Recreation


Hiker and mountain bikers on a scenic mountain trail overlooking a lake

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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

NOTE: Our campsites are available on a first-come/ first-served basis. No reservations! Except for one - Cedar Lake Campground in the Oklahoma Ranger District can be reserved through recreation.gov

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Recreation Conditions Report

Area Name Status Area Conditions
Albert Pike Day Use Open Day use/swimming only. Open 4/1/22 to 9/30/22
Bard Springs Recreation Area Temporarily Closed 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. The gate is closed and walk-in only.
Bear Creek Trail & Horse Camp Open No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only. Bear Creek Equestrian Campground is open. Restrooms are also open.
Bear Mountain Shooting Range Open Closed on Mondays 6:00 - 9:00 am for grounds maintenance. No restrooms.
Big Brushy Creek Day Use Open Day Use Only. Restroom open.
Billy Creek Recreation Area Open No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only. No drinking water available. No trash pickup; therefore, pack it in, pack it out.
Camp Clearfork Open Open 4/9/22 to 10/31/22. Call the Womble Office at (870) 867-2101 for more information.
Cedar Lake Recreation Area Open Open. The Northshores Day Use Area is closed for the season, and will reopen Spring 2022. Reservations are available through Recreation.gov for those sites that can be reserved. Check out the current recreation schedule for more information on this campground and others onthe Ouachita National Forest. Contact the District Office for additional information: 918-653-2991. 
Charlton Recreation Area Open Open for the season. Day use area open 4/29/22 to 10/3/22; Campground open 4/29/22 to 11/7/22. Campground Loop A opens 5/20/22. No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only. 
Collier Springs Day Use Open Open all year - Picnic/Day Use Only
Crystal Campground Open No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only. Open all year. No charge - no water or electric available. Restroom is open.
Dragover Day Use Open Day use only. River access. Restroom closed.
Dutch Creek CCC Day Use Open CCC Camp. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. 
Fourche Mountain Recreation Area Open Open all year! No water or electricity available. No charge. Restroom closed.
Fulton Branch Day Use Open Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom is open.
Horsethief Springs Day Use Open Restroom open.
Iron Springs Day Use Open Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Jack Creek Recreation Area Open No reservations available. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only.  No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Kerr Memorial Arboretum Closed Closed
Knoppers Ford Day Use Open Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. 
Lake Sylvia Recreation Area None Lake Sylvia and Camp Ouachita are managed by Arkansas State Parks.
Little Missouri Falls Trailhead Open Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available.  Restrooms open.
Little Pines Recreation Area Open No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only. The boat ramp and access for Lake Hinkle are open all year.  For more information, contact the Poteau/Cold Springs District Ranger Office at (479) 637-4174.
Old Military Road Day Use Open Open - restrooms closed
Peeler Gap Shooting Range Open No restroom available
Pigeon Roost Shooting Range Open No restrooms.
Pipe Springs Day Use Open Restrooms closed
Reed Mountain Shooting Range Open No restrooms
River Bluff Day Use Open Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restrooms are open.
Rocky Shoals Day Use Open River access. Open all year. Day-use only. No charge. No water/electric available. Restroom open.
Shady Lake Open No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only. 
Shirley Creek Day Use Open River access. Day Use only. Restroom closed.
South Fourche Recreation Area Open No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only. Open all year. No water/electric available. Restrooms are open.
Talimena National Scenic Byway Open 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 No reservations. Sites available on a first-come/first-based only.
Wolf Pen Gap Open For more information, contact the Mena-Oden Ranger District at 479-394-2382. Note: The trail system does close when heavy rain is predicted.      

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.

Overview:

The campground is made up of three (3) loops with 46 campsites, ranging in amenities of no services to campsites with electric, water and sewer provided. Bathhouse with warm showers and flush toilets are provided. Day use hosts spring fed swimming site with some of the area's coldest water found in the area, even during the hottest of summer temperatures. A 1-mile nature trail can be found near the campground and connections to the 40-mile Lake Ouachita Vista Trail lead from the campground as well. Charlton Campground is located 18-miles west of Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.

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.

Overview:

The campground is made up of four camping loops, with 66 campsites, ranging in amenities of no services to campsites with electric and water services provided. Bathhouses with warm showers and flush toilets. Day use hosts a swimming site, picnic pavilions, restrooms, picnic tables with BBQ grills and a 3-mile hiking trail that follows the shoreline of Shady Lake. Campsites can accommodate RV's up to 32-feet in length. Shady Lake is located approximately 40-miles west of Glenwood, Arkansas.

 

Recreation Areas