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Definitely my favorite park in Arkansas so far. It’s a really big park at the lake with lots to do. I was there in the fall so I didn’t do any lake stuff but still had a great time tent camping. There’s a nice hiking trail to explore. Also, the bathrooms were the cleanest I’ve ever seen at a state park. All the tent sites have a gravel pad, grill, picnic table and fire ring. There are also walk in tent sites on the peninsula which are nice and quiet. If you get one at the end I’d say it’s probably 200 meters to the parking lot and bathrooms. I peeked into one of the cabins and they look really nice. They also have camper cabins that have heat/air but no bathroom. In all there are 93 RV/tent sites, 8 cabins and 4 camper cabins. The park is also near Hot Springs so there is lots to do.
General: This popular state park offers many activities, although we did not partake in many of them, mostly because we were camping in the “shoulder” season. We arrived after the visitor center/office was closed but were able to find our site in the C Loop without too much difficulty. Garbage and recycling bins were located throughout the park; I appreciate the recycling effort all Arkansas state parks we have visited have.
Sites/Facilities: Our site was located on a “cul-de-sac” in Loop C and not too far from the bathroom. Each site in this loop had an electric hookup, a lantern hook, and picnic table. The sites in this loop were all very wooded which provided a decent amount of privacy between sites. It should be noted that some of the sites in the C loop (73-76?) were not level – we noticed this as we were leaving. The sites in the A loop are full hookup and directly on Lake Bailey and are more open (fewer trees). Site 16 is a large pull-through. It did appear that there was a fair amount of algae in the water. We did not explore the other loops. There is also an overflow camping area which I imagine would be full in the summer.
Bathhouse: The bathhouse was very clean and had soap dispensers, but you should bring your own towel. I didn’t use the shower so cannot comment on this, however, the changing area was in the open and not very private.
Activities/Amenities: There are many activities you can enjoy at this state park (most in season): swimming, tennis, basketball, a paved multi-use trail, hiking, plus a playground (not near the campground loops but you could access it via the paved trail). However, our main reason for staying here was to see Cedar Falls but that was not to be. The hiking trail was closed due to storm damage and very little rain meant you could not see the trickle the famed falls had become from the viewing platform. We did enjoy the short hike past the unique turtle rocks en-route to Rock House Cave.
Conclusion: Since we arrived after the office closed, we had to check-in before 10 am the next morning. The staff was not the friendliest, insisting we might have an outstanding balance (we reserved online so this should not have been the case) and not very helpful in describing open hiking trails.
We tent camped Loop C, site 74. The wooded site backed up on a creek that you can faintly hear at night. There was a large hill between us and the site on the right so they were not visible. The site on the left wasn’t super close and there were many trees between the two. There is a site directly across but 74 is set fairly far back from road and again, wooded. The restrooms were just round the bend and well maintained. It was not super crowded the week we were there but it was mid March. Highly recommend this site. Quiet hours were respected.
Wood and ice were available at The Visitor’s Center at $6.00 a bundle and $3.00 a bag. However, when we were there, the visitor’s center closed at 5. There is a very limited gift shop that has a few camping supplies. The nearest other store is at least 15/20 minutes away. Many of the locals also sell bundles of wood on the way into the park.
There were tons of things to do in the park. We just did the smaller hikes to Bear Cave and Rock House Cave. They say easy but only the 13 year old thought so, lol. Cedar Creek waterfall was very impressive! So many overlooks.
Drive Red Bluff drive for some impressive views! Speaking of great views, Petit Jean’s supposed grave offers an unbelievable view that I’m guessing is close to 275 degrees around. A must see for sure!
Well run and well kept. The state has spent a healthy amount into the buildings, grounds and maintenance. All of that complements a gorgeous natural setting.
It has a variety of hikes and plenty of other activities.
The Mather Cafe at the Lodge had decent food at okay prices - and a phenomenal view.
It’s worth the effort to see the Cedar Falls from both sides of the creek.
There is a nice coffee shop just outside the park’s east entrance.
Lots of varied camping spots - all seemed to be nicely wooded.
Our only negative point was a loud group of neighbors a few spots down. I think they were the only other ones in Camp D, but they made enough noise to make up for the empty spots.
At one point, judging by the whomping sound, they must have been playing a game that involved throwing a wet 5 pound sack of corn against a plywood wall…maybe some version of corn hole or something? I actually have no idea what it really was - but it was loud and repetitive. Louder than the barking dogs, screaming kids and music they played.
Not the parks fault and that is just part of camping - lots of great neighbors and sometimes inconsiderate ones.