Best Boating in Arkansas

Large 29 foot boat crossing lake at full speed in Arkansas.
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For those seeking the best boating experiences in Arkansas, the Natural State offers a diverse array of stunning water bodies and rivers to explore. From the serene shores of Lake Ouachita to the adventure-packed Buffalo National River, Arkansas is a treasure trove of boating opportunities. Whether you’re in search of pristine natural beauty, excellent fishing, or water-based recreational activities, these waterways provide a perfect backdrop for unforgettable adventures. Join us on a journey as we uncover the top destinations for the best boating in Arkansas, where the charm of the outdoors meets the joy of being on the water.



Lake Ouachita

Within the pristine Ouachita National Forest, Lake Ouachita is a gem of natural beauty and a paradise for boating enthusiasts in Arkansas. Known for its captivating scenery, this lake offers a serene escape where emerald waters meet the lush, forested shoreline. Boating on Lake Ouachita is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquil embrace of nature while enjoying recreational activities like fishing, swimming, and water sports. With its abundant camping options and a calming ambiance, Lake Ouachita is an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful and immersive boating experience.

Reasons to Boat in Lake Ouachita:

  • Scenic Beauty: Lake Ouachita is known for its stunning natural beauty, surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, making it a picturesque destination for boating.
  • Fishing: The lake offers excellent fishing opportunities, including bass, catfish, and crappie, attracting anglers from all around.
  • Recreation: Boating here allows for various water-based activities, such as water skiing, jet skiing, and swimming.
  • Camping: Numerous campsites along the shoreline make it a great spot for boaters who want to camp by the water.
  • Peaceful Environment: With a vast expanse of water and limited development, Lake Ouachita provides a tranquil and serene boating experience.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Water Shoes


Lake Norrell

Near the city of Little Rock, Lake Norrell offers a tranquil escape into the heart of nature, away from the urban hustle and bustle. This charming lake is a hidden gem, known for its scenic beauty and deep, clear waters, making it an ideal spot for boating enthusiasts seeking a serene and picturesque experience. The surrounding woodlands and calm ambiance create a perfect setting for those who wish to relax, fish, or enjoy a leisurely picnic while gently cruising along the lake’s shores. Lake Norrell’s family-friendly atmosphere and excellent fishing opportunities make it a welcoming destination for boaters of all ages, promising memorable outings on the water.

Reasons to Boat in Lake Norrell:

  • Scenic Beauty: Lake Norrell offers a peaceful and picturesque setting surrounded by lush greenery, making it a serene destination for boating. The clear waters and natural surroundings create a soothing atmosphere.
  • Fishing Opportunities: Anglers can enjoy fishing for various freshwater species, including bass, crappie, and catfish, making it an ideal location for those looking to reel in a catch.
  • Birdwatching: The lake’s tranquil environment and the adjacent woodlands provide excellent opportunities for birdwatching and observing local wildlife.
  • Relaxation and Picnicking: Boating on Lake Norrell allows for leisurely picnicking and relaxation. You can anchor in a secluded cove or along the shoreline to enjoy a peaceful day on the water.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The lake is home to diverse wildlife, and boaters may spot bald eagles, deer, and a variety of birds.

Recommended Gear: Rope, Water Shoes, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Compass, Paddle


Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake, located in the Ozark Mountains, is a versatile destination for boating enthusiasts, whether you’re looking for leisurely exploration or exhilarating water sports. The lake’s clear, inviting waters make it perfect for swimming, diving, and enjoying water-based recreational activities. Boaters can take advantage of well-equipped marinas, easy boat access points, and the vibrant community that surrounds this popular lake. Surrounded by lush forests and with various events and festivals hosted throughout the year, Beaver Lake offers a dynamic and entertaining boating experience.

Reasons to Boat in Beaver Lake:

  • Recreational Activities: Beaver Lake is popular for boating, water sports, and recreational fishing, making it a versatile destination.
  • Clean Waters: The lake is known for its clear waters, making it ideal for swimming and diving.
  • Marinas and Services: Boaters can take advantage of well-equipped marinas and rental services.
  • Camping and Picnicking: Many parks and campgrounds along the shoreline provide opportunities for picnicking and camping.
  • Events and Festivals: Beaver Lake hosts various events, including regattas and fishing tournaments, creating a vibrant boating community.

Recommended Gear: Sunglasses, Paddle, Sunscreen, Dry Box, Waterproof Phone Case, Anchor


Greers Ferry Lake

Perched in the picturesque landscape of the Ozark Mountains, Greers Ferry Lake is a mecca for boaters and fishing aficionados. Its tranquil, crystal-clear waters provide an excellent backdrop for various water activities. Anglers will delight in the lake’s diverse fish population, including bass and crappie. With a range of marinas, boat ramps, and camping sites dotting the shoreline, Greers Ferry Lake ensures that boaters have everything they need for a memorable outdoor adventure. This lake is a fusion of natural beauty, aquatic recreation, and an inviting atmosphere that beckons all to enjoy its charm.

Reasons to Boat in Greers Ferry Lake:

  • Fishing: The lake is renowned for its excellent fishing, with a variety of fish species like bass, crappie, and walleye.
  • Boating Infrastructure: Greers Ferry Lake has numerous marinas, boat ramps, and docks for easy access and convenience.
  • Hiking Trails: Besides boating, there are hiking trails nearby, such as Sugar Loaf Mountain, offering beautiful views of the lake.
  • Clean and Clear Water: The lake is known for its clear, clean water, making it great for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Quiet Coves: Boaters can explore the many quiet coves and inlets, providing peaceful and secluded spots for relaxation.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Cooler, Paddle, Sunglasses, Marine Radio, Waterproof Phone Case, Dry Box


Lake Hamilton

Within the city of Hot Springs, Lake Hamilton offers a unique boating experience with the added charm of easy access to the famous thermal springs and spa resorts. This lake boasts a lively boating scene with various restaurants and entertainment options along its shores, making it a hub of recreational and leisure activities. During special events, Lake Hamilton often hosts dazzling fireworks displays, adding an extra layer of excitement to your boating adventure. Whether you’re seeking fishing, relaxation, or entertainment, Lake Hamilton has it all.

Reasons to Boat in Lake Hamilton:

  • Hot Springs: Lake Hamilton is in the city of Hot Springs, offering boaters easy access to the famous thermal springs and spa resorts.
  • Recreation and Dining: The lake has a lively boating scene with various restaurants and entertainment options along the shore.
  • Fireworks Displays: During special events, Lake Hamilton often hosts dazzling fireworks displays, providing a unique boating experience.
  • Fishing: Anglers can enjoy fishing for a variety of fish species in the lake, including largemouth bass.
  • Scenic Drives: There are scenic drives around the lake, providing breathtaking views for those who want to combine boating with on-land exploration.

Recommended Gear: Compass, Anchor, Cooler, Rope, Tarp, Snacks, Sunscreen


Norfork Lake

Norfork Lake is a serene and well-loved destination for boaters, known for its excellent year-round fishing and a clear, inviting waterbody. It provides a canvas for various water sports like water skiing and tubing, and there are campsites along the shoreline for those who prefer camping. Surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, this lake offers spectacular natural beauty, creating an idyllic setting for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil escape on the water.

Reasons to Boat in Norfork Lake:

  • Excellent Fishing: Norfork Lake is known for its excellent year-round fishing, with a variety of fish, including trout, bass, and catfish.
  • Water Sports: Boaters can enjoy water sports like water skiing and tubing in the open waters of the lake.
  • Clean and Clear Water: The lake’s clear and clean water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Camping: There are campsites and parks along the lake’s edge for those who want to combine boating with camping.
  • Spectacular Scenery: Surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, Norfork Lake offers breathtaking natural beauty.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Sunscreen


Lake Dardanelle

Lake Dardanelle, a part of the Arkansas River, presents boaters with a unique opportunity to navigate the Arkansas River’s waterway while enjoying breathtaking scenic beauty. This river and lake combo offers a range of outdoor experiences, from birdwatching to fishing and hiking, ensuring that there’s something for every nature lover and adventure seeker. Explore the rich history and cultural heritage of the region, or simply revel in the calm and natural beauty of this waterway.

Reasons to Boat in Lake Dardanelle:

  • Navigation and Scenic Beauty: Lake Dardanelle is part of the Arkansas River and offers an extensive waterway for boaters to explore, with picturesque scenery.
  • Bird Watching: Bird enthusiasts can spot various waterfowl, eagles, and other wildlife in the area.
  • Fishing: The lake is known for its diverse fish species, including bass, catfish, and crappie, making it popular among anglers.
  • Visitor Centers: The Lake Dardanelle State Park visitor center provides educational opportunities and a place to rest after a day of boating.
  • Cultural Heritage: Boaters can explore the history and cultural heritage of the region, including Native American sites and historic structures.

Recommended Gear: Rope, Compass, Paddle, Cooler, Sunglasses, Snacks, Anchor


DeGray Lake

DeGray Lake offers a delightful combination of water recreation and natural beauty. Boaters can indulge in activities such as swimming, water skiing, and wakeboarding while surrounded by the scenic beauty of DeGray Lake Resort State Park. The lake is known for its fishing opportunities and the diverse fish species that call it home. With resorts and amenities available within the state park, visitors can extend their stay and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this charming lake.

Reasons to Boat in DeGray Lake:

  • Water Recreation: DeGray Lake offers various water-based activities, such as swimming, water skiing, and wakeboarding.
  • Scenic Views: The lake is surrounded by the scenic beauty of DeGray Lake Resort State Park, offering hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.
  • Fishing: Anglers can enjoy fishing for bass, catfish, and other species.
  • Resort Amenities: DeGray Lake Resort State Park offers lodging, dining, and other amenities for visitors who want to stay and boat.
  • Peaceful Environment: The lake is relatively tranquil, making it a peaceful destination for boaters seeking relaxation.

Recommended Gear: Anchor, Dry Box, Sunscreen, Marine Radio, Paddle , Compass, Rope


Millwood Lake

Millwood Lake is a hidden gem for those who appreciate wildlife and wetland ecosystems. Renowned for birdwatching and wildlife viewing, this lake is a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts. Its unique cypress trees and wetland areas create a distinctive boating experience, while the lake’s remote location adds to the sense of serenity. Boating here offers not only a chance to explore the pristine natural surroundings but also a unique opportunity to observe a diverse range of wildlife.

Reasons to Boat in Millwood Lake:

  • Wildlife Viewing: Millwood Lake is renowned for its birdwatching and wildlife viewing opportunities, with numerous bird species and alligators.
  • Fishing: Anglers come to Millwood Lake for bass, crappie, and catfish, enjoying the productive fishing waters.
  • Cypress Trees: The lake is known for its beautiful cypress trees and wetland areas, providing a unique boating experience.
  • Boating Access: There are multiple boat ramps and docks for easy access to the lake.
  • Serene Atmosphere: The lake’s remote location and natural beauty create a serene atmosphere for boaters.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Cooler, Paddle, Sunglasses, Marine Radio, Waterproof Phone Case, Dry Box


Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake, located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas, is a haven for those who seek adventure and a vast expanse of water to explore. As one of the largest lakes in the state, it offers an extensive playground for boating enthusiasts, whether you’re into water sports, fishing, or simply enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. The lake’s clear, expansive waters are ideal for thrilling activities such as water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing, ensuring an adrenaline-pumping experience for thrill-seekers. Anglers, too, are drawn to Bull Shoals Lake, where diverse fish species await their next catch. With numerous scenic coves and camping options along the shoreline, it provides the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation for boaters.

Reasons to Boat in Bull Shoals Lake::

  • Swimming Holes: Boaters can find natural swimming holes along the lake, perfect for cooling off on a hot day.
  • Camping Options: With campsites and parks along its banks, Bull Shoals Lake is ideal for extended boating trips with the option to camp by the water.
  • Vast Expanse: Bull Shoals Lake is one of the largest lakes in Arkansas, providing an extensive area for boating, water sports, and exploration.
  • Water Sports: The lake is known for its suitability for various water sports, such as water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing, offering thrills and excitement for adrenaline enthusiasts.
  • Scenic Coves: Boaters can find numerous scenic coves and inlets along the lake’s extensive shoreline, providing opportunities for secluded relaxation and picnicking.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Swim Bag


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