Arkansas is one of those unexpected hidden gems that catches many by surprise with its incredible natural beauty. This makes it the ideal place to take an RV camping trip. After all, if few people know how amazing the place is, crowd levels are sure to be lower, and all of that natural beauty is perfect for exploring in a home-on-wheels.
That said, there is a lot to know before you hit the road for Arkansas. That’s where our Arkansas RVing guide comes into play. This awesome article will give you all the info you need to know to have an absolutely amazing time visiting the Natural State.
Preparing for RV Camping
First things first, you have to make sure you’re prepared not just for a trip, but for an RV camping trip specifically. This means making sure you have a comfortable place to stay and all of the camping necessities, in addition to everyday things like your clothes and toothbrush.
Choosing the Right RV for Your Needs
In our opinion, the first thing you should do is make sure you have an RV for your RV camping trip. After all, it wouldn’t be much of an RV trip without one. Of course, if you don’t have an RV of your own, this means you’ll need to seek out an Arkansas RV rental.
Not sure where to begin when choosing your rental RV? We recommend starting by deciding whether you’d like to drive the RV to your campsite yourself or have it delivered. It’s also good to know whether you want a driveable rig, or something that has to be towed. Obviously, if you want to tow an RV yourself, you also have to make sure you have the right vehicle to do so.
Once all of that is figured out, the next steps are to 1) decide on a floor plan that meets your needs, and 2) ensure that whatever rig you pick has the amenities you require.
Packing Essentials for a Successful Trip
Having the perfect rig picked out is only the first step toward RV camping in Arkansas. The next thing you need to do? Pack the RV for a safe, comfortable, and fun camping trip. This means packing clothes, of course, but there are a number of extra things you’ll need to include for RV camping as well.
- First aid kit
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- Entertainment (books, games, movies, toys for kids)
- Outdoor recreation gear
- Electronics and chargers
- Pots, pans, and dishes
- Paper towels
- Folding chairs
- Bed sheets
- Pet gear
- RV leveling blocks
- Sewer hose and adapter
- Freshwater hose
- RV surge protector
For more suggestions on things to pack, make sure to check out this RV packing list.
Considerations for Camping in Arkansas
Having a fully packed RV isn’t the only thing you have to do to prepare for an RV trip. For instance, you also need to know the RV laws in the state you plan to visit. While the laws for driving or towing an RV do tend to be fairly similar from one state to the next, there are some minor differences, so it never hurts to check.
In Arkansas, the total length of any rig cannot exceed 65 feet. Trailer length is capped at 43.5 feet and motorhome length at 40 feet. Additionally, all rigs must be under 8.5 feet wide and 13.5 feet high. Triple towing is allowed, but a safety chain and breakaway switch are required on camping trailers over 3,000 lbs, and brakes are required on any trailer over 1,500 lbs.
Overnight parking is permitted in Arkansas state rest areas, but keep in mind that winters in Arkansas can get cold and the summer can get unbearably hot, making spring and fall the best times for dry camping.
Of course, you won’t want to hit the road without a campsite booked. The good news? Arkansas campgrounds are not hard to come by. Not only that, but there are a number of different kinds of campgrounds out there, meaning that whether you prefer luxury camping, urban camping, or something more rustic, there is an option for you.
Exploring Public Campgrounds in Arkansas
First, let’s talk about public campgrounds in Arkansas. These include some of the most beautiful state parks in the country, as well as national park campgrounds, national forest campsites, and more.
National Park Camping
The only national park in Arkansas is Hot Springs National Park. That said, it is a site that’s well worth visiting, especially if you’re at all interested in history.
Despite its small size, Hot Springs does indeed have an RV campground onsite, meaning you can camp right by Bathhouse Row and in the middle of a gorgeous piece of nature. The Gulpha Gorge Campground features full-hookup sites, flush toilets, and a beautiful escape.
National Forest Camping
What about national forests? Well, Arkansas does have a few of those, and they are wonderful options for RV camping in Arkansas.
Ouachita National Forest is located on the west side of the state and features scenic drives, beautiful views, and some of the best camping in the state. Fourche Mountain Recreation Area is one of our favorite places to camp. This Forest Service campground doesn’t have any hookups, but is more than lovely enough to make up for that. It does not accept reservations, making it perfect for last-minute trips.
State Park Camping
Next on the list: Arkansas state parks! As mentioned before, Arkansas has some really pretty state parks that really should be visited. If you can camp in one, that’s even better.
One of our favorite state parks to camp in? Crater of Diamonds State Park. This awesome spot allows guests to dig for their own diamonds—and yes, you do get to keep what you find!
Exploring Private Campgrounds and RV Parks
None of the options above appeal to you? Maybe you prefer glamping or at least a campground with amenities like showers, playgrounds, pools, and dump stations? Not to worry, Arkansas has plenty of private campgrounds as well!
We really love Kettle Campground in Eureka Springs for its excellent location, full-hookup sites, and welcoming atmosphere. Tom Sawyer RV Park in West Memphis is another excellent pick, as is Treasure Isle RV Park in Hot Springs.
Boondocking in Arkansas
Want to try your hand at dry camping? There are some great boondocking spots in Arkansas too!
The national forests mentioned above offer some options for dispersed camping, including the awesome Jack Creek Recreation Area in the Ouachita National Forest. We also really like the boondocking available in the Big Timber Wildlife Management Area and the Mike Freeze Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area.
Researching Campground Options and Making Reservations
There are a number of excellent Arkansas camping options listed above. That said, these are far from the only options.
In order to find even more awesome campgrounds for RV camping in Arkansas, we highly recommend using a site like BookOutdoors, Campspot, The Dyrt, or RoverPass for searching and reserving online. If you have a family, you might also find Jellystone helpful for finding sites, and those with dogs are sure to love the KOA campground chain. Finally, you can check out Hipcamp and Harvest Hosts for super unique campsites.
Planning Your Itinerary
With an RV full of gear and a campsite booked, you are nearly ready. The last task? Plan your itinerary. Whether you’re looking for something to do in Little Rock or an adventure in Hot Springs, there are some great options for you.
Features and Attractions in Arkansas
We’ll start with the many features and attractions in the state. We highly recommend taking one of the scenic drives found here in order to fully appreciate the scenery. While you’re out, be sure to stop at landmarks and national sites such as the Cosmic Caverns, Magic Springs, or Buffalo National River. You might even decide to follow some of the beautiful Natchez Trace Trail!
Festivals, Fairs, and Events in Arkansas
Planning your trip around an Arkansas event is a surefire way to ensure it’s a lot of fun. Some of the best events the state has to offer include:
Exploring Outdoor Activities
You will without a doubt want to spend some of your time RV camping in Arkansas soaking up the sun and enjoying the scenery in the great outdoors. Fortunately, there are a lot of outdoor spaces and activities to enjoy while in Arkansas.
Hiking, Biking and Nature Trails
Enjoy hiking or biking? If so, Arkansas has a trail for you! Don your boots or grab your bike, and get ready for an amazing adventure that you won’t soon forget when you hit one of the trails below.
The best hiking trails in the state include:
As far as biking trails go, you’re sure to love the following:
Fishing, Boating, and Water Activities
Trails are plentiful in Arkansas. Another thing that you’ll find a lot of? Water. There are lakes, streams, and rivers scattered all across the state, meaning plenty of opportunities for water-related fun.
We highly recommend fishing while in Arkansas, as the state has some wonderful fishing opportunities. Many people also enjoy basking in the sun at the state’s many beaches. We particularly love the beaches at Lake Ponder and Lake Charles. Of course, it’s also always fun to go find Arkansas’ waterfalls!
Wildlife Viewing and Photography
With an abundance of wildlife, Arkansas is the ideal place to pull out the binoculars and do some wildlife watching. See if you can find a woodpecker, watch the deer graze, or go out at night to see bats.
Arkansas’ state parks are great places to see many of these animals. Big Timber Wildlife Management Area and Mike Freeze Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area also play host to a variety of interesting creatures that are worth watching for.
Family-Friendly Activities and Attractions
Planning on taking the kids RV camping in Arkansas with you? They’re going to love it. There are tons of amazing family-friendly activities in the state and you are going to make some awesome memories as you explore.
Historical Sites and Museums
We love to add a bit of education to any family trip we take. Why not do the same by visiting museums and historical sites in Arkansas?
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site presents a unique opportunity to teach a very important history lesson to older kids. Meanwhile, President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site is a fun and educational spot for the whole family.
As far as museums go, we have a few favorites that you should know about. The Museum of Native American History in Bentonville is a great place to learn something new, and the Gangster Museum of America in Hot Springs is a unique and interesting place. We also really love the Museum of Discovery for hands-on fun in Little Rock.
Amusement Park, Zoos, and Wildlife Refuges
Of course, no list of family-friendly fun would be complete without including some amusement parks and zoos. Fortunately, Arkansas has those too!
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park in Hot Springs is an excellent place to cool off during the summer, and is easily one of the best Arkansas amusement parks. Prefer to avoid getting wet? Burns Park Funland in North Little Rock is also super fun, especially for the younger crowd.
If you’re hoping to see some animals, head to the Little Rock Zoo, Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo in Hot Springs, or Cockrills Country Critters in Austin, AR. All of these places will allow you to see some amazing animals and have a super fun time as a family.
Safety and Preparedness when RV Camping in Arkansas
Clearly, you need to go into any camping trip prepared in order to stay safe. This is just as true in Arkansas as anywhere else. Fortunately, by using the info below—as well as a bit of common sense—you should be good to go.
Weather Conditions and Natural Disaster Preparedness
We wrote briefly earlier about how hot Arkansas summers can be. Because of this, it’s important to head into hiking and other summertime outdoor activities fully hydrated and with plenty of water on hand.
In addition to heat, Arkansas can also see severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. These happen most often in the spring, but can occur at other times as well. In order to be prepared, download a good weather app, avoid parking your rig in flood zones, know where the nearest tornado shelter is, and have a “bug out” bag ready with a radio, flashlights, food, water, and a first aid kit. Never ignore a tornado warning, and get to shelter as soon as one is issued for your area.
Wildlife Encounters and Precautions
Considering Arkansas is called the Natural State, it should come as no surprise that it is home to a lot of wildlife. We listed a few of the animals you might see in the state above. That said, those are far from the only creatures to call Arkansas home.
Some of the most dangerous animals in the state include feral pigs, cottonmouth snakes, and rattlesnakes, but any animal can be dangerous. Therefore, it is important that you always give wild animals their space and never pet them or try to feed them. If you see an animal that looks like it needs help, call a professional rather than trying to help the animal on your own.
Yes, Arkansas is a truly amazing place and is the perfect RV camping destination. This guide should get you started, but if you need even more inspiration, be sure to use the links below to find some of the best little pieces of this amazing state.