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Arkansas's Outdoor Paradise: A Guide to the Ozarks 

Arkansas

Arkansas's Outdoor Paradise: A Guide to the Ozarks 

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
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    Arkansas

Surrounded by two sparkling bodies of water, a majestic mountain range and lush greenery, it’s not hard to see why Lakeview, Arkansas, calls itself “Paradise of the Ozarks.”

Located near the Arkansas-Missouri border, the city of 800 residents is just 400 kilometers southwest of St. Louis, Missouri. It’s best known as the gateway to the Bull Shoals-White River State Park, which features more than 1,600 kilometers of shoreline dotted with campgrounds, swimming areas and public parks for year-round family fun.

Explore Bull Shoals-White River State Park

Bull Shoals-White River State Park includes its two namesake geographic features: Bull Shoals Lake, a massive man-made reservoir owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the White River, a 1,160-kilometer river that flows through Arkansas and Missouri toward the Mississippi River.

Both Bull Shoals Lake and the White River are renowned for their fishing. Catch largemouth bass, spotted bass and white bass year-round, along with seasonal finds such as trout during the summer and crappie in the winter. Pick up fishing equipment at the numerous rental shops lining the marina, where you can find boats, canoes and kayaks. Catch and release, or grill your catch using one of the outdoor barbecues installed in the parks along the shore.

For those who prefer land instead of water, go hiking. Take a casual tour of nesting bluebird houses on the grassy Bluebird Trail for an easy walk, or try the strenuous 2.8-kilometer trek uphill on rocky terrain past 800-year-old juniper trees on the Big Bluff Hiking Trail.

Mountain biking is among the many activities available in Bull Shoals-White River State Park.

Mountain biking is among the many activities available in Bull Shoals-White River State Park.
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Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Paddle the Buffalo National River

Follow the White River 72 kilometers south of Bull Shoals Lake where it joins with the Buffalo National River, a great canoeing spot near the northern edge of the Ozark National Forest. Rent a canoe in Ponca and take a day-long trip to Kyles Landing for views of large bluffs and waterfalls. Check the water levels before booking a trip — typically March through June offer ideal conditions after a full season of rainfall.

If you’d rather view Buffalo National River and its wildlife on foot, try one of a dozen hiking trails, including the easy, bench-lined Ponca to Steel Creek Trail or the short, 64-meter Twin Falls Trail, which passes three waterfalls.

In Ponca, you can hike or rent a canoe and paddle the Buffalo National River.

In Ponca, you can hike or rent a canoe and paddle the Buffalo National River.
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Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Where to Stay

Spend the night at one of dozens of shoreline-adjacent campsites inside the park. Sites have water and electricity mid-March through mid-November. Cabin and cottage options are also available, and some offer luxury features such as hot tubs or inclusive fishing packages.

Most Lakeview accommodations aren’t too far from the lake. Several family-friendly resorts are downtown, many with on-site restaurants featuring locally caught fish. 

Don’t forget your camera. Check out 10 tips for taking vibrant outdoor photos.

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