campgrounds central arkansas

Best Campgrounds near Central Arkansas

For folks who live in Central Arkansas, deciding on the best campground to stay at nearby can be both exciting and frustrating.

It’s exciting because there are so many campgrounds that are just an hour away but it’s also frustrating because most of the campgrounds are an hour away!

Residents of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountain areas have it made. They basically have campgrounds everywhere they turn. The best camping areas for people in Central Arkansas are a little more spread out but it’s still manageable.

BEST Campgrounds for Campers in Central Arkansas

As a long time resident of Central Arkansas, I understand what you’re going through! I have been through the same thought process many weekends. So, I’m going to share with you the BEST campgrounds you should go to if you live in Central Arkansas.

Maumelle Park Campground

Maumelle Park Campground is a favorite for many people in Central Arkansas because the drive there is short. It’s located on the Arkansas River and the sunsets are amazing.

Many folks in the Central Arkansas area also choose Maumelle Park as a relaxing place to spend a “shake down” weekend before making a longer trip. This gives them time to make sure they packed everything they need and that everything in their camper works. If they realized they forgot something, it’s a short trip home or to the WalMart on Cantrell Road!

“Maumelle Campground offers 128 spacious campsites with electric hookups, along with eight large group picnic shelters. Amenities include a dock, hot showers, a boat ramp and playground. The campground is set on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, a series of navigation pools used to help ships navigate upstream toward Oklahoma. The Arkansas River is one of the Mississippi’s largest tributaries, flowing 1,450 miles from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, through to Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Wintering eagles can be seen in large numbers along the Arkansas River.” -source

Pinnacle Mountain State Park is just two miles from Maumelle Park Campground and offers one of the best “MUST DO” hikes in Arkansas!

While you’re in the area, don’t miss all the FREE things to do in Central Arkansas!

You’ll find Maumelle Park Campground here:
Latitude: 34° 49′ 45.9998″ N
Longitude: 92° 25′ 54.9998″ W

Lake Ouachita State Park

Lake Ouachita State Park is a favorite for residents of Central Arkansas. The drive down there is easy, and once you get there you’ll enjoy a wonderful camping vacation! We have even named Lake Ouachita State Park as being one of the BEST state parks in Arkansas for camping!

“Arkansas’s largest lake, Lake Ouachita offers 40,000 acres of clear, clean water surrounded by the scenic Ouachita National Forest. Swimming, skiing, scuba diving, boating, kayaking, and fishing are enjoyed here. Bream, crappie, catfish, striped bass, and largemouth bass can be caught in open waters or quiet coves. The park has 93 campsites (58 Class AAA, 23 Class D, and 12 walk-in tent sites), some right on the water.” -source

Don’t miss all the fun things to do in Hot Springs for kids!

You’ll find Lake Ouachita State Park here:
5451 Mountain Pine Rd
Mountain Pine, AR 71956

Also, did you know that some of the BEST free camping in Arkansas is around Lake Ouachita?

Lake Catherine State Park

“This peaceful park is located on Lake Catherine, one of five lakes in the beautiful Ouachita Mountain region. The only full-service marina on the lake is here at the park and open in the summertime for bait, snacks/drinks, and fuel. Boat rentals are available year-round. The park also includes a launch ramp, pavilion, picnic sites, playgrounds, and a well-marked trail that leads to a waterfall.

The park has 20 fully equipped cabins. The park offers 70 campsites, six primitive tent sites, one Rent-A-Camp, and one Rent-A-Yurt. Many of these sites are on the lakeshore. Park interpreters offer hikes, lake tours, and programs year-round. Guided horseback rides are offered seasonally.” -source

You’ll find Lake Catherine State Park here:
1200 Catherine Park Road
Hot Springs, AR 71913

You’ll also love: BEST Tent Camping in Arkansas!

Lake Sylvia Campground and Recreation Area

“Nestled between scenic pine and oak-clad mountains in the northeast corner of the Ouachita National Forest is Lake Sylvia Recreation Area. The serene 18-acre lake is noted for its swimming and fishing opportunities only 38 miles west of Little Rock.” -source

All campsites at Lake Sylvia Campground are first-come, first-served. This campground also offers a swimming area, toilets, drinking water and picnic tables.

Lake Sylvia was also named one of the BEST Tent Camping Areas with Swimming near Little Rock!

You’ll find Lake Sylvia here:
Latitude: 34.8676194
Longitude: -92.8224056

Don’t miss these INCREDIBLE Hiking Trails in Arkansas!

Greers Ferry Dam Site

I grew up camping at the Dam Site and loved every minute of it!

“Dam Site Park is located at Greers Ferry Dam at the foot of Round Mountain in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of north-central Arkansas. The environment provides the ideal location for family camping, fishing, boating and hiking.” -source

We can get there in about an hour from Central Arkansas which makes it a nice, short drive since we usually have at least one child who gets car sick.

You will especially love the swimming areas at the Dam Site on Greers Ferry Lake. One of them is truly unique!

Read my full review of this campground here: REVIEW Dam Site Campground in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

camping on greers ferry lake
Our campsite at the Dam site on Greers Ferry Lake!

35° 31′ 18.9998″ N
91° 59′ 51.0000″ W

From Heber Springs, AR, take SR-25 3 miles north and follow signs to the campground.


Greers Ferry Lake offers some of the BEST camping in Arkansas.

Toad Suck Campground in Conway

Toad Suck is a nice campground in Central Arkansas that many campers enjoy. It’s location in Central Arkansas means that it’s only a short drive no matter where you’re coming from in the area.

“Toad Suck provides 48 sites with electric and water hookups, plus five group picnic shelters. Additional amenities include hot showers, multiple playgrounds and a boat ramp.” -source

Toad Suck also happens to have a very funny Arkansas town name! But that’s just part of the fun.

You’ll find Toad Suck Park here:
Latitude35° 4′ 26.0000″ N
Longitude92° 32′ 40.9999″ W

Lake Dardanelle State Park

Lake Dardanelle State Park is a little longer drive from Central Arkansas but it’s worth the trip! This is a beautiful area of the state, and Lake Dardanelle has some of the best fishing in Arkansas. So, don’t forget your fishing pole! There is even a nice dock from which to fish.

Tip: The huge aquariums in the visitor center should NOT be missed!

“This park is located in two areas on Lake Dardanelle, a 34,300-acre reservoir on the Arkansas River. The main site is in Russellville where you’ll find the Sport Fishing Weigh-in Pavilion, a fishing pier, boardwalk, trail, and visitor center with five aquariums and the Lakeview Room meeting facility. It’s also a National Park Service-certified site on the Trail of Tears water route. Park interpreters lead a variety of programs and lake tours. There are 57 campsites in the Russellville area of the park with 18 Class B sites in the Dardanelle area of the park.” -source

You’ll find Lake Dardanelle State Park here:
2428 Marina Rd
Russellville, AR 72802

sunset over lake dardanelle
The sunsets over Lake Dardanelle are the best.

Woolly Hollow State Park in Greenbrier

Woolly Hollow is a beautiful state park on the shores of Lake Bennett. The tent sites are right on the water and within walking distance of the fishing pier, playground, bathhouse and walking trail.

In fact, we named Woolly Hollow as having some of the BEST tent camping near water in Arkansas!

There is a great swimming beach. Plus, a snack bar is open near the life-guarded swimming beach in the summer.

Woolly Hollow is about one hour from Little Rock.

You’ll find Woolly Hollow State Park here:
82 Woolly Hollow Road
Greenbrier, AR 72058

Also, don’t miss these GREAT Central Arkansas Dog Parks!

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