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Mount Magazine is a mountaintop oasis in NW AR. It is definitely NOT a family SP. It is structured for adults to enjoy a peaceful, tranquil, serene campground. The campground is small and has a typical setup with 30/50A, water, fire ring and picnic table. There are only 18 sites and are booked WELL in advance. We had to book our site almost a year in advance.
There is not much to do in the campground. There is access to hiking trails and to Signal Hill (the highest point in AR). The lodge is gorgeous and the restaurant has a buffet on Friday nights that is very good. There was an annual yoga retreat the weekend we were there which crowded the lodge, but the cabins and lodge have beautiful views of the valley.
Mt. Magazine is an amazing park (for adults), and make an effort to get there!
This lake and the trails around it were absolutely gorgeous. Not far from Mt Magazine and the water was so clean and the campgrounds were fantastic.
I went to Mt Magazine in the fall and it is truly a spectacular park. For anyone with kids, I would say at the outset that this isn't a very kid-friendly park. No playgrounds, very, very mountainous, and generally just not a park for kids. With that said, if you're a hiker, photographer or someone who can't wait to chase down the spectacular view, this park is for you. Also, Magazine is one of the few parks that offers climbers great opportunities to work their skills. The park essentially sits on top of a bluff that is nearly surrounded on all sides by straight rock face. There is ample opportunity for anyone into repelling or climbing to indulge themselves.
Magazine is one of the smallest parks I've been to. There aren't many camping sites at all. Each site is large and the camping area is spread out quite a bit. It's a great place to achieve some seclusion. To that end, there ins't much at the park. It's definitely a place where you need to pack well and plan to cook. It isn't easy to get anywhere at all. That's particular true if you don't have a vehicle that handles elevation well. Further, due to the elevation and drastic temperature change from the base of the mountain and the campground, it frankly isn't safe at all to drive on the mountain in the early morning or evening. I've included a picture to give you an idea of the type of fog I had to drive through on my way to the campsite at about 11:30 in the morning. One evening on our trip, we were stupid enough to attempt the trek at night and I seriously couldn't see 1 foot in front of my truck. My advice, stay on the mountain. The campground is like most Arkansas parks. It's very well kept and clean and the bath house was very nice as far as state parks go. You can't go wrong.
Apart from the campsites, I would add another note for anyone with a spouse like mine who would prefer to stay in places that look like ski lodges instead of our PUP. This place fits the bill and some. The lodge on top of the mountain is spectacular and looks like something you would see in the mountains of Colorado. During our trip, my brother and I ate dinner one night at the lodge and went with the surf and turf buffet - good choice, Donny; very good choice. There's also a bar in the lodge, among other things. The view off the back porch of the lodge is one of the best I've seen save for maybe Petit Jean. Apparently Mt Nebo is better but I haven't been yet. I am going this fall so I may have to update this post if it is. Either way, the back porch of the Lodge is equipped with several large rocking chairs and it is definitely a place to catch up on some tranquility and peaceful gazing. Most of the rooms in the lodge have private balconies that look out over the mountain as well. If your significant other isn't a "camper," they will definitely be pleased with the accommodations at the lodge.
Overall, if you want a place to escape for a weekend and get the feel of a high-end ski lodge for half the cost, this is your place. It's essentially camping in the heavens with the spectacular views and sunsets from all angles. The only thing I would add as a last note of advice is this: the temperature is literally about 10-15 degrees cooler on the mountain than below. One night we were there it got down to mid teens. So unless you're going in July, I would recommend you pack a pair of pants, long sleeves and maybe even a light jacket. You will probably be cold otherwise.
I've stayed here a couple of times the night before starting my hike on the Ouachita Trail. The OT is a 200+ mile trail and this is park is the Western Terminus. The park has tent and RV sites. The tent sites are level and clean.
The bathrooms and showers are very clean. It is a great place to grab a shower after a few days hiking. The showers have plenty of hot water and the water comes out a good rate to make it easy to knock off that trail dirt.
For a small daily fee you can park your car here for the duration of the hike. I have left my car here several times with no issues.
I loved this trail!! So pretty and full of great camping spots
Springhill Park in Fort Smith is yet another great U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground and recreation area. We are huge fans of Corps parks for numerous reasons and this one did not disappoint. The campground is set among tall trees adjacent to the John Paul Hammerschmidt Lake and James W. Trimble Lock and Dam of the Arkansas River. The park is located in Barling, Arkansas which is just a short drive from downtown Fort Smith. The area offers plenty of sights to see (especially for history buffs) and interesting things to do.
The campground is open year-round. Campsites can be booked on-line at recreation.gov except during the off-season (Nov- Feb) when all sites are walk-in. The park has 44 total sites divided into two loops– one with 30 amp electric (A loop) and the other with 50 amp (B loop). Water is available at some sites and at the centrally-located dump station. Finding out which sites have water on recreation.gov is a bit confusing. When looking at the “site list” page you will notice no sites have water listed as an“amenity” but it does list the electric. To find out if a site has water, click on the link for specific details of a particular site and it will indicate if there is water hook ups.
All sites and roads are paved and easy to navigate in a big rig. Many sites are very long with only eleven sites being less than 45’ in length(and only seven under 40’). One major downside of this park is that only about half the sites(in Loop B) were not flat enough for us to get level without having the wheels off the ground. Smaller RVs or trailers that use blocks instead of automatic leveling jacks should be able to get level. All sites have a picnic table and fire pit. The sites in A Loop(pictured below) have a paved parking space adjacent to the paved RV pad. Campsites are closer together and have fewer trees creating a more open feel than in the B Loop but do back-up to a small pond that makes for a nice view.
We stayed in site B1 and loved the privacy and tall trees surrounding the site and the large grassy field next to us. Sites B9 and B11 have great views of the water and offer plenty of room between you and your neighbor while others are tucked nicely into the trees. The patios in B Loop(pictured to the right) have a concrete patio on a cement pad. Most of the patios are located at the back of the campsite. We picked up roughly 15 television channels (including the three major networks) with our antenna. Trees may prevent you from getting satellite if your dish is fixed on the roof.
Located in both loops are a bath/shower building(which were very clean), playground, and pavilion. There are hiking/mountain biking trails that leave from the campground. Mountain biking is a big deal here and there is a 10-mile"fast" trail where experienced bikers race frequently. Other amenities include basketball courts, boat launch and picnic pavilions.
The park is a few miles from Fort Smith proper and about eight miles to downtown attractions including the National Historical Park. Within two miles are a few restaurants, gas station, and a super Walmart is less than four miles away. The area immediately surrounding the park is a nice part of town that felt safe to us. What we liked was that this park has well-spaced sites, a nice wooded setting and a site with the amenities of electric, water, and a pavement. The location was great to downtown Fort Smith so you didn’t feel isolated if you wanted to go sight-seeing, out to eat, or shopping. Being right on the lake meant we could easily go kayaking or fishing and there were plenty of places to walk throughout the property. Access to the park is easy and manageable for a big-rig towing a car. The price$20/night (or$10 for senior pass holders) is quite the deal. This park is great for dogs with lots of room to walk, trails, and places to swim.
The only ding was that if this park would have had sewer at the site. But we loved it anyway and would definitely stay here again. The other ding this park gets is the fact that so many sites are unlevel.
If you are ever driving through Arkansas a trip to Mount Magazine State Park is a must. Mount Magazine is the state’s highest point topping out at 2,753 feet and delivers sweeping views of broad valleys, lakes, winding rivers, and distant mountains. The rugged rock outcroppings protrude from the densely wooded forests. What makes this park even more spectacularly beautiful is that it is surrounded by National Forest lands encompassing glorious acres of woods.
In the late 1800’s, the railroad made travel easier and people were drawn to the area for its cooler weather and awe-inspiring scenic beauty. Resort lodges and restaurants sprang up and the resort “Town of Mount Magazine” began. Soon a post office, parks, streets and a dance pavilion dotted the town. The town took a turn when drought, erosion, and the Great Depression brought the town to collapse. The 1934 Resettlement Act purchased all the private land on the mountain and was shortly transferred to the U.S. Forest Service. In the late 1930’s and 40’s, the Works Progress Administration built campgrounds, trails, cabins, and a lodge were constructed. A fire destroyed the lodge in 1971. In 1998, Arkansas State Parks entered into a cooperative agreement with the USDA Forest Service to develop Mount Magazine State Park. The lodge reopened in 2006 and graces the same beautiful setting as the original structure.
We found this park very relaxing which is kind of amazing because there is so much for outdoor enthusiasts to do making it hard to sit still. There are miles and miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, hang gliding launches, cycling, and some of the most dramatic locations for rock climbing and rappelling. The diverse mountain ecosystem offers amazing bird watching and wildlife viewing and provides habitat for over 90 species of butterflies. Many were brightening the woods when we were there. We were there at a time when wildflowers were blooming so the forest floor was lit up with color. The higher altitude and cooler weather on the mountain meant that trees had not leafed out yet but a look down in the valley was a stark contrast with trees fully leafed out. The park has a relatively small campground with a meek 18 sites with full hook-up (two of which are 50 amp). Campsites are well-spaced with gravel pads and patios with fire pits and picnic tables. We so enjoyed hanging around our campsite but for those that don’t camp you will be perfectly comfortable in the lodge or cabins.
The Lodge at Mount Magazine has breath-taking views and some rooms have spa tubs on their balconies to enjoy the view. Thirteen cabins dot the ridge line offering the same awesome views and Jacuzzi tub options on your balcony. At the lodge is The Skycrest Restaurant which is a nice treat for those not wanting to cook. We decided to have drinks one evening on the veranda enjoying the setting sun lighting the valley. The next day we popped in for lunch where $6 got a plate of open-face prime rib sandwich, mashed potatoes, salad, and squash casserole. Pretty good deal if you ask us.
This state park so worked for us. It was the combination of the reading in a quiet wooded campground, being able to go to the lodge for a drink, lunch and great view and spending hours walking in the woods. The park is a good 30 minutes drive from the nearest town so you may want to stock up so you can just relax on the mountain.