Best Boating Destinations in Arkansas  

Quick Navigation

Arkansas is home to a large number of massive, clean and scenic lakes. Surrounded by mountain ranges, state parks and inviting forests, Arkansas lakes offer premium outdoor experiences. From camping lakeside to fishing for trophy fish, there is an abundance of activities and accommodations to partake in. Many of the best lakes in Arkansas are ideal boating destinations. Whether kayaking, sailing, fishing or speed boating, there are lakes in Arkansas for you. 

If you're looking for inspiration or ideas for your next boating trip, consider the destinations on our list of best boating lakes in Arkansas! 

Lake Atalanta

After recently being restored, Lake Atalanta is a great boating destination for those looking to relax on the water. While boating is permitted on Lake Atalanta, motorized boats are restricted. Instead, this destination is ideal for kayaks, paddleboards, canoes or rowboats. Fishing is popular on Lake Atalanta, whether from one of the fishing piers or on a boat. In addition to paddling around the reservoir, explore the small creeks and natural springs that surround the lake. 

If you need a break from being on the water, the park surrounding Lake Atalanta offers a variety of other activities to enjoy. The lake serves as a trailhead for numerous hiking and biking trails. There are also several pavilions, restrooms, picnic areas and playground spaces, giving you ample opportunities to make the most of your day. 

Learn About Our Boat Loans

Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake is an immense reservoir of more than 28,000 acres of water. The sheer size of this lake means nearly endless areas to explore on a boat or by foot. Beaver Lake is known across the nation for fishing, even becoming a popular fishing tournament destination, especially among bass fishers. Other popular activities include boating, wakeboarding, tubing, waterskiing, kayaking, scuba diving and swimming. The lake even features boat launches and marinas to help visitors get on the water. 

Beaver Lake also offers a variety of recreational activities to enjoy off the water. Camping, hiking, picnicking and birdwatching let visitors explore the shorelines and surrounding forests. Whether you're boating or hiking, Beaver Lake has many things to offer, making it one of the best lakes in Arkansas.

Lake Wedington

Lake Wedington is often referred to as one of Arkansas' best-kept secrets when discussing recreational destinations. The 102-acre lake was created during the Depression, featuring since-refurbished campsites, restrooms and picnic areas. Motorized vessels are permitted on the water as long as they're under 10 horsepower or equipped with trolling motors. You can launch your boat at the launching ramp and store it in the boathouse for overnight stays. 

Lake Wedington also has designated swimming areas, playgrounds, horseshoe pits and volleyball courts open during warm months, plus a hiking trail open year-round. The lake is regularly stocked with fish, so you may catch bass, crappie, catfish or bream, among others. 

Lake Ouachita

With over 40,000 acres of beautiful, clear water, Lake Ouachita is Arkansas' largest lake. The sparkling clean water makes this destination one of the best lakes in Arkansas for swimming.

With over 40,000 acres of beautiful, clear water, Lake Ouachita is Arkansas' largest lake. The sparkling clean water makes this destination one of the best lakes in Arkansas for swimming. Boating is another primary activity on the water, as Lake Ouachita features a marina where you can rent motorboats and kayaks. The marina also sells bait and other supplies to equip you for a day on the lake. You may catch a variety of bass, crappie, bream or catfish in the various coves or on open waters.

Water activities like skiing, tubing and scuba diving are also popular activities here. After your time on the water, consider participating in one of the surrounding state park's programs like eagle cruises or guided hikes. There are numerous ways to enjoy Lake Ouachita during the day, and there are even overnight stay options. From cabins to RV and tent sites, there are accommodations to suit any visitor.

Lake Greeson

The U.S Army Corps of Engineers originally created Lake Greeson in the late 1940s as a project for hydropower and flood control. The lake is 12 miles long and is surrounded by nearly 16,000 acres of state parks and public land for hiking and recreational use. As a reservoir of the Little Missouri River, Lake Greeson is a popular boating and water sports destination. Try your hand at fishing on the lake or find a fishing guide service to help you locate a wide variety of game fish species. 

Lake Greeson features eight boat launches, allowing visitors to access any part of the lake with a personal vessel. This destination also features four marinas offering rentals, fuel and supplies. Two marinas also offer overnight accommodations for extended visits. Aside from marina cabins, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages 11 campgrounds around the lake with a variety of amenities like swimming areas, showers and RV hookups

Lake Hamilton

Lake Hamilton is among the most popular lakes in Arkansas. With public, residential and commercial spaces lining the shores, there's no shortage of things to do or see. Whether you're renting a lakeside property or visiting for the day, several marinas on Lake Hamilton provide boat launches and live bait. Fishing and boating activities are most popular on this lake. 

In addition to typical water activities, Lake Hamilton offers a unique scenic appeal and beautiful views like Garvan Woodland Gardens. These lakeside botanical gardens are a special attraction accessible by boat or road. Lake Hamilton also offers several swimming beaches, restaurants and other recreational attractions to help visitors make the most of their trip to the lake.

Norfork Lake

Norfork Lake is a great destination to enjoy water sports like water skiing, kneeboarding, swimming and tubing.

Surrounded by the Ozark Mountains, Norfork Lake offers scenic views and is renowned for its clear waters. The lake covers more than 22,000 acres, providing ample space for a variety of activities. Boating is most popular on the lake, as several commercial docks offer guides and other supplies for boating and related activities. 

Norfork Lake is a great destination to enjoy water sports like water skiing, kneeboarding, swimming and tubing. If you're interested in an extended visit, there are several camping parks and resorts with various accommodations and amenities.

Norfork Lake is one of the best boating destinations in Arkansas, especially for fishers. Fishing is extremely popular here, as it's home to a wide variety of game fish where the North Fork River feeds into the lake. Norfork Lake's striped bass fishery is among the best in Arkansas, and crappie, walleye and black bass are also abundant. You may even try your hand at night fishing.

Lake Chicot

If you're looking to go boating on a unique Arkansas lake, your destination should be Lake Chicot. What was once the Mississippi River's main channel has since become Arkansas' largest naturally made lake and North America's largest oxbow lake. You can launch personal vessels at the lake, and there is a marina with rentals available. The Lake Chicot State Park operates a campground, swimming pool, park store, park programs and other amenities.

Lake Chicot is most popular for its wildlife. Fishing and birdwatching are common activities here, with striped bass, bluegill, largemouth bass and crappie as some of the most frequently caught fish. Lake Chicot because the lake is located next to the Mississippi Flyway, one of the country's largest flyways. Birds fly over and flock to the lake and surrounding areas, making it an ideal destination for birdwatchers.

Lake Maumelle

Lake Maumelle is another unique lake, as it serves as the main water source for Central Arkansas. To protect the water, the lake is regulated — meaning there's no swimming permitted. Despite this, fishing and boating are still allowed and are popular due to the clear water. 

Fishing boats, kayaks, canoes and sailboats are permitted on the lake and launch from the boat ramp. Lake Maumelle also offers fishing supply rentals in case you left anything behind. The lake is known for hosting annual sailing regattas, drawing in many sailors and visitors. 

If you're looking for other activities off the lake, there are many trails and neighboring state parks surrounding Lake Maumelle, many with great views of the water. Lake Maumelle is also less than 15 miles from the town of Little Rock, which offers opportunities for exploring and sightseeing.

Greers Ferry Lake

Greers Ferry Lake.  This lake is also one of the cleanest, winning awards and serving as a model for environmental cleanliness across the nation.

Greers Ferry Lake is a hot vacation destination for Little Rock and surrounding areas. Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Greers Ferry Lake is one of the largest lakes in Arkansas, spanning more than 30,000 acres. This lake is also one of the cleanest, winning awards and serving as a model for environmental cleanliness across the nation. The Corps of Engineers operates various campgrounds and parks around the lake with a variety of commercial lodges, resorts, golf courses and restaurants for your convenience and enjoyment.

In terms of activities on the lake, boating, water sports and fishing are popular. From waterskiing to kneeboarding, visitors and locals enjoy a wide range of water sports on Greers Ferry Lake. You'll also find several swimming areas, boat launches, marinas and more. Explore the area off the water as well, like hiking Sugar Loaf Mountain for great views of the lake or venturing out to Sugar Loaf Island.

Lake Catherine

Lake Catherine is located near Hot Springs in the Ouachita Mountains. The south side of the lake is home to Lake Catherine State Park, where visitors can camp, launch personal vessels or rent a boat from the marina. Boaters can also stock up on fuel and fishing bait. Water sports and fishing are two of the most common water activities on Lake Catherine.

Lake Catherine State Park provides much to do off the water. Playgrounds, picnic areas and a pavilion make it a great spot to take a break from the water. The state park also features a trail that leads to a waterfall and programs like guided hikes and lake tours to explore the lake's history. If you're feeling especially adventurous, take one of the park's guided horseback rides, too!

Lake Dardanelle

Lake Dardanelle, a 34,000-acre reservoir, sits between the towns of Little Rock and Fort Smith. The lake is a popular getaway full of recreational opportunities, including boating and fishing. Whether participating in water sports or fishing on the water for catfish, bass, bream or crappie, you're sure to have a successful day. 

Lake Dardanelle State Park is a significant feature of the lake, offering swimming areas, a marina and a boat launch. The state park features campsites, lake tours and other programs. Lake Dardanelle State Park is a certified National Historic Site on the Trail of Tears. The visitor center in the park features exhibits and the story associated with the removal, as well as aquariums stocked with fish species found in the lake and the surrounding region. 

DeGray Lake

DeGray Lake is well-known for being the home to the Arkansas State Park Resort. The resort state park features numerous amenities and accommodations, including a lodge, campsites, a sports complex, a professional golf course and multi-use trails. The resort also offers a full-service marina and boat launch to let boaters access the lake in various ways.

Popular activities on DeGray Lake include boating, swimming, fishing and scuba diving. Bird watching is also popular, as bald eagles are common in the winter months. DeGray Lake also has a reputation for being a destination to catch big bass. If you're looking for a lake with high-class accommodations for your boating trip, DeGray Lake is one of the best.

Bull Shoals Lake

Bull Shoals Lake is among the largest in the state, boasting nearly 1,000 miles of shoreline. The water in Bull Shoals Lake is crystal clear, making it a popular boating, scuba diving, swimming, fishing and water sports destination. The lake hosts several yearly sport fishing tournaments showcasing the trophy fish commonly pulled from the water. 

The surrounding Bull Shoals-White River State Park offers camping, a marina, a visitor center and more.

Lake Fort Smith

Lake Fort Smith is nearly 1,500 acres of picturesque water nestled between Ozark National Forest and Lake Fort Smith State Park. While you can't swim, stand-up paddleboard or ski this water supply, Lake Fort Smith State Park has you covered with a swimming pool and other amenities like picnic sites and group facilities. You can even camp at the park, with camping sites and cabin rentals available.

Surrounding wilderness and mountain valley views make fishing here feel like you're miles from civilization. You can expect to catch walleye and several types of bass — including white, spotted and largemouth varieties — but the lake's real draw is its crappie population. Local anglers say the crappie may fall on the smaller side of the scale, but the volume is enough to keep you coming back for more. While the state's 30-crappie daily limit is still in effect, successful anglers have no trouble snagging twice that number or more.

Visit These Arkansas Lakes

Visit These Arkansas Lakes This Summer. Apply now!

Arkansas boasts a wide range of scenic lakes ideal for boating. The best way to experience these destinations is with your own boat. At MyFinancing USA, we can help put you in a new speed boat or fishing boat so you can get out on the water this summer! 

We'll help you find the best boat loan programs for your needs and situation. Apply online for a boat loan and contact our loan specialists for more information!

Apply for a boat loan online today. Or, you can contact us for more information about our financing options. Let us help you enjoy the open waters!

Apply for Boat Loan

Additional Resources on Road Trips: