Step Outside - Arkansas WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - Arkansas 144 144 Fri, 03 Dec 2021 16:34:10 -0600 5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in Arkansas The Natural State puts on a special show of color come autumn. To fully experience the beauty of these painted landscapes with palettes of orange, red, and yellow, strap on your hiking boots and head outdoors. Enjoy the rainbow of ever-changing leaves on these five stunning hikes in Arkansas.

This popular trail is known by two different names: Hawksbill Crag Trail and Whitaker Point Trail. Despite the name you call this stunning trail, it is a great hike for everyone and ends at one of the most photographed points in Arkansas. Hawks Bill Crag stretches hundreds of feet tall and has long-served as an amazing spot to explore. The trail itself is decorated with the natural beauty of the Ozarks. From forest to wildflower, your eyes will feast on the rich, wonderful colors that Arkansas is famous for.

Perhaps one of the most well-known hiking trails in the state of Arkansas, there is never a bad time to hike Lost Valley. Wildflower and medicinal plant folklore enthusiasts greatly enjoy this trail as it features a wide variety of species, including crested iris and Ozark trillium. The waterfalls in Lost Valley run best after a rain, but it’s as beautiful in the cooler months as it is in the spring.

You’ll experience nature and adventure at historic White Rock Mountain, in the Ozark National Forest. This majestic mountain stretches 2,260-feet above sea level, providing visitors with breathtaking scenic views. White Rock is a center for multiple national forest hiking trail systems, including the 1.5-mile loop around the rim of the mountaintop.  

Spanning 192 miles, the Ouachita National Recreational Trail is the longest trail in the Ouachita National Forest. Elevations on this trail range from 600 to 2,600 feet as it passes through forested mountains, valleys, and clear-running streams. 

Tanyard Creek Nature Trail is loop trail near Bella Vista. Best used from April until November, this dog-friendly trail features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels.

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5 Perfect Fall Camping Spots in Arkansas For a picturesque, pine-scented, foliage-painted camping experience, head to Arkansas for a fall camping getaway. With awe-inspiring views of the transforming landscapes, autumn in Arkansas is an experience that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Here are five perfect fall camping spots in the Natural State. 

One of the most popular activities at this naturally beautiful state park is camping. The campgrounds at Petit Jean State Park feature a total of 125 reservable campsites that are divided into four campground areas. Each area includes a modern bathhouse with hot showers and flush toilets. Folks who don’t own camping equipment can take advantage of the parks four rent-a-yurts that are available year-round. Petit Jean is Arkansas’ only state park with its own airport, so if you happen to be an aviation enthusiast you will enjoy the airport’s fly-in campground that features five amenity-filled tent sites.

What was once a thriving river port in the 1800s is now a beautiful, sprawling state park. At the park, you’ll find 20 Class A campsites with water and electric, a standard pavilion, picnic sites, playground, and the beautiful Tunstall Riverwalk Trail. 

This 291-acre state park in the Arkansas Delta is one of the most popular state parks in the Natural State. Just north of Jonesboro, or just west of Paragould, Crowley’s Ridge offers 18 Class B and eight tent campsites. Campers can enjoy the park’s picnic areas, trails, and baseball field, as well as exploring the native log and stone structures.

The fall sights, smells, and sounds of Daisy State Park can’t be beat. Choose from Class A, Class B, Class D (tent), and rent-a-yurt sites year-round at this state park. The centerpiece of this park is Lake Greeson, a shimmering, clear water, 7,000-acre lake. Enjoy bird watching, kayaking, fishing, and a cozy campfire to finish off the day. 

The meeting point of the West Gulf Coastal Plains and East Arkansas’ Mississippi Delta region, the 2,000 acres of Cane Creek State Park are a sight to behold. This is a great campsite for guided walking, biking, kayaking, and bird watching. Enjoy picnic sites, a screened-in pavilion, a visitor center with exhibits and a gift shop, a playground for the kids, and so much more. 

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10 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Arkansas The Natural State is a beautiful place in the fall and what better way to experience it than with some great outdoor activities. From fishing and floating to hunting and hiking, Arkansas offers a variety of outdoor adventures. Check out this list of our favorites.

Get ready for a unique adventure searching for real diamonds! This 37-acre field is the only diamond-producing site in the world that’s open to the public. At the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, you can search the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic crater for diamonds and other semi-precious stones.

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This great park in Alexander, Arkansas, features 24/7 access to a variety of ATV obstacles, trails, and more. With a goal of providing a safe place for the Central Arkansas community to ride and play in the mud together, Carter Off-Road Park was established back in 2014. Designed for riders to challenge themselves, there is something for everyone at Carter Off-Road Park.

You’ll find this campground in the Northwest Arkansas Ozark Mountains along the shores of Beaver Lake. With an abundance of spacious campsite and recreational activities, the Beaver Lake Dam Site Campground is one of the best of its kind in the Natural State. While camping, let your eyes feast on the natural caves, beautiful trees, and limestone bluffs.

Cast your nets at one of the most popular fishing spots in the Natural State.  You’ll find some noteworthy catfish on the White River just below the Bull Shoals Dam. On the upper section of this famous river, you’ll find sunfish and bass in addition to catfish. If it’s trout that you’re fishin’ for, you'll be happy to hear that the White River boasts some of the best trout fishing in the world.

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The 151-mile Buffalo is our nation’s first national river and is largely fed by rain. You’ll experience some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Arkansas while paddling the Buffalo National River. For great prices and friendly service, check out Lost Valley Canoe & Lodging. After your trip, stop into Ozark Café for a meal—a true local favorite. 

A beautiful spot in the fall, Devil’s Den State Park is known, in part, for its unique characteristics like caverns and rock formations. This state park features a variety of camping options, like camper cabins and cabins with kitchens and fireplaces. You’ll also find over 130 campsites ranging from Class AAA to Class D.

You’ll find this 650-acre lodging and event resort in the Arkansas Ozark National Forest. Off-roading is just one of the many recreational activities featured around the beautiful Mulberry Mountain. Navigate through one of their many long trails and get lost in the beauty of the red, orange, and yellow trees. 

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The Ozark Mountain Trailblazers Club is a group of outdoor enthusiasts with a mission of making the Ozark Mountains a bigger part of everyone’s lives by bringing people together. By joining together with like-minded hikers and trekkers, you’ll not only enjoy the company of others but you’ll experience the Ozarks through the eyes of education and advocacy. Be sure to come to the Annual Outdoor Rendezvous at the beginning of November. Check out their site page for more information! 

Barnyard Friends & Stables has been serving the Petit Jean Mountain area since 2006. This fun, educational horseback riding venue offers a true family experience, complete with a petting zoo that offers hand-on activity. Saddle up and enjoy 30 or 50-minute trail rides. What a way to soak up the crisp fall air and beautifully rich colors of Arkansas foliage.

The only resort lake state park in Arkansas, DeGray Lake offers a variety of opportunities to enjoy in the fall months. One of the best outdoor fall activities is boating. You’ll find first-class lodging and amenities in which to relax after your boating adventure. From tandem kayaks to a 25-foot barge with a party deck, be sure to check their site for all of the different options available to rent! 

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5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in Arkansas Camping in Arkansas is as natural as the beauty found throughout the state. With so many great campgrounds, it isn’t hard to find the perfect spot for family camping adventures. Here are a few great picks for family-friendly campgrounds in the state!  

Located in the beautiful Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, just 13 miles west of Fayetteville, the Lake Wedington area is one of the best family-friendly campgrounds in the Natural State. This popular spot features activities such as birding, boating, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and swimming. Amenities include an accessible fishing dock, boat ramp, cabin rentals, and picnic areas. The picnic pavilion can accommodate up to 75 guests, and the lodge can hold 200 (both of these areas can be utilized during the day). 

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The Crater of Diamonds State Park is an obvious choice when it comes to family camping trips in Arkansas. In addition to priceless hidden treasures, this “keep what you find” diamond site also features 47 Class AAA campsites and five walk-in tent sites. Families of all ages enjoy the water park after digging up memories at this campground.

The Lake Dardanelle area, surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Arkansas River Valley, is so large that it is divided into two parts. The Russellville and Dardanelle locations offer a total of 74 camping sites, launch ramps, restrooms and bathhouses with hot showers. Guests also enjoy the fishing and hiking opportunities available at Lake Dardanelle State Park.

Located in the beautiful Boston Mountain Range of the Ozarks, Lake Fort Smith State Park has 20 Class AAA and 10 Class B campsites, as well as 10 cabins. This popular spot features hiking trails, a swimming pool, playground, and marina where guests can rent kayaks, pedal boats, and party barges.

Devil’s Den State Park may be best known for its cool caves and hiking trails, but it also features an impressive number of camping spots: 44 Class AAA sites, 12 Class B sites, 13 Class C sites, eight hike-in (tent-only) sites, and more. Visitors should always check cave closings before planning a trip to Devil’s Den State Park.

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5 Cool Spots for ATV Off-Roading in Arkansas Arkansans understand the need for adventure. Off-roading is the perfect remedy for the thrill bug. If you’re searching for an exciting off-roading experience, check out these five great spots in Arkansas to start your journey. 

Designed for riders to test their limits, there isn’t an obstacle too tough or trail too muddy at this great spot in Alexander, Arkansas. Carter Off-Road Park was established in 2014 to provide a safe place for the Central Arkansas community to ride and play in the mud together. This impressive park features 24/7 access to a variety of ATV trails, obstacles, and more. 

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The Wolf Pen ATV Campground and Cabins is home to the Wolf Pen Gap Trail. The well-known off-roading spot features 42 miles of loop trails and three trailheads. The scenic trail at Wolf Pen Gap takes riders across Board Camp and Gap Creek and through a mix of forest and rugged areas in the Ouachitas. Although there is no fee to use this trail, donations are accepted at the trailheads. The Wolf Pen Gap Trail is open year-round except in November and December during modern gun season.

This River Valley spot features miles of riding opportunities on 800 acres in the scenic Arkansas Ozarks. Byrd’s Adventure Center is well-known for its off-road play areas that include challenging obstacles, mud pits, and jumps. In addition to the great trails available at Byrd’s ORV Park, riders can also enjoy designated trails in the surrounding Ozark National Forest.

Mulberry Mountain Lodge, located along Highway 23 on the Pig Trail National Scenic Byway, is a great spot for the ultimate ATV getaway. This 650-acre lodging and event resort on Arkansas’ Mulberry Mountain features direct access to many of the Ozark National Forest ATV trails. One of the more popular trails, the Mill Creek Off-Highway Vehicle Trail, features a scenic ride over mountainous terrain in remote areas of the forest. 

The popular ATV trails at the Renegade Ranch feature over 300 acres of hills and forest as well as open spaces adjoining the Ouachita River. Experienced riders may be interested in Renegade Ranch’s extreme trails, the Outlaw Pass and Cougar Canyon. Although guests can rent cabins here, ATVs cannot be rented here, and trail use fees include $5 per ATV for half-day and $10 per ATV for full-day. This area is also well-known for its wealth of arrowheads.

*Note: Age restrictions, special licenses, and other requirements for off highway vehicles vary from state to state. Before heading out on your OHV, please consult your local regulations.

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5 Great Hiking Trails in Arkansas It’s no surprise that the Natural State is home to some of the most sprawling and stunning organic beauty in the country. One excellent way to soak that up is by getting out for a hike with the family when the weather is nice. The immaculate land in Arkansas provides many perfect settings to spend time with the people you care about. Here are five great hiking trails in Arkansas the whole family can enjoy. 

The Withrow Springs State Park in Madison County features three moderate trails: the .75-mile Dogwood Nature Trail, the 1.25-mile Forest Trail, and the two-mile round-trip War Eagle Trail. The Dogwood Trail takes about an hour and is named for the beautiful flowering dogwood trees, making it quite colorful in the springtime. The Forest Trail takes three to four hours, following an old railway on the eastern side of the Withrow Springs State Park. The War Eagle Trail takes about an hour and is named for the scenic river that runs the length of the trail. Whichever trail you decide to take, your family will definitely enjoy being outdoors in this section of the Natural State.

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This half-mile trail is perfect for families of all sizes and ages. Although its official name is Twin Falls, this trail is more commonly known as Triple Falls because there are three distinct waterfalls during high water. Those waterfalls, by the way, are 48 feet-tall! Triple Falls is located at Camp Orr Boy Scout Camp just south of Harrison. Dogs are able to use this trail as well, so long as they are kept on a leash.

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Located near Mount Judea, Sam’s Throne is a popular spot in the beautiful Ozarks. Although it is mostly known as a rock climbing site, Sam’s Throne is also a well-known destination for photography, camping, and hiking. Overlooking the gorgeous Big Creek Valley below, one look at this view will show you why this spot is so popular. With a variety of trails to hike, Sam’s Throne offers challenges for everyone from beginners to experts.

This beautiful spot is home to Arkansas’ “Castle in the Clouds” and is perfect for family outings. With easy trails like the half-mile Spring Trail and moderate trails like the 1.3-mile Lover’s Leap Trail, Queen Wilhelmina State Park can accommodate even the least experienced hiker. For those interested in a more strenuous hike, check out the 225-mile Ouachita Trail. 

With multiple hiking trails, Hobbs State Park Conservation Area is a great spot for family hikes. Choose between the half-mile Historic Van Winkle Trail, the 1.5-mile Shaddox Hollow Nature Trail, the 24-mile Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail, or the Pigeon Roost Trail, a double-stacked loop trail in a figure eight formation. These trails are popular for hiking as well as viewing a variety of plant and animal species.

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5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Arkansas In Arkansas, scenic landscapes are abundant. You’ll find beautiful hiking spots just about anywhere that your feet touch the ground here in the Natural State. So, get out your walkin’ sticks and hiking boots while you check out our picks for five of the most beautifully scenic spots to hike in the Natural State.

This moderately traveled scenic hike is a 3.5-mile looped trail near Yellville, Arkansas. The Indian Rockhouse Trail features a waterfall, stream, and winds itself across the beautiful Arkansas landscape and hills. Open year-round, this self-guided hike offers a variety of activity options, including the Indian Rock House Cave which used to shelter prehistoric Native Americans.

This six-mile round-trip trail offers beautiful views of the Buffalo National River as well as a geologic experience like no other. Just like its name implies, at 550-feet tall, Big Bluff is BIG! So big, in fact, that it is the tallest sheer bluff face between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains. Hikers should exercise extreme caution while experiencing this scenic hike, as it can be hazardous in certain areas. 

The popular looped North Rim Trail is located in the beautiful Mount Magazine State Park near Paris, Arkansas. This trail follows the north rim of Mount Magazine (hence the name) to where it reaches Cameron Bluff Overlook Drive. Accessible year-round, North Rim Trail features fantastic wild flowers and is a great spot for bird watching. 

The Eagle Rock Loop Trail is a 26-mile scenic hike located near Caddo Gap, Arkansas, in the beautiful Ouachita National Forest. This lightly-trafficked loop trail, the longest in Arkansas, is only recommended for the very experienced adventurer. Eagle Rock Loop Trail is probably the best location in Arkansas for a multi-day backpacking trek.

Best traveled from March to October, this six-mile out and back trail on the Buffalo National River features the breathtaking, single-drop Hemmed-In Hollow Waterfall. The strenuous Hemmed-In Hollow Trail is much better suited for experienced hikers rather than for children or folks who tire easily. All hikers are urged to bring water and a snack as they embark on this 4-5-hour hiking adventure.

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10 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in Arkansas From the huge brown trout in the White River to Norfork Lake’s hard-fight striped bass and whatever you can pull out of the Mississippi, there’s a whole lot of fishing to be done in Arkansas. And unless you’re noodling, you’ll need the right gear. These are our favorite bait and tackle shops in Arkansas.

Hook Line & Sinker Outdoors has two locations, one in Rogers and one in Bentonville. They carry many top fishing brands and a deep selection of rods, reels, and tackle, as well as both live and artificial baits. They’re also active in the local community, hosting or sponsoring events like fishing tournaments.

No matter what you’re targeting in Arkansas fisheries—from bass and trout to catfish and panfish—you’ll find the gear you need at Rock Springs Tackle. In addition to carrying a full line of rods, reels, baits, and tackle from top and popular brands, the shop can alo repair your rod or reel.

Our New, Top Water Spook check us out at Rock Springs Tackle in Harrison, Arkansas

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Fly anglers chasing the rainbows or massive brown trout in Arkansas’ many awesome fisheries can find the flies and gear that they need at the Ozark Angler’s two locations: Heber Springs and Little Rock. They’ve been helping put fly anglers on the fish since 1989. 

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While they carry products most any angler will need, Fish’N Stuff has specialized in helping bass hunters pull hogs out of Arkansas lakes and rivers since 1987. Whether you’re a newbie or a tournament veteran, this shop probably has the gear and tackle you’re looking for.

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If you need live bait—from minnows and nightcrawlers to crickets—jigs, soft baits, rods, or reels, Lisa’s Bait Shop can hook an angler up. As one customer said, Lisa’s has the “[b]est bait around, and can’t beat the prices. I won’t buy any fishing gear anywhere else.”  

BMT—“Bass Mafia Tackle”—Outdoors was formed by five enthusiastic anglers who wanted to build a tackle store that offered the best products so that local anglers could go out and catch fish. They’re happy to help everyone from bass pros to recreational anglers. The shop also regularly sponsors school fishing teams and bass clubs.

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From live bait to bowfishing, Bald Knob Bait Shop has what anglers need to hit Lake Bald Knob, Greers Ferry Lake, or the Little Red River. Whether you’re need a rod, some fishing line, a swimbait, or just some advice about where the crappies are biting and what they’re hitting, Bald Knob Bait can help you out.

Whether you’re looking to catch a catfish or just take home a fried catfish dinner, complete with cole slaw and hushpuppies, Point Cedar Grocery can accommodate you. So grab some minnows or nightcrawlers, a cup of coffee, a gallon of milk, and hit the water.

Before you hit the Arkansas River, if you need a fishing rod or a fishing license, a stringer or sinkers, you’ll find it at Creel-Outdoors in Lavaca. They can even hook you up with snacks, ice, and marine supplies. Heck, they even rent U-Hauls if you find yourself in need of a truck or trailer.

Folks who want to buy or rent (if you’re in town for a fishing trip or tournament) pro-level fishing equipment need only visit Geared in Hot Springs, to find what you’re looking for. In addition to rods and reals, they also carry hard and soft baits and sponsor a pro bass fishing team.

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10 Best Archery Outfitters in Arkansas Whether you’re an experienced bow hunter or a sport archer who targets bullseyes on the range, you need the right gear. From equipment like sights and broadheads to services like bow tuning and string replacement, when you’re looking for archery gear in Arkansas, these are our favorite places to get it.

Ingram Archery Supply and Tackle is a family-owned and operated business that’s furnished the Quitman community with all its archery needs for years. In addition to sales, the shop offers first-class service, including bow tuning and string replacement. There is also a 3D archery range on premises.

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Folks in the tristate Texarkana area need look no farther than Archery Outfitters Pro Shop for their bowhunting and archery gear. The 10,000-square-foot store boasts the area’s best selection. A knowledgeable staff will help you find what you’re looking for and even point you to the shop’s indoor range, where you can put your new gear to use.

Better Outdoors Archery & Bowfishing can help you find a compound bow or crossbow—and even outfit it for fishing, if you’re so inclined—as well as arrows, sights or just about any other archery gear you need. The shop also offers tuning and repair services and has an indoor range where you can practice your skills. 

12 Ring Archery is a full-service pro shop that is a dealer for several of the top archery brands. In addition to bow sales and service, the shop sells arrows, sights, releases, and other accessories. They also have a range with 3D targets, where they host regular shooting events.

Slingin’ Arrows, in El Dorado, has just about everything an archer would need. The shop sells bows, arrows, and gear. They also offer archery lessons, can tune your bow, or repair your gear. The shop has an indoor range where they host leagues and tournaments, as well.

Folks in Tumbling Shoals look to Neshoba Archery for the best gear and service in the area. As one customer says, “Hands down the best bow shop… No need to go to any other bow shop.” They sell bows and accessories, offer service and advice, and have a range where you can practice. 

Archer’s Advantage is the place where capital city archers can find the gear they need. From traditional longbows and recurves to compound bows and cross bows, they’ll likely have what you’re looking for. The shop also offers a full menu of bow and arrow services, including custom fletching, as well as an indoor range.

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Pinpoint Archery prides themselves on the skills and depth of knowledge of their pro staff. In addition to sales of new and used equipment, Pinpoint also offers an array of services, including bow tuning and repair, arrow repair and customization, and string replacement. The shop also has a range.

If you lean more toward traditional—or even primitive—archery, Pine Hollow Longbows is the spot for you. Whether you’re looking to build your own bow, and need supplies and/or knowledge, or want to order a custom bow, Pine Hollow can help you out. 

If you need a bag of ice, some snacks, and some archery equipment, Mt. George Archery & Quick Stop is the place to go. The shop has been in business more than a dozen years and can offer the depth of knowledge that only experience provides.

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5 Best Fishing Spots in Arkansas The changing seasons and moderate weather here in Arkansas allows us to have some of the best year-round fishing. From streams and rivers to lakes and trout waters, Arkansas’s waters are stocked with a rainbow of fine fish. So, put out your “gone fishin’” sign and head out to one of these great Arkansas fishing spots.

The Arkansas River is a popular location for professional fishing tournaments like Bassmasters. Pools in the Arkansas River, formed by locks and dams, are stocked by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) with bass, crappie, catfish, and other sport fish. Additionally, stripers can be found along the entire 320-mile stretch of the Arkansas River that flows through Arkansas.

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The White River is one of the most popular fishing spots in the Natural State. While the upper section of the White River is swimming with bass, catfish, and sunfish, it’s catfish you’ll find just below Bull Shoals Dam. In recent years, the biggest trout have been caught downstream of the Houseman Access.

Flooded timber in this 29,000-acre lake provides the perfect environment for a variety of fish. Millwood Lake is a popular fishing lake that features bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegills. Millwood Lake is also a host various for fishing derbies and bass fishing tournaments held by local and out-of-state organizations. 

The Spring River is well-known for its stream walleye fishing and also has a reputation for being unique among Arkansas trout waters. Rather than coming from deep within a manmade lake, the cold water in the Spring River comes naturally from a spring. The three-mile stretch from Mammoth Springs to Dam 3 is ideal for those that enjoy fishing from the bank or while wading.

As far as fishing goes, Lake Ouachita is one of the most popular lakes in Arkansas and is well-known for its premier largemouth bass fishing. The deep, crystal-clear waters of Lake Ouachita are also ideal for large stripers, which are often caught by trolling with downriggers. 

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5 Impressive ATV Destinations in the Southeast The Southeastern United States is a goldmine of ATVing opportunities. Between private South Carolina parks just miles from the beach and Florida forests primed for mudding, this region of the country is a paradise for those who love the off-roading lifestyle. Not only will you find miles of terrain to traverse, but the stunning scenery and amenities will make you want to stay the weekend. Here are a few of our favorite ATV destinations in the Southeast. 

The Davenport Mountain OHV Trails are located in the Chattahoochee—Oconee National Forests, just west of Blairsville in northern Georgia. Although the trail system is less than six miles in length, it traverses a lot of steep and difficult, wooded terrain on and around Davenport Mountain, and on the shoreline of Nottley Lake. There is a less-challenging section of the trail for beginning or less-experienced riders, as well. Stay at the Copperhead Lodge, a nearby mountain resort that’s only a short distance from the trailhead.

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Within the Blackwater River State Forest, near Milton, on the Florida Panhandle, you will find the Sunshine State’s model for off-road trail systems at the Clear Creek OHV Riding Area. The design of the Clear Creek trail system is now the blueprint on which other OHV areas in Florida are based. Clear Creek features a staging area and more than 20 miles of trails that are open to ATVs (as well as seven miles dedicated solely to off-road motorcycles). There are varying levels of difficulty, including a training trail, so riders of all experience levels will find a trail to their liking. Camping is available at several sites within the Blackwater River State Forest, or Adventures Unlimited offers a variety of accommodation options, including cabins, on the edge of the forest and quite close to Clear Creek OHV Riding Area.

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Stony Lonesome OHV Park is situated outside the town of Bremen, not far from the Bankhead National Forest, in northern Alabama’s Cullman County. The county operates Stony Lonesome, and it is the first public OHV park of its kind in the state. Miles and miles of trails—for all levels of experience and ability—wind over and across more than 1,450 acres of wooded terrain in the park. Camping, camper cabins and bathhouses are all available within the park, so you can maximize your off-road time. On the other hand, if you prefer to get away at the end of the day, the Snowbird Retreat, on nearby Lake Smith, offers plenty of down-home hospitality.

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If you’re looking to combine your off-roading with a little beaching, Battery Park Offroad, near Nesmith is the place for you. Battery Park is located about half an hour west of both Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach in South Carolina. The park features dozens of miles of trails through wooded bottomlands, and if you don’t want to haul your own ride, they also rent ATVs—and offer a safety course for first-timers and less experienced riders. Camping and RV hook-ups are available at Battery Park, but why not treat yourself and stay at the Surfside Oceanfront Hotel on the beach?

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For those seeking an off-road experience that doesn’t require your own ATV (perhaps in conjunction with a visit to Orlando), Revolution Offroad can set you up. Located in central Florida, near Lake Louisa State Park and just west of Disneyworld and Universal, Revolution Offroad will turn you loose on one of their ATVs so that you can explore their more than 230 acres of swamp, forest and mud terrain.

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5 Warm-Weather Fishing Destinations to Escape the Cold When winter drops its icy fingers across the fisheries of the United States, making the water hard in some places or the air just too darn cold in others, many anglers find themselves dreaming of warmer weather. The good news is, you don’t have to wait. If dropping a line through a little hole in the ice isn’t your idea of fun, head south! There are plenty of places where you can enjoy both tight lines and warm weather, all winter long. Here are a handful of warm-weather fishing destinations where you can go to escape the cold.

Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, is the self-proclaimed “Sportfishing Capital of the World”—and you know, it just may be. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Florida Bay on the other, Islamorada is exceptionally well positioned to offer a tremendous variety of fishing opportunities, including inshore, offshore, reef fishing, and flats fishing. So, whether you’re targeting tarpon, trolling for tuna, or stalking snook, you’ll find a fishery in close proximity to the island. 

The Hadley House Resort, located right on Islamorada, is one of the best lodging values on the key. Hit Florida Bay for some “backcountry” fishing (inshore and flats) with Pirate for Hire Charters, or head offshore on one of Dirty Boat Charters’ trips.

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Venice, Louisiana, is another U.S. fishing Mecca with its own title—alternately known as the Redfish or Fishing “Capital of the World”—that derives from its unique location, which places it at the center of a variety of fisheries: Inshore, offshore, bottom fishing, and even freshwater bass fishing. You could catch a bull redfish and trophy largemouth in the morning and bring home yellowfin tuna steaks for dinner in the afternoon.

Stay at Nicole’s Fishing Bed and Breakfast, which partners with several local houseboats to provide accommodation for visiting anglers. To hunt trophy-size inshore species like bull redfish, tarpon or speckled trout, hook up with Reel Tite Fishing Guide Service. Voodoo Fishing Charters will put you on the offshore species, like yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi.

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The Kona Coast of the Island of Hawaii (the Big Island) is yet-another destination that draws sport anglers from all over the world. Kailua-Kona’s large charter fleet is testament to the large numbers of marlin, tuna, and mahi mahi that make their home in the warm Hawaiian waters. Shore anglers can get in one some of the Big Island’s massive ulua (giant trevally) action—if you can get a local to tell you where to go.

Camelot Kona Fishing Charters is a skilled and respected charter outfit that has been putting people on fish for more than four decades. The Royal Kona Resort, on the bay in Kailua-Kona, is just minutes from the marina and is a great place to stay and relax after a long day on the water. 

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Largemouth anglers have it tough in the winter time, especially in the more-northern latitudes of the United States. Well, here’s some good news to soothe your winter bassin’ blues: One of the Lone Star State’s best largemouth fisheries is located deep in South Texas, along the Mexican border. On Falcon International Reservoir, more commonly called Falcon Lake, the day time air temperatures during the winter months average in the 70s and 80s. You won’t even need a jacket.

Falcon Lake is an impoundment of the Rio Grande, just southeast of Laredo. The 83,000-acre lake is a renowned largemouth bass and catfish fishery. Five and six-pound bucketmouths are not uncommon. If you’re looking for a different kind of challenge, Falcon Lake also supports a decent alligator gar population. The lake does straddle the border, so if you intend to fish in Mexican waters, you will need a Mexico fishing license. If you don’t bring your own, you can rent a boat from Falcon Lake Marina. Lakefront Lodge offers a variety of accommodations, from RV sites to motel rooms and rental cabins.

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St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is another sunny island destination you can reach without a passport. And the flight is definitely worth it! More than 20 IGFA world records have been set by angler’s fishing out of the Virgin Islands, including the women’s all-tackle record for blue marlin, which was set by a 1,073-pound monster billfish. The islands’ location on the edge of the Puerto Rico Trench and in close proximity to the Gulf Stream make the USVI the perfect launching point for hunting big pelagic species, ranging from massive marlin to trophy tuna.

Consider Point Pleasant Resort, not far from Red Hook, for lodging. Double Header Sportfishing will get you out to the fish.

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Photograph Courtesy of Dirty Boat Charters Wed, 04 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0600
6 Best Ice Skating Rinks in and Around Arkansas Whether it’s Learn-To-Skate programs or stick time, the local rinks in Arkansas and right across the border in neighboring states have plenty of opportunity to hone your skills. When winter rolls around, nothing is quite like putting on a pair of skates and hitting the ice. Here are the best ice skating rinks in and around Arkansas. 

Hit the ice rink at Arkansas Skatium, and you’ll feel more like you’re in Regina than in Little Rock. They offer broomball, hockey, figure skating, and of course, public free skating. You can also take ice skating lessons and learn to play hockey at the Skatium.

From November to January, folks in the Bentonville area can find ice at Lawrence Plaza. The Rink offers skate rental and special events like “Frosty Flix,” where you can enjoy a movie after skating. Group and private ice skating lessons are also available while the Rink is open.

When you think of Arkansas, you probably don’t think about the sport of curling—unless you’re a frequent visitor to the Jones Center, where you can learn and compete on the ice. But you don’t have to curl to enjoy the Ice Arena, you can skate, figure skate, or take lessons to learn how.

If you live in southeast Arkansas and are itchin’ to put on the skates, head across the river to the Mid-South Ice House in Olive Branch, Mississippi. This year-round facility is an NHL-size rink that’s home to a skating and open to public skating. It’s a great place to practice your figure skating or hockey moves, as well.

Folks in Fayetteville have another ice skating option if they make the quick trip to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Snowflake Ice Rink is 7,000 square-feet of ice that’s open to the public from November until January. The rink is also the centerpiece of the annual Snowflake Winter Festival in downtown Tahlequah.

Skaters in North Central Arkansas can head across the border and hit the ice year-round at Jordan Valley Ice Park in Springfield, Missouri. You can take lessons, figure skate, or simply enjoy skating around the ice during public skate times at this indoor arena. 

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7 Best Spots for Cross-Country Skiing in Arkansas Enterprising cross-country skiers across the northern part of Arkansas have plenty of opportunity for a truly beautiful adventure. With all of the Natural State’s mountains, forests, and stunning scenic spaces, you’re in for a real treat. Here are the seven best cross-country skiing spots in Arkansas. 

The Mountain Home area is one of the few spots in Arkansas that sees an average annual snowfall in the double digits. And when the flakes start coming down, folks can grab their skis and hit the David’s Trail system along beautiful Lake Norfork. 

The Hidden Diversity Multi-Use Trail cuts through 24 miles of Hobbs State Park Conservation Area in extreme Northwestern Arkansas. This area can sometimes see considerable snowfall—in 2011, a single storm dumped 24 inches on the region—which is good news for Nordic skiers. The trail itself, which is named for the diversity of landscape and wildlife it traverses, is wide enough to accommodate skiers for most of its length.

Named for an old Civilian Conservation Core road, Old Road Trail is five miles of wide, rolling track that comes close to circumnavigating Devil’s Den State Park. When there’s snow, cross-country skiers who hit this Northwest Arkansas trail will be treated to a spectacular vista from Yellow Rock.

Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail, in spite of its name, is a 34-mile multi-use trail that starts in Mount Magazine State Park. The trail is an a old wagon road, so it’s nice and wide, but it does have 200 feet of vertical drop between the horse camp and the highway—tough, but not insurmountable for a skier. Its location near the highest peak in Arkansas, Mount Magazine, means that the chances for winter snow are good in this part of the state.

The Eureka Springs area not only has 25 miles of wooded, multi-use trails around its spring-fed lake, it also happens to get more snow than any other place in Arkansas. So, Nordic skiers hoping for a snow day would do well to keep on the weather in Eureka Springs.

Just south of Mountain Home, the Lower Buffalo Wilderness is one of the most remote wild places in the state. The Cow Creek-Cook Hollow Trails are old logging roads that carve a 10.5-mile loop into the woods. When there’s snow cover, they offer Nordic skiers an awesome opportunity to explore this gorgeous wilderness.

The Pigeon Creek Trail System is a National Recreation Trail that runs along Lake Norfork. Although the trail is primarily used for hiking and biking, on snow days, cross country skiers would enjoy the portions of the trail that track an old logging road. Watch out for the mile-long downhill (which translates to a mile-long uphill return) on the next trail section, though.

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Best Winter Weekend Getaway at DeGray Lake Resort State Park Looking for a great weekend getaway in Arkansas this winter? DeGray Lake Resort State Park is your spot—the only resort state park in Arkansas. Located in the central part of the state, this park is packed with everything from camping and hiking to great area restaurants and activities. Let us plan your trip with this guide to a winter weekend getaway at DeGray Lake Resort State Park.  

The Saginaw Historic Trail is a pretty easy trek and only 0.25 miles-long, making it perfect for a winter day hike. This historic trail follows an old narrow-gauge railroad that was used back in 1900 by lumbermen.

How about a nice breakfast overlooking the sunrise over the lake, or at dinner to watch the sunset? This laid-back, casual restaurant offers just that and more. From small snacks to big meals, the menu here can accommodate all kinds of tastes. The Shoreline Restaurant is located in the DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge.

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This spot is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and so it’s definitely worth checking out. You’ll see buildings that date back to the 1870. How cool is that?

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If you want to explore the land on foot, the perfect trail for that is the Islets Cove Paddle Trail which is a three-mile loop along the north shore of DeGray Lake. Get fresh air pumping through your lungs and work up a little sweat. With the exercise you’ll be taking in the beautiful lush setting of the state park.

You can play disc golf anywhere, right? Well, how about playing on a course designed by a professional disc golf course designer who is an Arkansas native? The family-friendly disc golf course at DeGray Lake Resort State Park was designed by Matt Loyd. It’ll challenge you while you enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

This is an adventure like no other! You’ll join up with a park interpreter and search for wintering bald-eagles, ducks, ospreys, and more. Dress in layers and bring your binoculars. 

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If you’re brave enough for some outdoor winter accommodations, camping at DeGray Lake Resort State Park is open all year long. Guests can rent a yurt or choose between AAA, B, or D campsites.

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