The Dyrt Pro

Little Rock, AR

Joined August 2018

Pick up 3 pieces of litter at every outdoor destination. Never use lighter fluid to start a fire.

Ozarks family camping

This place has a small RV loop with a full bathhouse, as well as a loop of walk-in tent sites with access to two nearby toilets and sinks (but not showers). Unfortunately, the loop is little compressed; both too close to the road noise and to neighbors across the median area in the center of the loop. Also, the pool is reported to be permanently closed, and you need to hop in the car to get to the playground and hiking trailheads. They could do a better job redesigning the layout of things to fix these issues and add privacy as well as easy access to the recreation features.

Pluses are: a nice Ozarks setting. We enjoyed War Eagle trail even though the cave is closed, because it offers some great views. We found the second half of it too risky with our young child, due to steep dropoffs and wet conditions. Also, we took side trips to Eureka Springs and two pretty waterfalls along the gravel county roads near Forum, Ark. Overall, a worthwhile destination.

Nice State Park

The grounds and campsites are fairly spaced and well cared for. Yurts are also available and have more privacy than the ones I’ve seen at other parks like Lake Catherine. For activities, there are plenty to choose from, like swimming or boating in the lake, horseback riding, golf, etc. There is a restaurant and playground nearby at the lodge.

First to Review
Not too enticing

The tents-only loops are not bad although the bathrooms are small. One loop for tents is on the water. Apart from that, the campground needs improvement. RV sites are much too close together and many of the parking pads and picnic tables are haphazardly placed. This COE campground seems to mostly be used by those with a boat to launch. DeGray Lake State Park down the road is better built and cared for, in terms of camping appeal.

Corps camping on Lake DeGray

Smaller than its neighbor Caddo, and with a swim beach. The sites vary in length and width, as well as desirability. The concrete ones generally seem nicer than the asphalt ones. The campsites at nearby DeGray Lake Resort State Park are much more built out with wooden edging around large pads, whereas at the COE campgrounds you get a simpler setup of table, pole, and parking. If State Park isn’t full I would choose it instead.

Simple, quiet in the thick of the outdoors

Beware the swarms of ticks you may encounter if you come here in the wrong month and stand in the wrong place. This is primitive camping that comes with the attendant bugs. Consider yourself advised: pretreat with Permethrin or bring lots of bug dope. Other than that, this campsite offers access to some beautiful areas with water and hiking. It could be a destination of its own, or a traveler's stop on the way to/from the Calico Rock, the White River, Buffalo National River, Blanchard Springs Caverns, Ozark Folk Center, and other fine Arkansas places. After a day of Natural State tourist attractions, you might like some Natural State peace and quiet here.

Sunrise to sunset, Nebo has a good view

A great Arkansas destination for outdoorsy people.The steep road climbing to the top of Mount Nebo keeps the big RVs away. Stop your car at the lookout point before you reach the top. When you arrive, walk into the Visitor's Center and right through the other door on the back to take in the view and step right onto a nice hiking trail. The campground has an open feel, so you might see cars going by on the main road, or strike up a conversation with your camping neighbors. It is nonetheless a nice place, particularly the sites that overlook the bluff. If you have kids, there are two sites that back up directly to a playground. For tent campers, the real draw is the hike-in campsites, which are easy to hike to on a flat, wide trail that circles the top of the mountain (similar in width to a fire road), or the various other well maintained hiking paths that parallel or criss-cross it. Wake up and check out the view at Sunrise Point, enjoy a day of hiking and other activities, then top it off with the view at Sunset Point.

Hiking to views, history, and BBQ

This campground is small, and being a National Park campground it is pricey. Its sites are also first-come-first-served campsites. But, if you come at the right time of year (when it's not too hot out) the hiking is terrific. From the campground, you can cross the creek and hike up the hill to an awesome lookout, stop at the top of the hill and visit the tower (for a fee, but it is worthwhile both for the view as well as reading the plaquards to learn the history of the area). Then continue hiking over the hill and down the other side to Hot Springs Bathhouse Row, where you can fill your bottle/jug with piping hot spring water. The Promenade and Bathhouse Row are the best part of Hot Springs to explore, including the National Park museum bathhouse. Back at the campground, you can take a short hike in a different direction through the woods to end up at a little BBQ restaurant. And finally, drive or hike to the trail called "Balanced Rock". It too is a worthwhile hike if you reach the namesake boulder balanced upon another boulder.

Popular spot with hiking and water activities

Stay in an RV, yurt, or tent when you're at Lake Catherine. When there's been rain, there is a gorgeous waterfall along a very nice hiking trail called Falls Branch. The longer hiking loop trail offers a couple of nice vistas from its high points. If you want to take a short float trip, call ahead to find out what times water from the dam gets released. Enjoy!

Easy getaway from Little Rock

Lake Sylvia recreation area offers a lot of fun and relaxation within an easy drive from Little Rock. We ate dinner in town at Izzy's on Highway 10, and got to the campground with enough time to set up before dark.

The primitive camping loop is especially attractive and not a single soul was utilizing it last weekend. Even those tent camping seemed to want access to the electrical outlets on the main loop. Or possibly the hot showers: the primitive sites have their own bathroom with lights and plumbing but the showers are not heated except in the main bathhouse among the hookups sites. The sites in the primitive loop are $5/night lower than the sites with water and electric.

The main camping loop is nice for small to medium campers. No Class A rigs here. Nobody claimed the campsite on either side, affording us plenty of privacy, and just a short walk to the bathhouse. We enjoyed the hiking trails around the lake, and hiking a short way up to the Ouachita Trail.

The swim beach is a great spot that is used as a day area. There are also fishing spots down the bank. The rules say that dogs are not permitted at the day use area, but we saw a couple of dogs with their owners and the ranger who drove by either didn’t notice or didn’t enforce it, I guess. Which isn’t a big deal, except that I wish they’d either enforce it or change the rules to match the practice. If it’s permitted I’d have brought my own dog to join in the fun instead of leaving it behind.

Several paces up a trail from the campground is a small amphitheater with a wooden stage. It looked like an awesome place to set up a portable projector for a movie night.

If this campground were open year round, I would give it five stars - with access to good hiking here (including the Ouachita Trail), it is a shame that the campground is closed in late fall and early spring. Its website even states that the best time to visit is Fall-Spring. Still a wonderful place to try; just make sure you check that it's open before you go.

Lovely park; I skipped the best part!

We had a great weekend at White Oak Lake, enjoying having the tents-only loop to ourselves, fishing (some basic tackle is available in the Visitor Center), meeting friendly people on the playground, being around lake scenery and wildlife. However, due to rain and our travel schedule we left without going to the nearby Little Grand Canyon, and I kick myself for it every time I think of it. Google Arkansas Little Grand Canyon at White Oak Lake to see this amazing rock formation. I would love to go back.

Convenient location but not ideal for tent campers

Located within a 20-minute drive of most Little Rock homes, and just about five minutes from Pinnacle Mountain and Two Rivers Park, this campground is conveniently located for local recreation. The campsites along the Maumelle River have a pretty view, but tend to be already held down by RVs like ducks in a row. There are some nice sites on the other side of the road, even if they offer little in the way of privacy. If you might make use of the large field for a ball game or kite flying, for instance, you could choose one of the sites that back up to it. Among the downsides, you can't escape urban markers like fencing, lights, and noises at this campground (there is a marina close by). However, you can get outside, enjoy a fire and some fresh air, with easy access back to the grocery store or restaurants as needed.

First to Review
Nice large campground with swim areas

Shiloh is one of many Corps of Engineers (COE) campgrounds around Greers Ferry Lake. It has lake access including swim beaches, a playground, and more. The sand tends to get dumped in ad-hoc piles, leaving the wide, concrete approach to the water slimy and slick. You'll likely place your chair directly on the concrete, for lack of a better place, so bring ample sun protection. Watch for poison ivy if you wander into the wooded areas. The group campsite area is nicely forested but is typically closed and some other sites near the water might be closed if there has been flooding.

Worth a visit

There is enough nature to make this campground worth a visit. Rent a canoe or kayak and get out on the water, and hopefully see some wildlife. My favorite sites in the tent loop (B) would be site numbers 71 and 73.

Swimming hole perfection

Tent campers have the better camping loop at this campground, closer to the water, nicer sites, most with plenty of trees for shade. You can drive up to the less attractive and less conveniently located RV loop to use the showers, if you need them. Some campsites are just a football-field distance from the rocky swim beach, while others sit either nestled in the woods or overlooking the creek from above on a small bluff. The big draw is the charming swimming area with its imposing trio of rocks that swimmers love to jump off of. Pets are not permitted around or in the water, so we prefer to leave our dog at home when visiting here. Hiking from the campground is terrific, too, particularly when the water is flowing to make waterfalls. Long Pool is a must-visit camping destination for Arkansas residents.

Floating and boating

This is one of several campgrounds to choose from around Greers Ferry Lake that are operated by the Corps of Engineers (COE), and there are a few good reasons to choose it. A good amount of sand is dumped near the swim beaches, improving on the natural and concrete poured banks. There is a good breakfast buffet up the road at Janssen's. A bit farther away, the Little Red at Indian Hill's is well reviewed by foodies, though I haven't tried it. This COE campground has a nicer feel than the one at the Fairfield Bay Marina, yet is still within a reasonable distance to visit the marina for a ferry ride to the island Sugarloaf Mountain (a must-do 1-2 hour hike with terrific views of the lake). Although, I have not tried Sugar Loaf campground, which also offers a dock and marina within sight of the mountain. On the downside at Devil's Fork, most sites are a long walk away from the bathhouse with showers. The toilets that do not have a shower smell strongly of human waste by evening hours, so avoid campsites directly by them.

First to Review
First-come, first-served camping on the lake

Don't confuse 'Cove Creek' campground with 'Cove Lake' at the bottom of Mount Magazine, a couple hours drive to the west. This campground on Greers Ferry Lake is shared by RVers and tent campers. It does not allow advance reservations, which can work for or against you, depending on the circumstances. My favorite sites are: C13, C18, C19, C30. If you're coming with friends, make a beeline for the best doubles: C29+C29A (or, backup: C28+C28A) so you can camp side-by-side and are just a few steps down to the water for fishing, nature viewing, and floating.

Nimrod Lake with a nearby primitive camping area

While overall for RV campers I think Quarry Cove is the nicer setting on Nimrod Lake, if you're going with a tent or a group then Carter Cove might be the best choice. There is a side dirt road that leads to primitive group campsites near the lake. If you plan to use the Primitive area, make a phone call to the Army COE first, as they require you to fill out a permit. Though there is no bathhouse or water in that particular area; it is secluded and offers a lake view. I am not aware of any hiking in the area, but you can bike along the roads or put a kayak or canoe in the water. Fishing would also be fun. In the Carter Cove campground, one of the loops is set up for groups, with campsites connected by short trails. Call ahead if you plan to make use of those parts of the campground. If you are bringing a camper, be aware that many sites share water hookups so the spigot can be far away. Bring an extra hose - a long one.

Not a bad location for RVs and cabins near the Cossatot River but...

Given that the gorgeous Cossatot River has a State Park but its campgrounds are up a few miles of hilly gravel road and offer no plumbing or electricity, you may be searching for more comfy accommodations as a jumping off point to hike or kayak. Lake Gillham campground is unfortunately too far away to be convenient. The CRSP park rangers may mention this RV park, if you inquire, or you might find it yourself on a map. The location is convenient enough - just a few minutes' drive down the road from the Visitors Center. The owners are very friendly and helpful. The setting is adequate: it's close to the road and offers fire ring, picnic table, and a gravel pad. The thing that ruined our stay were some of the regular clientele who were downright creepy/frightening. Think, disintegrating trailers, abusive yelling late at night, unkempt heavy drinkers with leering eyes. In spite of the pluses, I would not feel comfortable staying here again. Perhaps the cabins are distanced enough from the RV part to feel safe.

Died and went to Austin ... but first: camping

If you live in Austin or are visiting, why not take a little side camping trip to McKinney Falls. There's camping, water, and hiking trails. We missed out on the trail we planned on due to some December flooding, but the water spilling over the rocks was picturesque. It felt good to sleep under the stars, and combined with time spent in Austin it made for a wonderful vacation.

Unique place to explore

It's great that there is a State Park right on this special lake. Don't forget your camera! And bug dope, as the bugs might swarm you as soon as you step out of your vehicle (a little DEET keeps them away). Rent a canoe from the park or get a list of local outfitters and boat guides from the Visitor Center. If you're willing to take a short drive from the campground, a guided tour is a fun way to get the history of the area with kids (otherwise, you can read about it in the park's literature and paddle yourself). If you want to get up close and personal with the cypress groves and moss, I recommend advance reservations to be taken out on the water in a Go-Devil boat; the regular boats can't get close to the cypress knees in the shallow water. The bathrooms at the campground are likely to be far from your campsite (they're adding a new bathhouse in 2018, and the temporary ones are quite nice but were a long walk from our site). Bicycles are convenient if you can bring them. We had fun biking around the trails, too.