek Lake is 425-acres with plenty of opportunity to enjoy a day by the water. While swimming and boating are available on the lake, fishing is the mass array of sportfish is the highlight of the lake.
Originally built as a drinking water reservoir within the city of Conway, this 1200-acre park encompasses all the amenities for a fun family day beside waterfront activities. This is another Arkansas lake that offers opportunities to swim and windsurf, but the big draw is the fishing.
Lake Sylvia is a small 18-acre lake just outside of Little Rock with opportunities for fishing and swimming. This lake is nestled near easy nature walk trails or the longer, more adventurous Ouachita National Recreational Trail.
This lake is easy to access and inclusive of giving the opportunity to include those who live with physical disabilities to enjoy nature trails.
This recreational and beach area are along the Big Piney Creek. The Long Pool recreational area offers opportunities for visitors to picnic, swim, canoe, and fish along the waterline. The natural pool, rock bluffs, and beautiful forests draw visitors to the nationally recognized Scenic and Recreational River.
This 47-mile waterway, known as Big Sugar Creek, spans parts of southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. The water flows to an ending creek known as Little Sugar Creek where visitors enjoy opportunities for canoeing and kayaking.
Originally created by the Army Corps of Engineers as a flood control, this 12-mile long lake is surrounded by thousands of miles of public land, providing opportunities for visitors to boat, swim, fish, and hike around the water.
This 40-acre lake is named after Dr. Hugh Bennet, the first director of the US Soil Conservation Service. The lake originally was the first project in the US built to study the effects of water run-off, silt, and erosion control from a watershed. Today, visitors now use the beaches of the lake for swimming, boating, and picnicking.
Lake Charles is about 30-minutes outside of Jonesboro, making it an easily accessed quite place for fishing for those who live in the city. This lake does not offer boating or swimming opportunities along the beaches like most other areas do in the state, but it is known for being the lake where the most 20-inch bass have been caught in the Northeast Arkansas region.
The 85-acre Lake Austell gives Lake Charles a run for its money in being a go to place to catch story-worthy fish. Lake Austell allows for boating, as well, but the popular draw is the opportunity to catch large sportfish such as largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish, making this a fishermen’s paradise.
Arkansas Travel Resources
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for your trip make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I have used World Nomads when I travel since 2016, and I happily recommend them.
Getting coverage is important whenever you’re more than a hundred miles from home in case of an accident, sickness, theft, etc.
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Pin these Arkansas Beaches for Your Summer Adventures!
Kirsten Hazlewood is from Paragould, AR and graduated from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR. She still remains in Paragould with her husband, two stepchildren, and their clowder of cats and raccoons.