Camping Arkansas-style on Lake Dardanelle

Lake Dardanelle, a 34,000 acres reservoir in Northwest Arkansas, is located on the Arkansas River, near the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests. These two water resources combined here and have put this area into the national spotlight as a major bass fishing tournament site.

The lake mirrors the twin cities of Russellville and Dardanelle about 85 miles northwest of Little Rock. It is 2 miles wide in places and has 315 miles of shoreline.

The lake offers a picturesque shoreline, excellent fishing, boating and kayaking and abundant wildlife providing ideal conditions for all outdoor recreation enthusiasts.  The river valley is also a favorite wintering area for the American bald eagle.  The several camping and picnicking parks around the lake offer modern amenities such as boat launching ramps, drinking water, full-service camping areas, picnic sites and other facilities for the convenience of all.

Lake Dardanelle State Park offers two areas on the lake: one park site is at Russellville, and the other is located at nearby Dardanelle. Both the Russellville (main park) and Dardanelle locations offer camping (74 sites: Russellville–16 Class AAA, 13 Class AA, and 27 Class B; Dardanelle Area–18 Class B), launch ramps, standard pavilions, picnic sites, restrooms, and bathhouses with hot showers.

The Russellville site also features a 10,527-square-foot visitor center on the lakeshore overlooking Lake Dardanelle. Interpretive exhibits and state-of-the-art touch screen kiosks share information about the park, the area’s water resources and its history.

An aquatic exhibit in the Amphitheater center features six aquariums that hold fish from the lake and the Arkansas River and its tributaries Piney Creek and the Illinois Bayou.


Another unique facility in the (Russellville) main area is the park’s 1,861-square-foot, fishing tournament weigh-in pavilion, a world-class facility and the first of its kind in the nation that serves as a staging area for tournaments. Near the weigh-in pavilion is a covered, barrier-free fishing pier, a popular facility for bank fishing enthusiasts, sightseers, and photographers because of its sweeping view of the lake and 1,350-foot Mount Nebo to the south.

If you’re looking for a short easy trail to walk, the Meadowbrook Trail at Lake Dardanelle State Park is one to check out. The trail makes a semi-loop through lush forest. It is about 8/10 of a mile long and has almost no elevation change. It starts behind the amphitheater and there is nearby parking.

Rental kayaks and bicycles are available at the main park site.

And, it’s here that park visitors can enjoy nature programs on a wide variety of topics by park interpreters. Note: You do not have to be an overnight camping guest to enjoy our programs. Local residents, day visitors, and nearby Mount Nebo State Park visitors are all welcome!

Other Darnell Lake camping parks include Old Post Road, Piney Bay and Shoal Bay.

Old Post Road is a camping hotspot at Dardanelle Lake, with numerous opportunities for boating, biking, hiking and birding. The 37 reservable campsites offer water and electric hookups. A playground and multiple picnic areas make the park perfect for families and parties. The nearby Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge offers excellent wildlife viewing and photography.

Piney Bay has more than 60 reservable campsites, all equipped with electric hookups, along with a large group picnic shelter. Campers enjoy hot showers, two boat ramps, a playground and an amphitheater with educational programs.  Attractions nearby Piney Bay include Bona Dea Trails and Sanctuary, with nearly 86 acres of wetlands and low woods, provide an ideal habitat for native wildlife. Visitors can explore the area on the six-mile trail system.

Shoal Bay offers 53 reservable campsites, most of which have electric hookups. Two large picnic shelters are also available.  Amenities include a boat ramp, playground and hot showers.

Privately-owned marinas and boat docks are located in both the Russellville and Dardanelle areas.


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