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sunset over a lake in a state park near hot springs arkansasIt doesn’t take a rocket scientist to reason why Arkansas is affectionately nicknamed ‘The Natural State’.

Boasting a landscape that is as diverse as it is beautiful, everything from the wonders of the Ozarks, to a raft of spectacular lakes. rivers and forests are waiting to be explored in this wonderful region.

For residents of Hot Springs there are no less than 52 state parks they can visit within the state. All of which are managed by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.

An excellent way to relax, get healthy or bring about mental clarity, these fabulous state parks provide endless opportunities for activities like hiking, swimming, fishing and boating.

Now that Covid restrictions are over, if you are looking for some inspiration on where you can go, this list of 5 state parks near Hot Springs should provide you with enough ideas.

Map of State Parks Near Hot Springs, AR

Here is a map of the state parks in Arkansas covered by this post:

List of State Parks Near Hot Springs

All five of these state parks near Hot Springs can be reached within a 3 hour drive from the city. So they are very accessible day trip destinations.

That said, if you would like to stay at any of them for a prolonged period of time, they all offer a range of camping and other overnight accommodation options too.

1. Daisy State Park

Location: 103 E Park Rd, Kirby, AR 71950

Ever since it first opened in the 1950s, Daisy State Park has been a popular destination for those who love the water.

Located at the foothills of the stunning Ouachita Mountains, the park resides an hour’s drive southwest of Hot Springs.

It features a terrific 7,000-acre fishing lake which is well stocked with trout, as well as the Little Missouri River, which is also a renowned spot for kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing or boating. The latter of which will take you out towards remarkable rock formations which otherwise might not be visible to you from dry land.

Both family and pet friendly, the state park has a playground for children as well as a pavilion and several picnic areas. Camping options include three YURTS and 100 powered and unpowered campsites.

2. Lake Dardanelle State Park

Location: 100 State Park Drive, Russellville, AR 72802

Another fabulous destination for those who love the water is the Lake Dardanelle State Park.

Situated an hour and 40 minute drive north of Hot Springs, this stunning park is actually split across two sites on opposite sides of Lake Dardanelle.

Taking the form of a 34,300 acre reservoir which resides on the Arkansas River, the lake is a haven for angling. An activity that predominantly happens at Russellville where there is also a pier and a Sport Fishing Weigh-In Pavilion.

As well as being a terrific platform for fishing, the pier is a wonderful place to see the sun set. There is also a marvelous beach for swimming, while several trails will take you on scenic hikes around the park.

For the kids there is a very good playground, while park interpreters offer several interesting and educational programs and lake tours. The visitor center also has five aquariums, and there are plenty of boat ramps, pavilions and picnic facilities to enjoy too.

In terms of overnight accommodation across both areas, there are 75 campsites available, which incorporate Class AAA, Class AA, and Class B rated sites.

3. Mississippi River State Park

Location: 2955 State Hwy 44, Marianna, AR 72360

Looking for a park where you can get really active? Then head to the Mississippi River State Park.

It will take you 2 hours and 30 minutes to drive east there from Hot Springs, but once you arrive you will be able to hike through the St. Francis National Forest until your heart’s content.

The park is actually situated at the confluence of Crowley’s Ridge, the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta. Which collectively presents a landscape that encompasses everything from sandy beaches and lush grasslands to dense woodlands and three gorgeous lakes which are great for fishing and boating.

All up, the park offers four campgrounds which range from primitive sites, with little in the way of facilities, to Class AAA sites that provide electricity, water, a bathhouse and sewer.

4. Lake Charles State Park

Location: 3705 AR-25, Powhatan, AR 72458

For those wanting to head right into the heart of the Ozarks, Lake Charles State Park is an excellent option.

Situated a 3 hour drive north of Hot Springs, the highlight of the 140-acre park is the artificial Lake Charles, which has an abundance of bream, catfish, crappie and bass that often exceeds 20-inches in length!

If fishing does not float your boat, you can literally float a boat, on one of the various sunset tours of the lake which you can book. Alternatively there is a terrific swimming beach to enjoy, as well as numerous hiking trails.

Overall, 60 campsites are available onsite. Of these 20 are Class AAA sites, which are nestled right on the water’s edge. While there is also a yurt and other lodging accommodation available too.

5. Lake Chicot State Park

Location: 2542 State Hwy 257, Lake Village, AR 71653

Just over 3 hours south east of Hot Springs resides Lake Chicot State Park.

Flanking Lake Chicot, a 22 mile oxbow lake that used to be one the main channels of the Mississippi River, this stunning 211.6 acre public recreational space is a very popular spot for swimming and fishing.

The state park also lies within one of the USA’s biggest flyways, so it is a favored destination for birdwatching too. Most of which can be seen while exploring any of the hiking trails that lead you to various scenic spots in the area.

Should you visit during the warmer months of summer, the kids will also love the seasonal swimming pool, which also has really cool water slides.

For those looking for overnight accommodation, the park offers 14 cabins and 122 campsites. Many of which are Class AAA sites that have hookups for 50 amp electricity, water and sewer.