It’s not surprising that Arkansas is referred to as ‘The Natural State’.
Blessed with a diverse landscape that ranges from the sheer majesty of the Ozarks to a plethora of gorgeous lakes, stunning rivers and picturesque woodlands, Arkansas’s outstanding beauty is best showcased within its state parks.
Overall there are 52 such parks within the state, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.
If you live near Little Rock, most of these parks are easily accessible to you. Ranging in size from 1 acre to almost 11,750 acres, they provide excellent opportunities for outdoor recreational pursuits like swimming, hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and camping.
A great way to relax, keep fit or improve your mental clarity, it’s always good to immerse yourself in Arkansas’ great outdoors.
If you are looking for some ideas on where to go, this list of 5 state parks near Little Rock should provide you with plenty of inspiration.
Map of State Parks Near Little Rock AR
Here is a map of the state parks in Arkansas covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Little Rock
All of the five state parks near Little Rock showcased below are located within a 2 hour drive from the city. So they can easily be visited as a day trip.
However if you would like to stay at any of them for an extended period, they all have decent options for camping and other types of overnight accommodation too.
1. Lake Dardanelle State Park
Location: 100 State Park Drive, Russellville, AR 72802
Split across two sites, either side of Lake Dardanelle, the state park of the same name is a wonderful place to engage in your favorite water based recreational activities.
Situated an hour and 15 minutes drive northwest of Little Rock, this 34,300 acre reservoir on the Arkansas River is a very popular spot for fishing. This predominantly takes place at the main site in Russellville, where there is a fishing pier and Sport Fishing Weigh-In Pavilion.
The pier is an excellent place to take in gorgeous sunsets, whilst there is also a swimming beach, boarding walk, hiking trails and a visitor center that has five aquariums here too.
Over at the Dardanelle site, you’ll find plenty of picnic facilities, as well as boat ramps, pavilions and playgrounds. At both sites park interpreters provide a variety of programs and lake tours.
For those looking for overnight accommodation, there are 75 campsites available across both sites, which include Class AAA, Class AA, and Class B rated camping.
2. Mississippi River State Park
Location: 2955 State Hwy 44, Marianna, AR 72360
Located an hour and 45 minute drive east of Little Rock, the Mississippi River State Park is a fabulous place to go to if you love to get active.
Providing convenient access to the St. Francis National Forest, the park is also notable for residing at the spot where the Mississippi River, Arkansas Delta and Crowley’s Ridge meet. So visitors can venture through landscapes that range from sandy shorelines and dense hardwood forests to grasslands and three scenic lakes.
This makes the park an excellent spot for photography, and with four main hiking trails and two excellent recreational areas it is also a great place for rambling, biking, swimming, fishing and boating.
Overall there are four campgrounds in the park which range from Class AAA sites that come with electricity, water, sewer and a bathhouse, to more primitive sites that do not have electricity or water.
3. Daisy State Park
Location: 103 E Park Rd, Kirby, AR 71950
Nestled at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, the Daisy State Park has been a popular destination for anglers ever since the 1950s.
It will take you an hour and 45 minutes to drive south west from Little Rock, but once you are there you will find a gorgeous 7,000-acre fishing lake to cast your line for trout. If you fancy a change of scene you can also head over to the Little Missouri River which is just as well stocked.
Incorporating 276-acres, kayaking is another popular activity at the park, with plenty of rentals available. While boat tours of the lake will take you out to magnificent rock formations which you may not otherwise be able to see. If you have an ATV you can also go riding at the Bear Cycle Trail too.
Camping options here include three YURTS and 100 campsites. While this family and pet friendly destination also has a number of picnic areas, a playground and a pavilion.
4. Lake Chicot State Park
Location: 2542 State Hwy 257, Lake Village, AR 71653
Just over 2 hours south of Little Rock is the 211.6 acre Lake Chicot State Park.
Running alongside Lake Chicot, which is a 22 mile oxbow lake that was one the main channels of the Mississippi River, its sparkling waters are a popular spot for fishing and swimming.
As it is situated in one of America’s largest flyways it is also a great base for birdwatching, many of whom can be spotted whilst exploring its many trails. You can also go wildlife watching on a barge tour here too.
If you come here during the summer, the kids will also love the onsite, seasonal swimming pool that features water slides.
In terms of overnight accommodation, there are 14 cabins and 122 campsites available, which include a number of Class AAA sites that come with water, 50 amp electricity and sewer.
5. Lake Charles State Park
Location: 3705 AR-25, Powhatan, AR 72458
Situated right in the heart of the Ozarks, along the Black River, the 140-acre Lake Charles State Park is another exceptional fishing spot.
Reached via a 2 hour drive northeast of Little Rock, the main highlight of the park is the 645-acre artificial Lake Charles which is filled with 20-inch bass, as well as crappie, bream, and catfish.
If fishing is not your thing you can enjoy a lovely swimming beach, or explore the area through a number of hiking trails. A sunset boat tour of the lake is another excellent thing to do here too.
Overall there are 60 campsites available, around 20 of which are Class AAA sites that are located right on the water. There is also a yurt as on offer as an additional lodging option.