There are five lakes near Hot Springs, Arkansas scattered like jewels through the Ouachita Mountains. They are called the diamond lakes.
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is renowned for its hot mineral springs, rich history, and scenic beauty. While the Hot Springs National Park is a major draw, the region also boasts this amazing collection of stunning lakes that are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone seeking a peaceful escape.
In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey through these five lakes near Hot Springs, Arkansas, where you can bask in the beauty of nature and create unforgettable memories.
The Hot Springs area is one of the best places to explore and relax in the state.
Lakes Near Hot Springs, Arkansas
The diamond lakes are in the southwestern portion of the state in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains. Each one has different characteristics, but all are lovely!
You can learn more about Southwest Arkansas here!
If you would like to learn more about Hot Springs check out our guide to the city!
Lake Ouachita is a stunner. It is not only one of my favorite lakes near Hot Springs, Arkansas but one of my favorites in the state! It is also the one that I grew up visiting with my family.
This is the largest lake located entirely within the Arkansas state lines and spans over 40,000 acres. It was created in the 1950’s with the construction of Blakely Mountain dam on the Ouachita River.
Lake Ouachita offers a vast expanse of clear, blue water surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest. Whether you’re into fishing, boating, camping, or just relaxing, Lake Ouachita has something for everyone.
One of the best things about Lake Ouachita is that it is very carefully managed and there is almost no development on its shores. Because of this it is incredibly scenic. It is also consistently named as one of the cleanest lakes in the US!
Despite the fact that it feels so remote, the southern border of the lake is only about 15 miles from Hot Springs near the little town of Mount Ida! It is also only about an hour and a half from the capitol city of Little Rock.
The lake is teeming with various fish species, making it a popular spot for anglers. When the dam that created the lake was built the timber was left standing. This means that the fish in the lake have wonderful habitats to live, spawn, and grow.
Camping on Lake Ouachita:
Tent campers will love this lake! There are over 200 islands in Lake Ouachita and you can freely camp on any of them. Always remember to LEAVE NO TRACE!
There are numerous campgrounds on the shores of Lake Ouachita. 16 of which are managed by the corps of engineers. The campsites ranging from primitive to paved pull through sites with water and electric hook-ups.
Many of the campgrounds on Lake Ouachita feature amenities such as restrooms, showers, a boat ramp, sanitary disposal stations, playgrounds, a picnic area, electric and water hook-ups, courtesy docks, and designated swimming areas.
I am not going to try to name all of the campgrounds on Lake Ouachita. Go to the recreation.gov site here to learn more.
To learn more about our favorite RV camping near Hot Springs you can go here. These campgrounds are not necessarily on Lake Ouachita although several of our favorites are!
Kayaking and Paddleboarding:
You can also explore the numerous islands and coves by kayak or paddleboard. There is even an 8 mile water trail for kayakers!
Motorized Boat Sports:
The open waters and sheltered coves on this lake make it a perfect place for water skiing, wake boarding, tubing, or just riding around in your boat. There are several marinas on the lake where you can rent party barges or ski boats.
Yes, you can SCUBA dive in Lake Ouachita. In fact, many of the dive schools in Arkansas do their deep dives here. Check out this list of some of the great dive sites on the lake.
Marinas on lake ouachita:
There are many great marinas on Lake Ouachita where you can rent a boat, get bait and tackle, pick up some snacks, or get gas for your boat.
Lake Ouachita State Park:
Lake Ouachita State Park is one of the best state parks in the state. This park has more than 90 campsites, including 50ish class AAA sites as well as some fully equipped cabins. Many of the campsites and cabins are right on the water!
Lake Ouachita is, in my opinion, gorgeous perfection!
There are some excellent hikes around Lake Ouachita with one of the best known being the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. The various campground will have more information about hiking in the area.
Lake Hamilton is the most developed of the Diamond Lakes and is also the closest to Hot Springs. In fact, this lake is, in many ways, just a part of the town. It is surrounded by hotels, bed and breakfasts, homes, restaurants, and a myriad of recreational activities.
A couple of our favorite RV parks near Hot Springs are also located on Lake Hamilton.
Despite the development, Lake Hamilton is still beautiful with a great blend of urban entertainment and natural beauty. I mean who doesn’t enjoy driving their boat up to a restaurant dock, enjoying a great meal, and then heading back out on the water?
Lake Hamilton is a much smaller lake than Lake Ouachita. Due to the size, its development, and its proximity to Hot Springs it tends to be the busiest of all the Diamond Lakes.
I would describe Lake Hamilton as the “party” lake of this group!
Marinas on lake hamilton:
Here are a few of the Marinas and places to rent boats on Lake Hamilton
Parks on lake hamilton:
If you don’t have a boat here are a few parks right on the lake that you might enjoy.
Here are some of the restaurants on Lake Hamilton with water views!
Garvan Woodland Gardens:
Another must see spot that is located right on Lake Hamilton is Garvan Woodland Gardens. These gardens are stunning year round but you really must go in the spring when the tulips are in bloom.
If you want to learn more about some of our favorite restaurants in Hot Springs you can go here!
Lake Catherine is a long, narrow lake that is nestled in the Ouachita Mountains. This is a quiet lake that is only about 12 miles from town but offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Hot Springs.
Lake Catherine State Park:
Lake Catherine State Park is the main attraction on this 1,940-acre lake. It has some excellent RV campsites, a swimming beach, the only marina on the lake, lakefront cabins, picnic tables, a children’s playground, and much more.
At the state park you can also explore some pretty hiking trails including one of our favorites, go birdwatching, do a little camping, or have a picnic with family and friends.
Fishing on Lake Catherine
This lake is mostly known for fishing! Fishing is one of the most popular pastimes on Lake Catherine. The lake is stocked regularly with a variety of fish, including catfish, bass, and crappie.
The water level was drawn down in the photo below but you can still see that this is a pretty little lake.
Located south of Hot Springs, DeGray Lake is a reservoir on the Caddo River that offers a mix of outdoor activities and natural beauty.
The lake offers 13,800 acres for pleasure boating and water sports, fishing, camping, and swimming.
DeGray Lake Resort State Park:
The DeGray Lake Resort State Park is definitely has some of the best amenities of any state park in Arkansas. This is because it is the only resort state park in Arkansas. It has a championship golf course, a full-service marina with boat rentals, hiking trails, and more.
Additional amenities include a driving range, practice green, and pro shop; an 18-hole disc golf course; two swim beaches; basketball and tennis courts; five hiking trails; a water trail for paddlecraft; and guided horseback riding.
There are also some world-class mountain biking trails nearby.
This is also one of only a few state parks in Arkansas with a lodge.
In addition to the 90 room lodge you will find nice campsites at the state park ranging from class AAA to with full hook-ups to walk in tent sites; three rent-a-yurts, and a conference center.
Fishing and water sports are popular here, and you might even spot some wildlife like deer or bald eagles during your visit.
Marinas on Lake DeGray:
We have already mentioned the marina at the state park, but there also Iron Mountain Marina and Lodge on the southern shore of the lake.
Campsites on Lake Degray:
The state park camping is wonderful! However, you will not believe how many more campgrounds that there are around DeGray Lake! In fact, there are so many great that you likely will not have time to explore them all.
Several of these campgrounds are COE. Most have spots right on the water with plenty of shade.
Here are the campgrounds that we know of on DeGray Lake.
- Alpine Ridge
- Arlie Moore Landing
- Caddo Drive Campground
- Edgewood Campground
- Iron Mountain Park
- Point Cedar
- Shouse Ford Recreation Area
Lake Greeson on the Little Missouri River is a bit of a hidden gem among the diamond lakes near Hot Springs, Arkansas. Although locals are in the know, not as many tourists seem to find this lake. Perhaps because it is a bit further from the town of Hot Springs than some of the others.
The lake is about 50 miles southwest of Hot Springs, Arkansas. It has over 130 miles of shoreline and 7,200 acres of water. It is very scenic as it is surrounded by 15,842 acres of federally administered public lands.
Lake Greeson is located near the small town of Murfreesboro and is known for its clear waters and excellent fishing opportunities. It’s a great place for bass fishing, as well as water-based activities like boating and swimming.
It also has hunting, camping, birdwatching, hiking, and biking. The lake is a wintering site for bald eagles. A nature trail allows the visitor to reach the site of a cinnabar mine. There is also a 31-mile-long bike trail. Chimney Rock, an interesting geological formation, is also located at Lake Greeson.
Marinas on Lake Greeson:
There are 4 marinas on Lake Greeson which offer boaters fuel, picnic and fishing supplies, and boat rentals. Two of the also marinas offer vacation rental cabins.
Camping on Lake Greeson:
In our opinion Lake Greeson is an underrated lake that I think people would really enjoy!
There is one more lake near Hot Springs that you might hear people talking about and that is Lake Balboa.
Lake Balboa is located in Hot Springs Village. Hot Springs Village is a planned development that has several lakes. Lake Balboa is the largest of the lakes in this resort community and it is private.
However, if you are staying in a VRBO or Airbnb or some type of rental home or condo on Lake Balboa then you will have access to the lake. It is about 940 acres and you can kayak or boat or enjoy the sand swimming beach here.
The lakes near Hot Springs provide a perfect backdrop for relaxation and recreation, with each one offering a unique experience. I’m sure that you will find a lake to suit your preferences and create cherished memories in this stunning part of the Natural State.
Thanks for stopping by!