Tent camping in Arkansas takes you back to a simpler time. You don’t have to worry about dragging an RV behind you or wonder if you can make it up that next Ozark Mountain, or consider what to do when your awning decides it doesn’t want to extend anymore.
The best part about tent camping in Arkansas is that there are no limits on where you can go. You can adventure to any beach on the Buffalo River that piques your interest or get one of the best campsites in the campground that are right on the lake.
No matter where you choose to go, tent camping in Arkansas is always an adventure.
BEST Places to Tent Camp in Arkansas
Here are 10 of the best places to pitch a tent in Arkansas!
1. Buffalo National River
If you enjoy a good float trip, then tent camping along the Buffalo might be for you! This is also fun if you just like to watch other people try to paddle without letting their dog/cooler/extra rider fall out of the canoe.
“Buffalo National River maintains numerous campgrounds throughout the park. They range from primitive with just vault toilets, no water and no designated sites to developed with electric and water hook-ups for RV camping.” -source
Although there are plenty of places to camp along the Buffalo river, two favorites by many Arkansans are Kyle’s Landing and Gilbert.
“Kyles Landing Campground is about half way between Ponca and Jasper, Arkansas, off of Highway 74. The campground has 33 sites and is open year round on a first come, first served basis.” -source
The road to Kyles Landing is a rough, gravel road. You will need a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance to visit this campground.
“Gilbert gravel bar, downstream from the access point, is available for drive-in camping. No designated sites, picnic tables, fire rings or potable water is available.” -source
Gilbert is a pack in/pack out facility. There is no trash service provided so you must “pack out” everything you “pack in.” Please help keep our river clean!
Before you camp here, you will want to check the river level to make sure it’s not flooded.
Speaking of amazing rivers, don’t miss my review of tent camping at Spring River Oaks vs Many Islands Campground on the Spring River.
2. Blanchard Springs Recreation Area
Tent camping at Blanchard Springs is a one of a kind experience. This area of Arkansas is absolutely beautiful.
“Blanchard Springs Recreation Area is located in the scenic Ozark National Forest. The Ozark Mountains are known for beautiful “rolling” hills, hidden caverns, waterfalls and clear flowing streams.” -source
All the campsites in the Blanchard Springs Recreation Area are first come, first served. They have tables, grills and campfire rings to make your camp-out enjoyable. There are also flush toilets and drinking water.
3. Toad Suck Campground in Conway
Many tent campers in the Central Arkansas area likely to head on over to Toad Suck Campground in Conway for a quick but relaxing getaway.
“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
4. Bull Shoals White River State Park
A tent camping trip along the White River is a beautiful experience.
“Famous for its world-class trout fishing, Bull Shoals–White River State Park lies along the shores of both Bull Shoals Lake and the White River. Venturing down into the park along the White River, visitors are greeted with 113 campsites (63 class AAA, 30 Class B, and 20 tent sites with no hook- ups) plus three Rent-An-RV sites.” -source
While you’re there, don’t miss the large (15,744-square-foot) visitor center! It has a beautiful visitor exhibit hall and theater. This is where you can go to hear great fishing stories!
P.S. Interpretive programs include campfire-cooking demonstrations to help you become the most popular camper in the park.
5. JFK Campground and Recreation Area
“This campground offers 68 sites with electrical hookups, 44 of which also have water hookups. Additional amenities include flush toilets, showers, a dump station, picnic shelter and a boat ramp.” -source
JFK Park lies along the Little Red River which is a tailwater of the Greers Ferry Dam. The Little Red River is one of the BEST trout fishing rivers in Arkansas.
While you’re there, you can walk over to the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery and see thousands of trout right in front of you!
Also, Collins Creek Trail and Cascade is within walking distance of JFK Campground which makes this campground a perfect place for tent camping in Arkansas with hiking and waterfalls!
6. Old Highway 25 on Greers Ferry Lake
Old Highway 25 Campground is a favorite place for GREAT tent camping around Greers Ferry Lake for us locals. It’s a beautiful campground that is a little less populated than the Dam Site Campground in Heber Springs, and all of the best campsites are tent-only sites that are right on the water!
“Old Highway 25 Park is located on Greers Ferry Lake in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of north-central Arkansas. The environment provides the ideal location for family camping, fishing, boating and hiking.” -source
7. Shady Lake
Shady Lake Campground lies on the edge of a scenic 25-acre lake. This is a remote mountain setting that is perfect for tent camping. While you’re there, you can also enjoy the Shady Lake Trail!
“The Shady Lake Trail traverses Saline Creek and passes the historic Shady Lake Dam. It continues along the eastern edge of the campground. The trail is ideal for day-hiking. Mountain bikers may also use the trail.” -source
Shady Lake was also named one of the best campgrounds for tent camping in Arkansas without a reservation.
Latitude : 34.3628361
Longitude : -94.0277694
8. Cossatot Reefs in Southwest Arkansas
“Cossatot Reefs Campground sits along the lush banks of Gillham Lake in southwest Arkansas. Nicknamed the “Bright Spot on the Cossatot,” Gillham Lake is a recreational oasis for outdoor enthusiasts.” -source
Cossatot Reefs campground is a beautiful shady place to pitch a tent along Gillham Lake. You will find 31 shady campsites, hot showers, drinking water and flush toilets.
This small campground is a nice, quiet place to relax, build a campfire and enjoy the view of the lake.
9. Woolly Hollow State Park in Greenbrier
Not only does Woolly Hollow State Park have some of the best tent camping near water in Arkansas, it also has some of the BEST bank fishing in Central Arkansas!
“This is a classic state park experience with fishing, boating, and swimming on 40-acre Lake Bennett in Greenbrier about 18 miles north of Conway. Park facilities also include 30 AAA campsites,10 tent sites, and a bathhouse for hot showers.” –source
Want to camp in more state parks? Read: BEST Tent Camping in Arkansas State Parks.
10. Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro
If you want to tent camp and maybe go home with a free diamond too, Crater of Diamonds State Park is the place you’ll want to be!
“More than 33,100 diamonds have been found by park visitors since the Crater of Diamonds became an Arkansas state park in 1972. Notable diamonds found at the Crater include the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, the largest diamond ever unearthed in the U.S.; the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight; the 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas; and the 8.52-carat Esperanza.” -source
This state park offers 47 Class AAA campsites and 5 walk-in tent sites. You can also enjoy Diamond Springs Water Park during those hot summer days.
This is an experience that you can definitely check off your EPIC Arkansas Bucket List.