You will love exploring Ozark and St. Francis National Forests in central and northwestern Arkansas. The Ozark Forest covers more than 1 million acres while the St. Francis National Forest covers 20,000 acres. St. Francis is the only national forest offering Mississippi River access. It is also one of the very few national forests to provide visitors with a chance to go caving. Mt. Magazine State Park is in St. Francis National Forest. In addition to caving, you can find many fun things to do in these national forests managed as one unit, including swimming, fishing, scenic driving, and hiking.
You will find many fun things to do at Ozark and St. Francis National Forests, so bring your RV to one of the 24 campgrounds in these locations or another campground in the area. If you do not have an RV, experience the joys of RV living by renting one on RVshare.com.
Beech Point Campground is at Mississippi River State Park within Saint Francis National Forest. Enjoy easy access to seven bodies of water within this park that usually offer outstanding fishing. Rates start at about $12 per night at this campground sitting on top of Crowley's Ridge. Water hookup: Yes Electrical hookup: Yes Sewer hookup: Yes Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Fishing, hiking
Blanchard Springs Recreation Area provides easy access to Mirror Lake, where the rainbow trout fishing is often outstanding. Blanchard Springs Caverns is near this campground. Enjoy beautiful hikes where you can see a waterfall gushing out of a hillside at this campground, where rates start at about $10 per night. Water hookup: No Electrical hookup: No Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Hiking trails, restrooms, lake
Rent a boat to play on Cove Lake when staying at Cove Lake Recreation Area. The lake is also a great place to go for a swim. Rates start at about $15 per night. Water hookup: Seasonal Electrical hookup: Seasonal Sewer hookup: No Wi-Fi: No Pet-friendly: Yes Other amenities: Lake, swimming beach, boat rental
This hike near Deer, Arkansas, runs by two waterfalls and a cave as it follows a babbling brook before reaching a natural stone bridge. This loop trail starting near the picnic area in the Alum Cove Natural Bridge Recreation Area runs across several switchbacks, and you can hike through the cave.
Length: 1.2 miles
The North Sycamore Creek Trail runs along creeks before it climbs to ridges with magnificent views of the entire area. While the main trail is 13.75 miles long, there is a well-maintained 10-mile extension. The original trail runs through the Blanchard Springs, Gunner Pool, and Barkshed day-use areas.
Length: 13.75 miles
Huckleberry Mountain Trail is a loop trail initially designed for horses. It meanders along the Shoal Creek. While this trail crosses several graveled old logging roads, parts of it are very remote. It also runs through several campgrounds, including Horse Camp, The Old Walnut Tree Camp, The Huckleberry Camp, and Quarry Camp.
Length: 18.3 miles
This trail is at the top of the Illinois Bayou River Drainage. It is a fabulous place for a family-and-pet-friendly hike because you can see many layers of rock left over thousands of years by the river. Unique rock formations called pedestals line this route.
Length: 1.7 miles
The Buzzard Roost Trail near Pelsor, Arkansas, follows a four-wheeler road through the Ozark Forest. The beginning of this trail is flat and runs along a ridge with stunning scenery. Then, it runs down a hill to a small pond. You will end at an area with many round rocks to explore, a natural stone bridge, and narrow passageways to wander.
Length: 4 miles
There are many places to go fishing in the Ozark and St. Francis National Forests. Bear Creek Lake Recreation Area has over 30 miles of shoreline to fish from, where the bass are often biting. This location is also a fabulous place to fish from a tube or a boat. Mirror Lake is enclosed by two historic dams and stocked with rainbow trout. State officials periodically stock the upper and lower lakes in the Brook Creek Recreation Area with bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. The Upper Buffalo River can be a great place to fish for bass and sunfish for those looking for a wilderness fishing experience.
While there are no official geocaches in the Ozark and St. Francis National Forests, there are several nearby in the Bentonville and Rogers area. You can also find a geocache on the Old Railroad Trail and along the Big Spring Nature Trail near Gilbert, Arkansas.
It is often easier to go nature watching and bird watching at St. Francis National Forest because of the wilderness atmosphere found at Ozark National Forest. You can see deer and wild turkeys in most areas of these forests. There are several scenic byways, which can be great places to see nature. The Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway runs 35 miles from the Boston Mountains to the Buffalo National River. This route is beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.
The Tyler Bend area in the Ozark National Forest is an excellent place to go stargazing. This area has applied to be an International Dark Sky location.
Address: Ozark National Forest Russellville, Arkansas 72801 St. Francis National Forest 2675 Arkansas 44 East, Marianna, Arkansas 72360
Fee: Entry fee $0
Be sure to include a trip to the Ozark and St. Francis National Forests in your travel plans very soon. The federal government left Ozark National Forest as a wilderness area, which can be a great way to see what the state looked like when surveyors were sent out from near this location to survey the Louisiana Purchase. There is lots to do at St. Francis National Forest, including fishing, swimming, hiking, and seeing plants and wildlife. The best way to make this trip is in an RV. If you do not have one, rent one from RVshare.