There is something about a visit to the White River that makes me feel as if all my cares have floated downstream like a leaf on the water. It is truly one of my favorite places in Arkansas and Gaston’s White River Resort is one of our favorite places to stay while on the White River.

You can watch the eagles soar and the blue herons dip and dive. Listen to the swish and plop of the spin reel as it is cast. Allow the ripples on the river and the whisper of the water through the grass along the edge of the bank to mesmerize me…there is nothing better.

Floating on the White River from Gaston’s White River Resort just makes my heart happy.

Gaston’s White River Resort

We have stayed at several different hotels and resorts along the river and they have been fine…but we keep coming back to Gaston’s. It is by far our favorite place to stay on the river. Gaston’s is old-fashioned place, not fancy.

Peachy-pink cabins line a low hill that rises up from the river. The accommodations are older, but have been updated and are always spotlessly clean!

Gaston’s is pretty and pleasant with lots of amenities. It has wide expanses of lawn, nature/walking trails, a little playground, a miniature zoo for kids, a swimming pool, and a grass air-strip.

Boating on the White RIver at Gaston's White RIver Resort

History

One of the things that I like best about Gaston’s is the fact that it is a family owned business. It was started in 1958 when Al Gaston bought twenty acres with 6 small cottages and 6 boats along the White River in North Arkansas. Al’s son, Jim Gaston, then took over the resort and today Jim’s son, Clint Gaston, is carrying on the family legacy.

The resort is now over 400 acres with 79 cottages and 70 boats so it has grown a bit. The picture below is the office where you check in. There is also a nice gift shop and the entry to the restaurant is in a breezeway behind this building.

Gaston's White River Resort. This is the outside of the lobby where you check in. There is also a little gift store and the restaurant is behind this building.

Location

The address of Gaston’s is: 1777 River Rd, Lakeview, AR 72642-9039

Gaston’s White River Resort is nestled in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas near the Missouri border. It is located just outside of the small town of Bull Shoals and close to the small, but slightly bigger town of Mountain Home. It is down the road from the Bull Shoals-White River State Park.

How to get to Gaston’s

Driving

We always drive to Gaston’s. There are no freeways to get where you are going which is part of what makes it so special. The drive from anywhere will probably take you down some winding Ozark mountain roads with gorgeous scenery.

Although it might feel like it is in the middle of nowhere in reality there are some nearby small towns with grocery stores and restaurants. It is a place where you can be near nature without being isolated.

Gaston’s White River Resort Airstrip

If you own a plane you can fly to Gaston’s! They have a lovely Bermuda grass air strip that is 3200 feet long. One of our favorite things to do when we stay at Gaston’s is to watch the planes fly in and out.

You do not have to be a guest of the resort to land on the airstrip. It is open to the public and many people fly in just to eat at the restaurant or have a day of fishing. On their website Gaston’s says, “Our resort has been featured in every major airplane and flight magazine in the world, known as the best fly in destination in this part of the country.”

Beware though – it will give you airplane fever. My husband has his pilot’s license, but we don’t own a plane. Every time we leave Gaston’s the conversation turns to the possibility of getting one. Sometimes when we are at home in Little Rock my husband will randomly say, “If we had a plane we could fly up to Gaston’s today.”

Accommodations

The cottages are strung like peachy pink pearls along the river. They offer a variety of accommodations which range from a huge villa with 10 rooms to a single hotel type room with no kitchen and two double beds. We usually choose a 2 bedroom cottage with a full kitchen, living room, dining area, and bathroom. Give the resort a call to discuss the various options.

Don’t let the word “resort” in the name fool you, these are basic accommodations. However, they are clean, they have wifi, and the kitchen is fully stocked with all the utensils and cookware you will need to prepare and eat meals.

Best of all the cottages have views out to the gorgeous White River. The grounds at Gaston’s are impeccably maintained and it is simply a beautiful place.

Gaston’s is also pet friendly. We typically bring our dog along with us.

Charlie in a boat on the White River
Charlie!

The White River

The White River meanders through the Ozarks in both Missouri and Arkansas. There are several dams along it’s route. Gaston’s is located just below the dam for Bull Shoals lake. In fact, you can take a boat ride up the river from Gaston’s to see it.

I recommend that you do pay attention to the signs on the bank regarding where you can and cannot fish. There are some catch and release only areas near the dam as well as some no fishing areas.

Water flowing from Bull Shoals lake through Bull Shoals dam into the White River
Releasing the water from Bull Shoals Lake after some heavy spring rains.

This area of the river is below Bull Shoals Dam is internationally known for premier trout fishing. Fly fishing is extremely popular on the White River during low water periods, but most anglers opt for the standard White River rig which is a 16 to 20-foot johnboat equipped with a 10-20 horsepower motor from which they spin cast.

People truly come from all over to fish these waters.

The water levels on this part of the White River are determined by how much electricity is being generated by the dam or how much water they are having to release from the lakes due to rainfall.

You can fish the river when it is at any level, you will just have to adapt by using different methods depending on the water levels. All fishermen, but especially fly fishermen, need to pay attention to the warning whistles that blow before the dam starts to generate because the water levels can change quickly.

One of my very favorite things about the White River is the early morning fog. It is worth getting up early to see this gorgeous sight!

Fog on the White River

Fishing

Relaxing in the boat on the White River near Gaston's White RIver Resort

I come to Gaston’s to relax but MOST people come to fish for trout and Gaston’s makes it easy! They have a state of the art dock with the aforementioned 70 boats.

You can go fishing on your own by renting a boat and just heading out with your pole on the water or you can hire a guide.

There are definitely some advantages to hiring a guide particularly if it is your first time to fish for trout. These guides know the river as well as you know your own home. They will take you out, show you all the best spots to fish, teach you about the different kinds of bait and all the varieties of ways to fish for trout on the White River.

Gaston’s even has a school that will teach you the art of fly fishing. And it is definitely an art. When you watch a fly fisherman throwing that line in a perfect arc again and again while standing in the cold water, surrounded by the early morning fog, silhouetted by the rising sun, you will see the artistry.

Fly fisherman on the White River outside of Gaston's White River Resort

The types of fish that are in the waters of the river around Gaston are the rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout, and a new breed called the tiger trout.

You will need a fishing license to fish in Arkansas which you can buy at the office at Gaston’s.

Restaurant

Gaston’s has a restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that sits right on the White River. It is so nice to be able to just mosey down the road from your cabin to the restaurant for a drink and dinner.

Of course, the restaurant offers trout. You should definitely try the trout poppers! You can even choose to have the chef cook the trout that you caught earlier that day!

Besides trout, they have a variety of other dishes such as pork chops, steaks, sea bass, and pasta dishes. My husband was there recently for a guys fishing trip and he had the prime rib one night and the sea bass another and thought both were very good.

The restaurant is a fun place with interesting decor. It is covered with antiques such as old bicycles, watches, typewriters, and boat motors. There is a lot to see.

You can also take advantage of the full bar that is in the same building. If you are eating dinner in your cottage it is nice to come down for a before or after dinner drink.

View of Gaston’s restaurant and dock with the cottages spread out alone the White River.

Nature Trails

Nature Trail at Gaston's White River Resort

One of my favorite things to do at Gaston’s is to walk their nature trails. These are nicely maintained grass trails along the river and through the wooded areas at the edges of the property. They are so peaceful!

One of the trails passes a little zoo filled with peacocks and turkeys and other types of birds. When we brought our grandchildren to Gaston’s they loved seeing this!

Bird Watching

Lots of people come to the White River to bird watch. You can see a multitude of birds from both Gaston’s nature trails and out on the river. There is a bald eagle nest just downstream from the resort.

When we were there last spring there was a baby eagle in the nest and the parents were taking turns sitting nearby guarding it. The oddly graceful, yet gangly blue herons are everywhere!

What else can you do in the area

Bull Shoals-White River State Park

This is one of the nicest of Arkansas’ state parks. We have friends who have an RV and this is one of their favorite places to stay. It is right on the river with its own marina.

Bull Shoals-White River State Park also has some hiking and mountain biking trails that you might want to visit while you are at Gaston’s. Be sure and check out the large visitors center that sits high on a hill above the dam. You can learn about the history of the area as well as hear some of the fishing stories from these waters.

Bull Shoals Lake

If you get tired of being on the river you can always go to the lake. You can rent a boat or a party barge and spend some time skiing or fishing. Bull Shoals Lake is known for good bass fishing.

Ghost Town of Rush

One of my favorite things is to visit the ghost town of Rush, Arkansas. Rush is about 30 miles from Gaston’s but it is worth the drive. The town began after the discovery of zinc ore in the 1880’s.

The height of the boom was during WWI and by WWII the mills were already being dismantled. By 1960 the last residents of the town left. You can visit the town and do a hike around the area observing the remaining mines and buildings. Rush is on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Buffalo National River managed by the National Park Service.

Conclusion

Gaston’s White River Resort is an Arkansas tradition. It has grown and changed in many ways over the years, but the heart of the place has stayed the same.

It represents family, friends, fun, and fishing. Everyone, owners and staff, are pleasant and welcoming. We have found the same to be true of the guests. I highly recommend a visit to Gaston’s to fish, to eat, to walk the trails, to enjoy small town hospitality, and to release your worries.

Dock on the White RIver

Thanks for stopping by!

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