van life destinations in Arkansas

Sure, here is a list of some great van life destinations in Arkansas, categorized by what you might be looking for:

for Nature & Outdoor Activities:

Blanchard Springs Caverns: These caverns are home to beautiful formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone. There are guided tours available, or you can explore the caverns on your own.

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area: This park offers stunning views of the Boston Mountains, as well as hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. There is also a campground with RV and tent sites.

Lake Catherine State Park: This park is located on the shores of Lake Catherine, and offers swimming, boating, and fishing. There are also several hiking trails and a campground with RV and tent sites.

Queen Wilhelmina State Park: This park is located in the Ouachita Mountains and offers stunning views, hiking trails, and a waterfall. There is also a campground with RV and tent sites.

Small Towns & Culture:

  • Eureka Springs: This Victorian-era town is known for its unique architecture, shops, and restaurants. There are also several historical sites and museums to explore.
  • Bentonville: This city is home to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, as well as several other art galleries and museums. There are also several bike trails and parks in the area.
  • Fayetteville: This college town has a vibrant downtown scene with shops, restaurants, and bars. There are also several parks and trails in the area, including the Razorback Greenway.
  • Little Rock: The capital of Arkansas, Little Rock has a variety of attractions, including the Clinton Presidential Center, the Arkansas State Capitol, and the Riverfront Park.
  • Fort Smith: This historic city is home to the Fort Smith National Historic Site, as well as several museums and art galleries. There are also several casinos in the area.

Unique Experiences:

  • The Crater of Diamonds State Park: This park is the only place in the world where you can diamond mine for free. There are also hiking trails and a visitor center to explore.
  • Thorncrown Chapel: This unique chapel is made entirely of glass and wood. It is a popular spot for weddings and other events.
  • The Walmart Museum: This museum tells the story of the world’s largest retailer. It is located in Bentonville, Arkansas.
  • The Scott Plantation: This antebellum plantation is now a museum that tells the story of slavery in Arkansas. It is located in Scott, Arkansas.
  • The Museum of the Arkansas River: This museum tells the story of the Arkansas River and its impact on the state. It is located in Little Rock, Arkansas.

No matter what you’re looking for, Arkansas has a vanlife destination that’s perfect for you. So pack your bags, hit the road, and start exploring!


Ozark-St. Francis National Forest:

This massive forest covers over 1.8 million acres and offers endless opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and more. There are also several scenic drives, including the Pig Trail Scenic Byway and the Talimena Scenic Drive.

Camping:

  • Can I camp anywhere in the forest?
    • No, dispersed camping is allowed in designated areas only. Check with the U.S. Forest Service for specific locations and regulations. Developed campgrounds are also available within the forest.
  • Do I need a permit for dispersed camping?
    • It depends. Stays shorter than 14 days typically don’t require a permit, but some areas might have specific rules. Stays exceeding 14 days require a permit. Contact the nearest ranger district for details.
  • Are there any amenities available at dispersed campsites?
    • No, dispersed campsites are primitive and offer no amenities like water, restrooms, or trash disposal. Pack accordingly and practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • How long can I stay at a dispersed campsite?
    • The maximum stay at a single dispersed campsite is 14 days. After that, you must move at least 5 miles away to another dispersed site.
  • Where are the best campgrounds for campervans?
    • Several campgrounds accommodate campervans, including:
      • Blanchard Springs Campground: Offers electrical hookups and showers.
      • Gunner Pool Campground: Near swimming areas and scenic overlooks.
      • Haw Creek Falls Campground: Close to hiking trails and waterfalls.
      • White Rock Mountain Campground: Family-friendly with scenic views.
  • Where can I find dispersed camping sites?
    • Look for Forest Service roads leading to remote areas and follow regulations regarding distance from roads, water sources, and other campsites.
  • Can I camp anywhere in the forest with my campervan?
    • No, dispersed camping is not allowed in all areas. Check maps and signs for designated dispersed camping zones and follow all regulations to avoid fines and protect the environment.

Regulations:

  • Are there any restrictions on vehicle size or type for dispersed camping?
    • Yes, some areas have restrictions on vehicle size and type. Be sure to check the regulations for the specific area you’re interested in.
  • Can I have campfires?
    • Yes, but only in designated fire rings or using portable, self-contained fire pits. Always obtain firewood legally and responsibly. Fire restrictions may be in place depending on the season and conditions, so check before starting a fire.
  • What are the rules about generators and noise?
    • Generator use is typically limited to specific hours and may not be allowed at all in certain areas. Respect quiet hours and avoid disturbing other campers.

Logistics:

  • Where can I find water and dump waste?
    • There are no designated dump stations within the forest for RVs. You’ll need to locate private campgrounds or RV parks with these facilities. Water sources are limited in dispersed camping areas, so plan accordingly and bring enough for your stay. Consider using refillable containers and treating water if necessary.
  • What is the cell phone reception like?
    • Cell phone reception can be unreliable in the forest, especially in remote areas. Be prepared for limited connectivity and have offline maps or navigation downloaded in advance.
  • What are the nearest towns for supplies and services?
    • Several towns surround the forest, including Russellville, Clarksville, Harrison, and Jasper. Research beforehand to know where you can find groceries, gas, repairs, and other necessities.

Activities:

  • What are the best things to do in the forest?
    • Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, wildlife watching, scenic drives, and visiting historical sites are just a few options.
  • Are there any restrictions on activities for campervans?
    • Follow all regulations regarding off-road driving, noise levels, and waste disposal. Respect wildlife and leave no trace.

Additional Information:

  • Weather: The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest experiences a variety of weather conditions throughout the year. Be prepared for hot summers, mild winters, and occasional rain or snow. Check forecasts before your trip and pack appropriate clothing and gear.
  • Wildlife: Be aware of and respect the wildlife in the forest. This includes bears, deer, snakes, and other animals. Store food properly, avoid attracting animals to your campsite, and follow safety guidelines for encounters.
  • Leave No Trace: It’s crucial to practice responsible camping to protect the environment and ensure a positive experience for everyone. Pack out all trash, minimize your impact, and respect the natural beauty of the forest.

Devil’s Den State Park: 

This park is home to a natural sandstone arch, as well as several hiking trails and waterfalls. There is also a campground with RV and tent sites.

people walking on park during daytime

General:

  • Is campervan camping allowed in Devil’s Den State Park?
    • Yes, campervans are welcome! The park offers both developed campsites with hookups and primitive sites suitable for smaller vans.
  • What amenities are available in the park?
    • Developed campsites offer restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and fire rings. Primitive sites are basic, with only fire rings and picnic tables. Other park amenities include a swimming area, boat launch, hiking trails, and visitor center.
  • What is the best time of year to visit?
    • Spring and fall offer pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds. Summer can be hot and humid, while winter brings cooler temperatures and potential for rain or snow.
  • Do I need a reservation for campervan camping?
    • Reservations are highly recommended for all campsites, especially during peak season. Book online or by phone in advance.

Camping:

  • Where are the best campsites for campervans?
    • Developed campsites suitable for campervans include:
      • Campsite Loop A: Offers electric hookups and is closest to the swimming area and amenities.
      • Campsite Loop B: Quiet and secluded, with some sites suitable for larger RVs.
      • Campsite Loop C: More primitive with fire rings and picnic tables, ideal for smaller vans.
    • Primitive sites are located further away from amenities and offer a rustic experience.
  • What are the campervan size restrictions?
    • Developed campsites can accommodate most campervans under 30 feet. Check specific site descriptions for size limitations. Primitive sites have no size restrictions, but access roads may be narrow.
  • Can I camp outside designated sites?
    • No, camping is only allowed in designated campsites.

Activities:

  • What are the best things to do in the park?
    • Hiking, swimming, snorkeling in Devil’s Den spring, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, geocaching, exploring caves, and visiting the visitor center are popular activities.
  • Are there any restrictions on activities for campervans?
    • Follow park regulations regarding parking, noise levels, and waste disposal. Respect wildlife and leave no trace.

Additional:

  • What are the road conditions like for campervans?
    • Park roads are paved and easily accessible for most campervans. However, some primitive campsites may require higher clearance.
  • Where can I find water and dump waste?
    • Water is available at the campground restrooms and dump stations are located outside the park entrance.
  • What is the cell phone reception like?
    • Cell phone reception can be spotty in the park, especially in remote areas. Consider downloading offline maps for navigation.

Ouachita National Forest:

aerial shot of road surrounded by green trees

This forest is home to the tallest mountains in Arkansas, as well as beautiful lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. There are also several campgrounds and hiking trails to explore.

Certainly! Here are some frequently asked questions about campervan life in Ouachita National Forest:

What are the camping options available in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest offers a variety of camping opportunities, including primitive camping, developed campgrounds, and group camping . You can pitch a tent, park the RV, pop-up trailer or pick-up truck, hang a hammock, or roll out the sleeping bag 12.

What are the recreational activities available in Ouachita National Forest? The forest’s serene mountain views offer a wide variety of year-round recreational opportunities! Whether you are a hiker, camper, kayaker, horseback rider, hunter, fisherman, or anything in between, the Ouachita National Forests provide new adventures around every bend 3. Before embarking on your outdoor adventure, be prepared with maps available in several formats: Interactive, downloadable, geo-referenced, and also available for printing at home 3.

What is the size of Ouachita National Forest?
The forest covers more than 1.8 million acres of scenic drives, crystal clear mountain streams, and lush hardwood and pine forests 3.

What is the fire situation in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest allows primitive camping almost anywhere unless there is a sign stating otherwise, or it is a wildlife food plot 1. The Ouachita National Forest offers a variety of camping opportunities. You can pitch a tent, park the RV, pop-up trailer or pick-up truck, hang a hammock, or roll out the sleeping bag 12.

What are the rules for camping in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has specific rules and regulations for camping. For example, you must obtain a permit for group camping, and you must follow the Leave No Trace principles 1. You can find more information about the rules and regulations on the official website of the Ouachita National Forest 1.

What are the best campsites in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many beautiful campsites, but some of the best ones include Albert Pike Recreation Area, Charlton Recreation Area, and Lake Sylvia Recreation Area 1.

What is the weather like in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters . The average temperature in the summer is around 80°F, while in the winter, it is around 50°F .

What is the best time to visit Ouachita National Forest?
The best time to visit the forest is from March to May and from September to November . During these months, the weather is mild, and the forest is less crowded.

What are the hiking trails in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many hiking trails, including the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, the Eagle Rock Loop, and the Womble Trail 3.

What are the fishing opportunities in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many fishing opportunities, including the Ouachita River, Lake Ouachita, and Lake Sylvia 3.

What are the hunting opportunities in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many hunting opportunities, including deer, turkey, and squirrel hunting 3.

What are the horseback riding trails in Ouachita National Forest? The forest has many horseback riding trails, including the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, the Charlton Trail, and the Womble Trail 3.

What are the kayaking opportunities in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many kayaking opportunities, including the Ouachita River, Lake Ouachita, and Lake Sylvia 3.

What are the scenic drives in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many scenic drives, including the Talimena Scenic Drive, the Ouachita National Scenic Byway, and the Arkansas Scenic 7 Byway 3.

What are the wildlife viewing opportunities in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many wildlife viewing opportunities, including black bears, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys 3.

What are the birdwatching opportunities in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many birdwatching opportunities, including bald eagles, ospreys, and woodpeckers 3.

What are the fall foliage viewing opportunities in Ouachita National Forest?
The forest has many fall foliage viewing opportunities, including the Talimena Scenic Drive and the Ouachita National Scenic Byway.

Additional Resources:


Buffalo National River:

lake between trees and mountains

This 135-mile river is a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. There are also several campgrounds along the river, making it a great place to base yourself for exploring the area.

Certainly! Here are some frequently asked questions about campervan life in Buffalo National River:

What are the camping options available in Buffalo National River?
The park offers a variety of camping opportunities, including primitive camping with just vault toilets, no water and no designated sites to developed with electric and water hook-ups for RV camping 1. You can pitch a tent, park the RV, pop-up trailer or pick-up truck, hang a hammock, or roll out the sleeping bag 12.

What are the recreational activities available in Buffalo National River?
The park’s serene river views offer a wide variety of year-round recreational opportunities! Whether you are a hiker, camper, kayaker, horseback rider, hunter, fisherman, or anything in between, the Buffalo National River provides new adventures around every bend 3. Before embarking on your outdoor adventure, be prepared with maps available in several formats: Interactive, downloadable, geo-referenced, and also available for printing at home 3.

What is the size of Buffalo National River?
The park covers 95,730 acres of scenic drives, crystal clear river streams, and lush hardwood and pine forests 3.

What is the fire situation in Buffalo National River?
The park has specific rules and regulations for camping. For example, three campgrounds take reservations: Steel Creek (Upper District), Tyler Bend (Middle District), and Buffalo Point (Lower District). Reservations can be made online at www.recreation.gov. All other campgrounds along the river have sites available on a first come, first served basis 1.

What are the rules for camping in Buffalo National River?
The park has specific rules and regulations for camping. For example, you must obtain a permit for group camping, and you must follow the Leave No Trace principles 1. You can find more information about the rules and regulations on the official website of the Buffalo National River 1.

What are the best campsites in Buffalo National River? The park has many beautiful campsites, but some of the best ones include Steel Creek, Tyler Bend, and Buffalo Point 1.

What is the weather like in Buffalo National River?
The park has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. The average temperature in the summer is around 80°F, while in the winter, it is around 50°F.

What is the best time to visit Buffalo National River? The best time to visit the park is from March to May and from September to November. During these months, the weather is mild, and the park is less crowded.

What are the hiking trails in Buffalo National River?
The park has many hiking trails, including the Buffalo River Trail, the Lost Valley Trail, and the Hemmed-In Hollow Trail 3.

What are the fishing opportunities in Buffalo National River?
The park has many fishing opportunities, including the Buffalo River, Crooked Creek, and White River 3.

What are the hunting opportunities in Buffalo National River?
The park has many hunting opportunities, including deer, turkey, and squirrel hunting 3.

What are the horseback riding trails in Buffalo National River? The park has many horseback riding trails, including the Buffalo River Trail, the Centerpoint Trail, and the Sylamore Trail 3.

What are the kayaking opportunities in Buffalo National River?
The park has many kayaking opportunities, including the Buffalo River, Crooked Creek, and White River 3.

What are the scenic drives in Buffalo National River?
The park has many scenic drives, including the Buffalo River Trail, the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway, and the Boston Mountains Scenic Loop 3.

What are the wildlife viewing opportunities in Buffalo National River?
The park has many wildlife viewing opportunities, including black bears, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys 3.

What are the birdwatching opportunities in Buffalo National River?
The park has many birdwatching opportunities, including bald eagles, ospreys, and woodpeckers 3.

What are the fall foliage viewing opportunities in Buffalo National River?
The park has many fall foliage viewing opportunities, including the Buffalo River Trail and the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway 3.


Hot Springs National Park:

lake between trees and mountains

This park is home to naturally heated springs that have been used for centuries for their therapeutic properties. There are also several hiking trails and historical sites to explore.

Is campervanning allowed in Hot Springs National Park?
Yes, campervanning is allowed within designated camping areas.

Can you park a campervan overnight in Hot Springs National Park?
Overnight parking is permitted in designated campsites, but not generally allowed elsewhere in the park.

Are there any dedicated campsites for campervans?
Gulpha Gorge Campground is suitable for campervans but check for size limitations.

Do I need to reserve a campsite for my campervan, or are they first-come-first-served?
Gulpha Gorge Campground operates on a first-come-first-served basis.

What facilities are available at campervan campsites in Hot Springs National Park?
Gulpha Gorge has full hookups, including water, electricity, and a dump station.

Are pets allowed in the campervan areas of Hot Springs National Park?
Pets are allowed in the campground but must be leashed.

What size campervan can be accommodated?
There are limitations on the length of vehicles; check the park’s latest guidelines for size restrictions.

Is there a maximum stay limit for campervans in the park?
Yes, the maximum stay at Gulpha Gorge Campground is usually 14 days.

What are the fees for campervan sites in Hot Springs National Park?
There is a nightly fee for campsites with hookups; check for current rates.

Are there any dump stations in the park for campervan waste?
Yes, there is a dump station available for campers at Gulpha Gorge.

Can you refill potable water tanks in the park?
Yes, you can refill water tanks at Gulpha Gorge Campground.

Are open fires allowed at campervan sites?
Fire regulations may vary by season and conditions. Confirm current fire rules upon arrival.

Are generator uses permitted in Hot Springs National Park campervan spots?
Generators are allowed but may be subject to certain hours and noise level restrictions.

Is Wi-Fi available at any campervan sites within Hot Springs National Park?
Wi-Fi is not typically provided at campgrounds in national parks, including Hot Springs.

How close is the nearest town for supplies and amenities?
The town of Hot Springs is adjacent to the national park, offering stores for resupply.

What should I be aware of in terms of wildlife when camping in the park?
You may encounter wildlife such as deer. Keep your distance, store food securely, and never feed the animals.

What kind of weather conditions can I expect while campervanning in Hot Springs National Park?
Expect warm, humid summers, and mild to cool winters. Always check forecasts before your visit.

Can I explore the hot springs while living in my campervan in the park?
Yes, you can visit the hot springs, but bathing facilities are outside of the park.

What emergency services are available for campervan issues within the park?
For emergency services, dial 911. For campervan-specific issues, local tow services and mechanics are in the nearby town.

Are there restrictions on what I can bring into the park related to campervan life?
Park regulations prohibit certain items, like firewood from certain areas due to pest control. Always check the latest park regulations before your visit.

When is peak season at Hot Springs National Park?
Typically, peak season runs from late spring through early fall.

Should I expect campgrounds to be full during peak season?
Yes, especially on weekends and holidays, campgrounds can reach capacity.

Can campervan spots be reserved during peak season?
Campervan spots at Gulpha Gorge are first-come-first-served, so arrive early.

How does the peak season affect traffic in the park?
Expect more traffic on park roads and potential delays during peak times.

Are there times of day when the park is less crowded even in peak season?
Early mornings and late afternoons might be less crowded.

Can accessing the hot springs be difficult due to peak season crowds?
Bathhouse Row and the hot springs can get quite busy; plan visits for early or later in the day.

Are there park shuttles available to mitigate peak season traffic?
There is no shuttle service within Hot Springs National Park.

Does the National Park Service implement any crowd control measures during peak season?
Like many national parks, they may regulate parking and access to certain areas during high visitation periods.

How do peak season crowds affect available services and amenities?
Services like restaurants and restrooms may have longer wait times.

Are there specific strategies for campervanners to avoid peak-season crowds?
Consider exploring less popular trails and attractions or visiting the park during weekdays.


Lake Ouachita:

This is the largest lake in Arkansas and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and swimming. There are also several campgrounds and resorts around the lake.

In the heart of Arkansas, encircled by the Ouachita National Forest, lies a reservoir known as Lake Ouachita. The story begins with Alex and Jordan, intrepid explorers at heart, who decided to trade city lights for the star-lit skies of the open road—a journey that folded into a chapter of campervan life, with Lake Ouachita’s serenity as their chosen backdrop.

Their campervan was a vintage affair, a 1980s rig that Alex had painstakingly restored and modernized with homey touches. They named her “Belle Vue” because of the beautiful views they knew would unfurl before her wide windows. Every nook inside Belle Vue told a story; every storage compartment was a well-thought-out puzzle piece. She was compact, but to Alex and Jordan, she was a rolling canvas of their minimalist philosophy.

They planned to reach Lake Ouachita in early Spring, timing their adventure with the blossom of dogwoods and wildflowers. As they drove into the Ouachita region, the rush of urban life receded in the rearview mirror, replaced by the allure of undulating hills and the promise of placid waters.

On arrival, the wide expanse of America’s largest man-made, unspoiled lake beckoned. They found a secluded spot on the eastern shore, far from the more frequented campgrounds. It wasn’t an official campsite, but it was perfect for their purpose—peaceful, natural, and with an edge-of-the-world feel to it.

The days were spent on simple joys like exploring the myriad of forest trails that wriggled like earthworms into dense woodlands and kayaking on the gently lapping waters of the cove they called home. Each morning, they would brew coffee on their portable stove and sip it outside, absorbing the landscape’s tranquility.

The nights belonged to the lullaby of water kissing the shores, the symphony of crickets, and conversations by the campfire. They would often lay on the roof of Belle Vue, wrapped in blankets, pointing out constellations and shooting stars—a natural display far more enthralling than any digital screen could offer.
Their campervan life by Lake Ouachita wasn’t devoid of challenges, though. They learned to conserve water with greater discipline, repair Belle Vue’s quirks on the go, and coexist with the wildlife—be it the curious raccoon that raided their food stash or the choir of frogs that refused to acknowledge bedtime. Yet, each hurdle taught them resilience and the ability to laugh in the face of adversity.

As the weeks slipped by, Alex journaled their experiences in a leather-bound book, while Jordan captured moments through a lens, snapshots that froze time and held echoes of laughter, whispers of the wind, and the stillness of the lake. Their story at Lake Ouachita wasn’t just about embracing campervan life. It was a transformation. They learned to listen—both to nature and each other with a new depth.

They trod lighter on the earth, learned the rhythm of the lake, and in finding solitude, discovered an unspoken bond, one that doesn’t just fill your life but expands it.
As Spring cascaded into Summer, and the promise of the road beckoned once more, they knew Lake Ouachita hadn’t just been a stopover, but a profound chapter in their lives—a story of living simply, deeply, and with purpose.

Belle Vue rolled out just as quietly as it had rolled in, leaving behind only whispers of campfire smoke and a patch of flattened grass, while Alex and Jordan carried the lake’s soulful essence within, along with the unquenchable thirst for the next horizon.