My family and I live about 25 min from the campground at Meeman-Shelby State Park. We have been several times and have camped with tents, pop-ups, and now with our Geo-Pro. We love this campground.
Pros: -49 available sites -all sites with water, 30A, fire ring, grill and picnic table -a variety of hiking/biking trails -update playground -lake with rental kayaks, canoes, boats (in season) -fully functioning bathhouse that is dated but clean
Cons: -no sewer at any sites -some sites on the back sides of the camp ground are subject to erosion and can be unlevel and not ideal for kids -large park so many of the activities outside the campground require driving -1 bathhouse which can be an issue on certain weekends -MOSQUITOS. If you go after the weather warms up, be forewarned that the mosquitos will eat you alive. We mostly camp at Meeman-Shelby in the fall/winter. We do not camp Spring/Summer.
There is a disc golf course that is very popular. There is a nature center that is under renovation that has snakes, spiders and owls to see. There are cabins to rent but we have never stayed in one. They look nice from the outside.
I’ve included several pictures of camp sites and the grounds. All in all, Meeman-Shelby is a great park and is perfect for families. Make sure to schedule a friday night dinner at the General Store. Steak and live music that sets the tone for a great camping weekend!
Petit Jean is the oldest state park in Arkansas and it has it all. Our family makes a trip to Petit Jean at least twice a year. So many trails, recreational areas and breathtaking views to enjoy. It is one of the best FAMILY state parks we’ve been too.
The sites in A and B loop are often booked a year in advance so plan your trips strategically. C and D loop are accommodating but will be a tighter fit for most rigs >30’.
The visitor’s center is being completely redone to enhance the experience. If you haven’t been, make the trip.
Quick info on alcohol. Petit Jean is in a dry county (yes that exists). If you aren’t bringing your own alcohol, make sure and stop at Petit Jean Liquor right off I-40.
Lake Ft. Smith State Park is a beautiful park in the Boston Mountains. We drove over from Memphis to meet my brother’s family (who lives in Tulsa). We stayed in campsite 9 which was a pull through site and had stunning views of the lake. My brother stayed in site 8. Sites 1-20 have full hook-ups with sewer. The bathhouse was clean and fully functioning.
Pros: Many activities at the Visitor Center for children. Ozark Highland Trail is directly behind the campsites on the lake side. Recreational area with a playground that is updated. Sites have gravel which limits how much dirt/mud you have to deal with.
Cons: Many of the campsites are on a grade. They all have multiple levels with stairs and have no railings. We had 5 children <6 years of age and the sites were somewhat perilous. If you are a parent with small kids, sites 17-20 and sites 2-3 are better. The other sites are excellent, but not necessarily best for small kids. Last, the playground requires that you drive to it which is inconvenient.
Overall: Great family park with updated amenities. We’d like to give it a try in the spring/summer when the pool and splash pad are open! If you’ve got small kids, Petit Jean State Park would be my suggestion in this area of Arkansas.