Recreation

[Picture]: Recreational Activities

So Much To Do & See
The Ouachita National Forest is located primarily in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Outstanding mountain views coupled with picturesque streams, rivers, and lakes provide a unique and highly valued setting for outdoor recreation.  The forest offers high quality nature related-sightseeing, scenic driving, hunting, fishing, and dispersed camping.  Learn about the areas rich history at wayside exhibits along a scenic drive or experience unique botanical, mineral, and prehistoric resources featured in information and educational programs.  An extensive trail system provides for all types of uses including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicles (OHV) riding.  A variety of services can be found at developed campgrounds ranging from rustic tent pads to full-service RV hookups.  Enjoy exceptional water-based recreation opportunities including fishing, non-motorized boating, and passive enjoyment of streams, rivers and lakes.

Current recreation fees and schedule

Dispersed Camping in the Forest:

Many people enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers. Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping means no services; such as trash removal, and little or no facilities; such as tables and fire pits, are provided. There are extra responsibilities and skills that are necessary for dispersed camping. It is your responsibility to know these before you try this new experience. Be sure to read the guidelines before heading out.

Visitors are primarily responsible for their own safety. Keep in mind, trails and roads may be open for use, but please recreate responsibly and follow public health guidelines regarding social distancing while you recreate in National Forests. Law enforcement and search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues. High risk activities such as rock climbing or motorized activities that increase your chance of injury or distress should be avoided. For the most current and accurate information about COVID-19, contact your local health officials or visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov. Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is available at: www.usda.gov/coronavirus.

Forest Orders: 

An order may close an area to entry or may restrict the use of an area by applying prohibitions authorized in the Code of Federal Regulations. View a list of current forest orders.

Outdoor Safety & Ethics

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Albert Pike Day Use Open to Visitor Open for day-use only.  Open 4/1/21 to 9/30/21
Bard Springs Recreation Area Closed to Visitor Storms during April 2020 caused damage to the campground and day-use area. The campground remains closed. The Day-use area is open, including restroom.
Bear Creek Trail & Horse Camp Open to Visitor Bear Creek Equestrian Campground is open. Restrooms are also open.
Bear Mountain Shooting Range Open to Visitor Closed on Mondays 6:00 - 9:00 am for grounds maintenance. No restrooms.
Big Brushy Creek Day Use Open to Visitor Day Use Only. Restroom open.
Billy Creek Recreation Area Open to Visitor Open - restroom closed
Camp Clearfork Closed to Visitor Closed for the 2021 season. Call the Womble Office at (870) 867-2101 for more information.
Cedar Lake Recreation Area Open to Visitor Shady Lake Campsites availability based on weather, season, and current construction conditions in the area. Contact the District Office for additional information: 918-653-2991. Please check the status updates posted at this link regarding ongoing construction at the campground. Also, check out the current recreation schedule for more information. The day-use areas and group picnic shelters will open 4/1/21 through 11/1/21. Sandy Beach remains closed due to plumbing damage; however, Shady Lane is open.
Charlton Recreation Area Open to Visitor 5/6/21 Open!
Campground open 5/1/21 - 11/1/21. Campground Loop A (tent sites) to open 5/23/21 - 11/1/21
Collier Springs Day Use Open to Visitor Open all year - Picnic/Day Use Only
Crystal Campground Open to Visitor Open all year. No charge - no water or electric available. Restroom is open.
Dragover Day Use Open to Visitor Day use only. River access. Restroom closed.
Dutch Creek CCC Day Use Open to Visitor CCC Camp. Open for the season 3/1/21 to 12/3/21. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Fourche Mountain Recreation Area Open to Visitor Open all year! No water or electricity available. No charge. Restroom closed.
Fulton Branch Day Use Open to Visitor Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom is open.
Horsethief Springs Day Use Open to Visitor Restroom open.
Iron Springs Day Use Open to Visitor Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Jack Creek Recreation Area Open to Visitor Opened seasonally from 3/1/21 to 10/18/21. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Kerr Memorial Arboretum Closed to Visitor Closed
Knoppers Ford Day Use Open to Visitor Opened seasonally from 3/1/21 to 10/18/21. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Lake Sylvia Recreation Area Open to Visitor Open for the season. Day-use and swim area to open 5/1/21 to 9/30/21. The campground and group campsite open 4/1/21 to 11/1/21
Little Missouri Falls Trailhead Open to Visitor Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available.  Restrooms open.
Little Pines Recreation Area Open to Visitor Currently open. The boat ramp and access for Lake Hinkle are open all year.  Open 3/1/21 to 12/3/21 For more information, please contact the Poteau/Cold Springs District Ranger Office at (479) 637-4174.
Old Military Road Day Use Open to Visitor Open - restrooms closed
Peeler Gap Shooting Range Open to Visitor No restroom available
Pigeon Roost Shooting Range Open to Visitor No restrooms.
Pipe Springs Day Use Open to Visitor Restrooms closed
Reed Mountain Shooting Range Open to Visitor No restrooms
River Bluff Day Use Open to Visitor Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restrooms are open.
Rocky Shoals Day Use Open to Visitor River access. Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Shady Lake Open to Visitor Open for the season. Open for the season 4/15/21 to 11/30/21
Shirley Creek Day Use Open to Visitor River access. Day Use only. Restroom closed.
South Fourche Recreation Area Open to Visitor Open all year. No water/electric available. Restrooms are open.
Talimena National Scenic Byway Open to Visitor The scenic byway is open year-round. The East End Visitor Information Center is closed. Restrooms are open.  For information, contact the Mena office at 479-394-2382
Winding Stair Campground Open to Visitor Some areas and trails may be closed due to prescribed fires. Please check the following website for maps, updates, and trail closures.
Wolf Pen Gap Open to Visitor Forest visitors are asked to avoid congregating at trailheads and parking areas and refrain from gathering in groups of 10 or more. The trail system does close when heavy rain is predicted. For more information, contact the Mena-Oden Ranger District at 479-394-2382.
     

Spotlights

Charlton Recreation Area

Charlton Recreation Area is located 20 miles west of Hot Springs along Highway 270.

Picnic, swim, hike, and fish along picturesque Walnut Creek, a cold, spring-fed mountain stream in the heart of the Ouachita National Forest. This historic recreation area features a captivating native stone dam that forms the swimming area and rustic bathhouse built by the Civilian Conservation Corps federal work program in 1935.

Information about Charlton Recreation Area.

Information about Charlton Recreation Area - Spanish

Other recreation sites within the Caddo/Womble Ranger District

Shady Lake

Scenic 25-acre lake in remote mountain setting.The Civilian Conservation Corps developed the Shady Lake Recreation Area in 1937. The Shady Lake Trail traverses Saline Creek and passes the historic Shady Lake Dam. It continues along the eastern edge of the campground. The trail is ideal for day hiking. Mountain bikers may also use the trail.

 



https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/ouachita/recreation