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Central Dardanelle Morrilton Paris Russellville
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4 Arkansas River Valley State Parks


Spring is a perfect time to get outside, and the Arkansas River Valley boasts many opportunities. If Spring Break was any indication, people are ready to get outdoors and explore, but they are open to staying close to home and finding screen-free weekends to relax and rest together.

Lucky for us, our 52 State Parks are perfect destinations to check all those boxes. This month, four River Valley region state parks will be central to the Great North American Total Solar Eclipse and many campsites, cabins, RV parks, and ground camping sites started selling out in 2022 and 2023. But you may still find space to secure a prime viewing spot.

Beyond April 8, these four River Valley region Arkansas State Parks are ideal locations for long weekends, couple’s getaways and family reunions. The parks are close enough to enjoy multiple locations in one weekend, but the best way to explore them is to enjoy them one at a time, where you can relax and enjoy their outdoor and indoor amenities.

Mount Magazine State Park

Nestled amid the scenic Ouachita Mountains and the Ozark-St Francis National Forest, Mount Magazine State Park beckons outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. As the highest point in the state, it offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. With its diverse landscapes, ranging from lush forests to deep canyons for repelling, Mount Magazine State Park provides many opportunities for exploration, relaxation, and extreme adventure.

Location: Paris | Website | Events
Eclipse events informationEclipse Edition Events | Get Mooned in Paris

What sets this state apart from others?

Mount Magazine State Park hosts Signal Hill, the highest point in Arkansas and offers opportunities for extreme sports such as hang gliding, repelling, and rock climbing. A lodge provides a picturesque view of the Arkansas River Valley from Cameron Bluff and Huckleberry Mountain. It is the premier location in Arkansas to view changing fall foliage.


  • Lodge
  • Restaurant
  • Cabins
  • Heated indoor swimming pool
  • Camping
  • Trails
  • Hang gliding
  • Wildlife migration paths and birdwatching
  • Technical rock climbing
  • Horseback riding
  • Backpacking
  • ATV Trails
  • Christmas Festival
  • Conference and business centers

Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park, a breathtaking natural oasis in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, welcomes the adventurous soul. With enchanting waterfalls, scenic overlooks and diverse hiking trails, this park offers tranquility and outdoor excitement. As the sun dips below the horizon, the park transforms into a celestial wonderland, offering stargazers a front-row seat to the cosmos. Whether you seek solitude, a romantic escape or adventure, Arkansas’ first state park will lead you to create memories that will last a lifetime.

Location: Morrilton | Website | Events

Eclipse events informationEclipse Tips at the Park | Target Locale, Morrilton | Solar Eclipse Balloon Festival

What sets this state park apart from others?

As Arkansas’ premier state park location, this state park is full of history and the beginning of the state parks system. Visitors can come for the weekend and experience solitude in a single cabin, tent or RV or extend their stay for weeks. The versatility offers opportunities to explore caves, historic bridges, Lake Bailey, and even eat lunch with an exquisite view of Cedar Creek Canyon.


  • Waterfall – walking trails to base or easy access overlook
  • Multiple rock formations
  • Rock Cave
  • Natural Bride
  • Cabins
  • Mather Lodge restaurant
  • Trails at varying levels and abilities
  • Green spaces
  • Yurts
  • Water activities at Lake Bailey
  • Certified National Trail of Tears site
  • View multiple properties built by the CCC on National Historic Register
  • NEW Visitor Center with kid-friendly learning games
  • Conference Hall and Meeting Spaces
  • Seasonal swimming pool
  • Pavilions

Mount Nebo State Park

Mount Nebo State Park, a natural gem nestled within the embrace of the Ouachita Mountains, invites visitors to explore its pristine landscapes and rich history. With peaks over 1300 feet, Mount Nebo State Park offers breathtaking panoramic views of the 34,000-acre Lake Dardanelle and the surrounding valleys and mountains. Mount Nebo Cabin 1 was the first cabin offered in an Arkansas state park, and 12 cabins are considered “on the rim” with sweeping views out the back door. Surviving the zigzag drive up the entrance to the mountain summit is a feat on its own! Whether you’re seeking a romantic escape, a family vacation or a solo retreat, Mount Nebo State Park is the right place.

Location: Dardanelle | Website | Events
Eclipse events information Staying Safe | Total Eclipse in Dardanelle | Moon over Main & More, Russellville

What sets this state park apart from others?

The CCC constructed on-site lodging in 1930s-era cabins and world-class Mountain Biking along Monument Trails connects one trail into a contiguous loop covering all park sections.


  • Mountain top views – designated sunrise and sunset spots
  • Mountain Biking trails
  • Summit Park Trail, a National Recreation Trail
  • Historical structures
  • Variety of cabin styles
  • Playground and children’s play area
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Designated a National Trail of Tears park
  • Historic Home
  • On-site springs

Image used with permission from Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.

Lake Dardanelle State Park

Lake Dardanelle State Park is a hidden gem in the Arkansas River Valley region. Located on the shores of Lake Dardanelle, the park offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking to hike, fish, boat, or relax and enjoy the scenery, Lake Dardanelle State Park has something for everyone. The park is also home to wildlife, including deer, turkeys and eagles.

Location: Russellville/Dardanelle | Website | Events
Eclipse events information Park Events | Total Eclipse in Dardanelle | Moon over Main & More, Russellville

What sets this state park apart from others?

The park’s centerpiece is Lake Dardanelle, a 34,300-acre reservoir known for its excellent fishing, boating and swimming opportunities. Visitors can enjoy fishing for bass, crappie, catfish and other species and participate in fishing tournaments held throughout the year. The park also offers boat ramps, a marina and rental services for boats, kayaks, and canoes, making it convenient for visitors to explore the lake.


  • Fishing
  • Water activities
  • Boat launches
  • Marina
  • Pavilions
  • Lake swimming area
  • Waterfowl and wildlife viewing
  • Visitor Center with Lake Views
  • Picnic areas with grills
  • Developed Camping and RV spots
  • Dardanelle Lock and Dam

Other spots nearby worth exploring:

The Arkansas River Valley region is beautiful and diverse, perfect for a weekend getaway or a family vacation.

Meet the

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

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