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Statewide Travel 0

8 Small Lakes to Visit in Arkansas


If there is one thing to cure the steamy heat of an Arkansas summer, it’s dipping into one of Arkansas’s many lakes. Arkansas has over 600,000 acres of lakes, and all of that water is home to some of the best fishing in the area, many types of wildlife, and the opportunity for outdoor recreation. This summer, visit one of these smaller Arkansas lakes to stay cool and enjoy everything Arkansas lakes have to offer.

Nimrod Lake and Dam. Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Heritage, Parks and Tourism.

Nimrod Lake

Nimrod Lake is the state’s oldest Corps of Engineers lake. In 1942, the Corps dammed the Fourche La Fave River, creating a 3,550-acre lake. The lake is well-known for crappie fishing in particular and also yields largemouth bass, white bass, bream and catfish. It’s not simply a fishing lake, though. The Corps of Engineers manages six recreational areas that include camping, swimming areas and a playground. Seasonal hunting is also allowed around the lake with a 2,400-acre public duck hunting area. Nimrod Lake is off of Scenic Byway 7, near Petit Jean State Park and Mount Nebo State Park, with Hot Springs nearby. Its location makes it perfect as a camping destination to explore nearby parks and trails. Find out more about Lake Nimrod from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Lake Erling

Lake Erling is located in southwest Arkansas in Lafayette County. The lake is man-made, built in 1958 by the International Paper Company to serve as a reservoir for a paper plant just across the state line in Louisiana. Lake Erling is now under joint management by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the paper company. It is now a conservation area, and its 7,100 acres of lake surface is perfect for fishing, boating, and camping. Several private campgrounds, including two RV campgrounds, allow visitors to enjoy the area. An adjacent Lafayette County Wildlife Management Area allows in-season hunting with a permit. Visit AGFC.com for permit information.

A yurt at Daisy State Park on Lake Greeson. Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Heritage, Parks and Tourism.

Lake Greeson

Lake Greeson is a beautiful, clear-water lake near Murfreesboro. The lake is 12 miles long and surrounded by public land and beautiful parks, including Daisy State Park. The lake was built in the late 1940s by the Corps of Engineers and now has 11 campgrounds, several public use areas, and four marinas. It also has six swimming areas with sandy beaches, making it a favorite in the area.

Fisherman’s Cabin at Lake Catherine State Park. Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Heritage, Parks and Tourism.

Lake Catherine

Lake Catherine is a small lake within the Ouachita River system just east of Lake Hamilton and Hot Springs. Lake Catherine formed from the Remmel Dam, built by Arkansas Power and Light in 1924 to create electricity. Remmel Dam is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and Lake Catherine has long been a quiet lake with abundant recreational opportunities. Though the lake is only 1,940 acres in size, it has Lake Catherine State Park, which offers camping, hiking and horseback riding. The park traces its history back to the CCC when many of its buildings were constructed. Visitors can also find a seasonal waterfall and a scenic overlook. Visit arkansasstateparks.com to learn more about this lovely little lake.

Kayaking Lake Charles. Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Heritage, Parks and Tourism.

Lake Charles

Lake Charles is just 30 minutes west of Jonesboro and is becoming well-known for its fishing and as a place to relax, especially with a visit to Lake Charles State Park. At just 645 acres, the lake has excellent fishing, especially for bass and catfish, and camping as well. The state park has 60 sites and also rents out YURTS. Those who want to enjoy the water from the shore can hike one of the park’s four hiking trails or enjoy a swim since Lake Charles has a sandy swim beach. Find out more about the lake and the state park at arkansasstateparks.com.

Gilham Lake

Gilham Lake is in southern Arkansas in Polk and Howard Counties. This 1,370-acre lake was built by the Army Corps of Engineers as a water reservoir, but it now features five recreational areas, three campgrounds, a hiking trail and a swimming beach. The lake is a favorite in the area for bass fishing. The neaby Cossatot River also offers a chance to do some fly-fishing and canoeing.

Crown Lake from Crown Point Resort. Photo: Sheffieldb via Flickr.

Crown Lake

Crown Lake is located in Horseshoe Bend, a popular retirement and tourist destination in northern Arkansas. The lake is popular for fishing, but it also has other water sports available, including kayaking, water skiing, and paddle boarding. Crown Lake has resorts and camping available, and its proximity to Horseshoe Bend and nearby Diamond Lake makes it the perfect choice for a fun-filled adventure.

Lake Chicot State Park. Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas Department of Heritage, Parks and Tourism.

Lake Chicot

Arkansas’s largest natural lake sits in the southeast corner of the state. Lake Chicot is the largest oxbow lake in North America. Its C shape is one mile wide but 21 miles long. The lake offers 5,000 acres, is a refuge for wildlife, and is situated in the Mississippi Flyway, the route many migratory birds take each year when flying south for the winter. Bird watchers and boaters can spot ducks, geese, egrets, ibises and storks. The lake is also the site of Lake Chicot State Park, where visitors can rent cabins, camp, or take a lake tour. Lake Village is on the lake as well and is part of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

Arkansas has plenty of lakes to visit, and these smaller lakes are perfect for cooling off and enjoying an Arkansas summer.

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Kimberly S. Mitchell loves journeys, real or imagined. She has hiked the Inca Trail, walked into Panama on a rickety wooden bridge and once missed the last train of the night in Paris and walked several miles home (with friends). She believes magic can be found in life and books, loves to watch the stars appear, and still dreams of backpacking the world. Now she writes adventures to send her characters on journeys, too. Pen & Quin: International Agents of Intrigue - The Mystery of the Painted Book is her debut novel. Find out more at KSMitchell.com.

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