House Boating, Scuba Diving, Camping, Hiking, Biking & Running-Lake Ouachita in Arkansas

Lake Ouachita has many unusual features. One feature by the Corps of Engineers is the Geo-Float Trail, a marked trail which can be followed with a brochure which details prominent geologic features along the route.  Lake Ouachita also features one of the largest crystal veins in the world. The lake has rare jellyfish (non-stinging) and sponges found in only very few of the cleanest freshwater lakes and therefore, is a favorite for swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers interested in exploring the underwater scenery.

House Boats for Rent

An alternative to camping, cabining or lodging, several Lake Ouachita offers a huge variety of large, group-size house boats for rent at several of its many marinas.

Ranging in size from 50 to over 90 feet, these luxurious floating vacation homes can sleep up to 15 people with full and Queen size beds, multiple living areas, bathrooms, kitchens and upper and lower decks.

Most also come ready for indoor entertainment with satellite TV, Surround Sound and other modern conveniences.  Some of the larger boats even come with washer/dryer appliances so you and your group can plan to stay aboard with clean clothes on the lake for several days!

Lake Ouachita State Park

For a more traditional camping or cabin stay, the Lake Ouachita State Park has 93 campsites (58 Class AAA, 23 Class D, and 12 walk-in tent sites), some right on the water. There are also four camper-cabins and eight fully equipped cabins with kitchens, most of them overlooking the lake. Other facilities include Caddo Bend trail, picnic tables, swimming areas, and a marina with boat and kayak rentals, bait, and supplies. Historic Three Sisters’ Springs is in the park. There are also exhibits and a gift shop inside the visitor center where you can purchase fishing supplies.

Park Ranger interpretive programs such as guided hikes, eagle cruises, and kayak tours are offered year-round. The state park is near Hot Springs and Hot Springs Village.

Scuba Diving Lake Ouachita

Scuba divers from all over the world enjoy the underwater experience as well as the special spear fishing season. Lake Ouachita has hundreds of miles of shoreline and more places to dive than one can visit in a lifetime. All but a small handful do require the diver to use a boat.

Here’s a list of favorite scuba dive sites, their GPS location and skill rating on Lake Ouachita:

  • The Dam-Scuba Park- (Beg, Shore/Boat, N34.573 W93.195) The rip rap rock wall of Blakely Dam makes a nice beginner dive site due to its water clarity and gradual sloped rock bottom.
  • Fearless Rock Memorial – ( Beg, Shore/Boat, N34.57391,W93.19463)  This is a cool memorial placed in honor of local fallen soldier/navy seal Adam Brown.
  • Whirlpool Rock -(Inter,Boat, N34.589 W93.195) This site was named when the river would rise it would cause a whirlpool of water in this small pocket.
  • Crawdad Island – (Inter, Boat, N34.601 W 93.202) From the air, this small island is shaped like a crawdad, hence its name.
  • Zebra Rock – ( Inter, Boat, N34.611 W 93.204) This site is known for its dark rock cliffs with pure white veins of quartz running through them.
  • Checkerboard Point– (Inter, Boat, N34.6077 W93.248) This site is at Point #48 and is characterized by its fractured rocks in perfect squares that run from the top of the island all the way down into the lake.
  • East of #48 – (Beg, Boat, N34.609, W 93.243) This is the point directly east of Point #48 ( Checkerboard Point)
  • Railroad tracks -(Advanced, Boat, N34.639 W 93.226) As the lake was filled in the 1950’s they removed the steel from the railroad tracks, but they left the cross ties and many of the railroad spikes.Bus Stop – (Beg, Boat,
  • N34 36.17, W 93 18.41) Several years ago a school bus was sunk on this shallow water hump west of Hotel island.
  • Washboard Rock – (Inter, Boat N34.593, W93.239) This site is a steep set of rocks just inside a cove on the south side of the lake known as Italy Cove due to its obvious shape.
  • Platform Island– (Beg, Boat N34 deg 36.328, W93 deg 17.728) This site is on the west side of a turtle shell shaped island in a protected cove.
  • – (Beg,Boat N34 deg 60.872, W93 deg 20.930 )  Rumor has it that a UFO crash landed in Lake Ouachita several years ago, just off point #49.
  • Sunken houseboat and Sailboat – (Beg, Boat N34 deg 36.479, W93 deg 18.160 )On a shall water hump west of Hotel island and North of the School bus was recently sunk a large house boat and a Sailboat.
  • Horseshoe Island – (Beg, Boat N34.600945, W93.285547 ) This is a horseshoe shaped lonely island that offers a nice harbor from prevailing winds out of the SW..
  • Deep Picnic Point -( Inter, Boat N34.58405,W93.20381) Just an awesome dive.

Mountain Biking, Backpacking and Distance Running Lake Ouachita Vista Trail

Built over the last 10 or 15 years on both Corps of Engineers and US Forest Service land, the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail (LOViT) covers 40 plus miles of shoreline and ridge top tiding; a favorite for mountain bikers, backpackers and distance runners alike.  Distance runners will find the trail very enjoyable with a 26.2 mile marathon event in early December.

Visitors start at either end or one of several trailheads in the middle. The western end is lower lands with rolling hills between Joplin and Denby.

The middle includes tough climbs to the top of Hickory Nut Mountain where riders, hikers and runners can take in breathtaking views of Lake Ouachita and the Ouachita Mountains. The eastern section is dominated by a long ridge ride with more beautiful views.

Nearby are the towns of Mount Ida (home of the Womble Trail – IMBA Epic ) to the west and Hot Springs to the east. Various campgrounds and resorts dot the area near the trail giving visitors plenty of options to stay overnight.

 

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