Arkansas is not nicknamed “The Natural State” for no reason. It is a gorgeous state with so much nature. One of the elements that you will quickly notice is that there are an abundance of lakes in Arkansas.
In fact, there may be more lakes in Arkansas than you might even imagine. Wikipedia says that there are over 2,300 named lakes and reservoirs in the state!
Obviously that number includes lakes of all types and sizes.
Some would be very tiny while some are huge. We have lakes which are perfect for fishing and others which are better for water sports. Some are drinking water reservoirs that don’t allow swimming or motorized watercraft.
We have city lakes, lakes that are operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and lakes that are privately owned yet allow public use.
The lakes in Arkansas offer a variety of recreational opportunities, from fishing and boating to camping and swimming. They all have their own special characteristics and provide visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty of our home state.
You can be sure that lakes are especially popular during the heat of an Arkansas summer!
Beautiful Lakes in Arkansas
Did you know that Arkansas also has a few of the most pristine lakes in the US? Several of the ones listed below have been named as some of the cleanest lakes in the entire nation.
Many of our 52 state parks are situated near an Arkansas lake and offer marinas, beaches and camping.
Obviously, this list includes only a small portion of the amazing Arkansas lakes available or public use. However these are some of the most popular of the lakes in Arkansas!
Beaver Lake is a 28,370-acre lake with clear water and scenic shorelines often rimmed by gorgeous limestone bluffs. The waters here are known for their pretty blue-green color due to the limestone in the area. This is an especially beautiful lake in the fall when the forests around it turn
Did you know that Beaver Lake is nationally renowned for bass fishing? It is and has become a destination for several fishing tournaments.
However, Beaver Lake is also popular for boating and all kinds of recreational water sports. The open spaces on the lake provide many opportunities for waterskiing and tubing. The water is clear enough on Beaver Lake that you can even SCUBA.
This is also a popular lake for kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. You can paddle around some of the lakes islands.
Beaver Lake is near the town of Rogers and there are plenty of places to stay along its shores or nearby. There are also 2,000 acres of campgrounds around Beaver Lake!
The Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area is located on the lake’s southern shore and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
You can even boat right up to the War Eagle Caverns which is the only lakeside cavern in the state, dock your boat there, and take a tour of the caves
Table Rock Lake
Although most people think of Missouri when they think of Table Rock Lake, but it is actually located in both Missouri and Arkansas.
The Arkansas portion of the lake lake winds through the valleys of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains near the charming mountain town of Eureka Springs.
It is known for its clear water and is a paradise for boaters, swimmers, divers, water sports enthusiasts, and fishermen. It has even been named by some publications as the number 1 lake in the USA!
This is a long and winding lake that stretches for almost 52 miles and has nearly 800 miles of shoreline. Boaters can even take a trip from Branson, Missouri to Eureka Springs, AR on the lake!
The planned community of Holiday Island near Eureka Springs is one of the most well known and popular places to stay on the Arkansas end of the lake.
Greer’s Ferry Lake
Greer’s Ferry Lake is one of my favorites. It is where my family would go when I was young and also where I learned to slalom ski.
However, I don’t just love it because of nostalgia!
Greer’s Ferry Lake has a great combination of large open areas to run the boat fast as well as smaller coves where you can find that glassy water perfect for skiing and other water sports.
Not only that, Greer’s Ferry is ranked among one of the cleanest, clearest lakes in the nation! This is, to put it simply, a stunning lake. It has 40,000 acres of gorgeous water surrounded by mountains and bluffs.
Be sure and check out Sugarloaf Mountain which is an island that rises dramatically from the lake and provides the only island hiking trail in the state of Arkansas.
All the typical lake activities are popular here such as swimming, skiing, tubing, boating, and fishing.
You will also see a lot of people cliff jumping but exercise caution! Always know what is below you underneath the water before you jump. (One of my son in laws actually broke his heel by hitting an underwater rock jumping off of cliffs on Greer’s Ferry Lake)
There are plenty of campgrounds around the lake as well as well as some adorable small towns like Heber Springs where you can stay or get provisions.
Bull Shoals Lake
Bull Shoals is another large lake that covers parts of both Arkansas and Missouri. It is great for recreational water sports but is also renowned for fishing.
The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, walleye, catfish, and trout. Anglers can enjoy both recreational and tournament fishing throughout the year.
There are plenty of marinas as well as campgrounds and resorts to choose from to stay on the lake. We actually love the Bulls Shoals – White River State Park because you can camp here and enjoy not only Bull Shoals Lake but also trout fishing in the White river just below the Bull Shoals Dam.
Another thing that is special about this area is the abundance of wildlife, especially for birdwatchers, who are very likely to spot bald eagles and blue herons.
Lake Ouachita might be, in my opinion, the very best lake on this list.
It is huge and beautiful and rarely gets too crowded. I just love it. This is the largest lake that is fully located within the state and best of all it has allowed very, very little development on its shores.
At Lake Ouachita you will find 40,000 acres of clear water dotted with over 200 islands and surrounded by 975 miles of remote shoreline, much of which includes Ouachita National Forest.
Because it is so secluded this is another lake in Arkansas that has consistently been ranked one of the cleanest lakes in the nation. The clarity of the water makes it ideal for activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
However, motor boats, sailing, and water sports are probably the most popular activities on the lake. There are plenty of marinas and boat rental services to choose from, making it easy for visitors to explore this gorgeous lake and the surrounding area.
Lake Catherine is a smaller lake near the town of Hot Springs. Lake Catherine State Park sits right on the shores of this lake and is popular camping spot but it also has cabins available. There is a nice beach area and a marina in the state park.
This lake only covers about 1940 acres. It tends to be narrow and fairly deep as it nestles in the valleys of the Ouachita Mountains. Most people go here to fish and just enjoy the scenery. Kayaking is also popular.
Lake Hamilton is one of the busiest lakes in Arkansas. It is right by the town of Hot Springs and there is development almost all around the lake. In fact, this is probably the most residential lake on this list.
One advantage of this is that it is usually easy to find a place to stay on Lake Hamilton. Also, if you are looking for plenty of activity this is probably the lake for you!
Lake Hamilton has a vibrant lakeside community with a mix of residential homes, resorts, and nearby Hot Springs restaurants. Some of the restaurants are right on the lake and you can even boat to them if you wish.
You will also find lakeside parks and picnic areas and public swimming beaches, providing opportunities for family outings and gatherings.
Even with all the development Lake Hamilton is still very scenic and a beautiful place to visit.
Lake DeGray is especially known for the DeGray Lake Resort State Park. This is not your typical state park! It is, as the name indicates, more of a resort. It is located on the lake’s shoreline and provides a range of recreational amenities.
The park features campsites, cabins, hiking trails, picnic areas, a swimming beach, and a visitor center. Nature lovers can explore the park’s trails, which offer scenic views of the lake and the chance to spot various bird species, deer, and other wildlife.
Lake DeGray is also home to an 18-hole championship golf course, named DeGray Lake Resort Golf Course. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy playing amidst the scenic landscapes and challenging fairways.
Of course you will also find fishing, boating, kayaking, and other water sports on the Lake DeGray.
Lake Greeson is one of the lesser known lakes in the state but it really shouldn’t be! It is a reservoir located in southwest Arkansas, near the town of Murfreesboro. It is about 12 miles long and is surrounded by the forested landscapes of the Ouachita Mountains.
The setting is extremely beautiful. Daisy State Park is located on Lake Greeson and is a perfect place to camp and even offers lake tours.
Fishing is particularly popular on this lake as it is known for having underwater structures, such as submerged timber and rock formations. These offer excellent places for fishing.
Lake Greeson is also popular for camping, swimming, and boating, but, in my opinion kayaking is the perfect way to explore the lake.
Lake Greeson is also a wintering site for bald eagles so birdwatchers will love it during the winter season.
Norfork Lake is another one of the Arkansas Lakes that has been named as one of the cleanest lakes in the nation! It encompasses forty two miles of crystal blue water with over 540 miles of shoreline.
It is located near the beautiful town of Mountain Home, Arkansas and extends up into Missouri. Boating, water sports, fishing and swimming are all extremely popular on the lake.
SCUBA enthusiasts are drawn to Lake Norfork due to its clear and clean water. Divers from all over come to explore its underwater treasures including a sunken bus, a plane, bulldozer, and even the old Henderson bridge. Spearfishing on Lake Norfork is another popular activity.
The lake offers several sandy beaches and designated swimming areas for visitors to enjoy as well as plenty of marinas, boat ramps, and rental services which provide easy access for boaters and those who love water sports.
The shoreline is simply stunning with scenic bluffs, forests, and secluded coves. This is truly a gem of a lake!
Lake Chicot may be the most unique of the lakes in Arkansas on this list!
Lake Chicot is a natural oxbow lake located in southeastern Arkansas, near the town of Lake Village. It is not only the largest natural lake in Arkansas but also the largest oxbow lake in North America!
Lake Chicot is known for its scenic beauty, diverse wildlife, and recreational opportunities.
The lake stretches approximately 22 miles in length and covers an area of around 5,200 acres. It has the typical long, narrow, slightly curved shape of an oxbow lake and is surrounded by cypress trees, hardwood forests, and wetlands. The setting is truly serene and picturesque.
Due to the lake’s diverse habitats, including cypress stands and submerged timber, fishing is probably the most popular activity on Lake Chicot. Anglers come from all over to visit here and try their luck at catching largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, bream, and other freshwater fish.
You can also boat on Lake Chicot and it is a very fun place to kayak especially because you can get up close and personal to the stands of cypress trees on the lake.
I hope that you have enjoyed learning about the lakes of Arkansas and that this post will help you decide which is the perfect lake for you to visit!
Thanks so much for stopping by!