Lake Ouachita State Park near Hot Springs, Arkansas is nestled in the majestic Ouachita National Forest. For people who love outdoor activities, boating and camping, the 370- acre park is a paradise offering wonderful opportunities for fishing, boating and water sports. Lake Ouachita features 40,000 acres of pristine waters and 975 miles of scenic shoreline. There is a full-service onsite marina, hiking trails and convenient picnic areas, making Lake Ouachita State Park an ideal destination for a getaway with friends and family.
Three Sisters’ Springs
The natural, free-flowing Three Sisters’ Springs located in the park has been a major attraction to the area since the 1880’s. Visitors will notice plaques marking each site to explain which ailments the springs claim to cure, including stomach problems, irregularities in blood pressure and insomnia.
Cabins and Campsites
The park offers accommodation options including two and three bedroom fully-equipped cabins and over a hundred campsites. The newest cabins offer a contemporary design and energy conservation features with spectacular views of the lake.
Lake Ouachita is known as one of the cleanest lakes in the entire nation, making it a mecca for those who want to fish for largemouth bass, catfish, bream, stripers and crappie. Boat rentals include canoes, peddle boats, smaller boats from 16 feet and 29-foot party barges. There are also 70 boat slips available for rent at the full-service marina.
Visitors vacationing at Ouachita State Park will find waterskiing, snorkeling, scuba diving and sailing, as well as canoeing and fishing. Kayakers will love the quiet coves around the lake, and may elect to take a guided kayak tour.
Dogwood Trail through the Ouachita National Forest is an easy, half-mile stroll. Interpretive signs explain the wildlife found in the region. The Caddo Bend Trail, which starts at the park amphitheater, is more strenuous, making it ideal for those who are looking for a four mile lakeside path. Expect to see water views, wildflowers, quartz and boulder gardens. There is an observation deck that overlooks the lake for nature lovers and photographers.
There are several types of tours offered at Lake Ouachita State Park, including the popular Scenic Lake Tour that begins at the marina. This barge tour will expose you to the immense lake with its islands and gorgeous scenery. The park interpreter will explain the wildlife and geology of the lake, as well as its history. Reservations and tickets are available at the Visitor Center. Other tours include Kayak Koving and Geocaching.
Birdwatching at Lake Ouachita State Park
Lake Ouachita State Park in Arkansas is known as a spectacular destination for serious birdwatchers. The park offers a wide range of facilities, including a swimming area, water sports like snorkeling waterskiing and scuba diving, and scenic trails. There is a full-service marina and boat rental service with 70 boat slips, and visitors can enjoy sailing, kayaking and canoeing in the pristine lake waters. For those who want to stay overnight, there are campsites and deluxe lakeside cabins. Interpretive park guides offer a variety of guided tours, including a birding tour to appreciate the array of birds found in the area. You can also view a free visual presentation of the park’s birds at the Visitor Center.
Purple Martins on Bird Island
Bird Island in Lake Ouachita is designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the prestigious Audubon Society. The designation was attributed to the island because of the large number of Purple Martins that come here to roost in summer. Estimates for the number of birds stopping on the island before their migration to South America range up to a whopping 50,000 birds.
The 1,260-foot island, set in the middle of the lake, is approximately 100 feet across at its widest part. It is about a mile away from the closest shoreline point. Lake Ouachita State Park offers Purple Martin boat tours in July and August on Saturdays and Thursday evenings.
Lake Ouachita provides an outstanding habitat for adult and juvenile eagles that migrate south when northern lakes freeze in winter. Attracted by an abundant food supply and the surrounding forest, eagles appear in the early morning hours hunting for food. They may be seen perched up high in the trees taking advantage of the warm rays of the sun.
The Winter Eagle Watch Cruise is a good way to view eagles and other birds on the lake. Tours are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday in season and take approximately 1.5 hours aboard a covered barge. You will cruise the shoreline for the best view. Take along binoculars and a telephoto lens camera.
The Call of the Loons
See loons in the wild and hear their unusual mournful wail. Typically one of the pair of loons calls to indicate its location, and moments later you will hear the answering of the mate. Loons spend the winter and early spring on Lake Ouachita, and then they migrate back up north to nest. The call of the wild loon can be heard for long distance
For up to date information, check the schedule and purchase tickets at the Visitors Center.
Lake Ouachita State Park
5451 Mountain Pine Road
Mountain Pine, Arkansas 71956