Lake Ouachita camping. Weekend camping trip to Crystal Springs campground on Lake Ouachita, Arkansas. Plus things to do in the area.
Lake Ouachita is in the west central area of Arkansas. With hiking trails, swimming and the town of Hot Springs, it’s the perfect weekend getaway that sits a little over two hours from the Little Rock area.
Of course that depends on the route you take and, in this post, we’ll talk about how to avoid Interstate 30 with a travel trailer, along with things to do in the area.
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We booked our family weekend getaway at Crystal Springs campground. This popular spot is on the south side of the lake and offers fun things to do for the entire family.
Lake Ouachita Camping
There are several campgrounds in the Lake Ouachita area that offer different amenities. These are just a few of them.
*Be sure to do your own research on amenities, roads, and campsites.
Campgrounds in the area
- Crystal Springs Campground
- Lake Ouachita State Park
- Brandy Mountain Campground
- Joplin Campground
- Tompkins Bend
- Denby Point
Crystal Springs Campground
Crystal Springs Campground sits on a river offshoot along the south side of Lake Ouachita. With over 640 miles of shoreline and 40,000 surface acres, being in a smaller section of the lake is a bit comforting when you’re camping as a family.
- Swimming area
- Water/ Electric hookups
- Fire pit
- Picnic tables
- BBQ area
This campground offers 68 campsites with 63 of them having electric and water hookups. Although a lot of the sites are a little close together, many of them offer their own shoreline access.
Site 41 Loop C
With this campground being so popular, we were lucky to find a spot on short notice. For our long weekend getaway we stayed in site 41 along loop C. Setting up in this site was a bit of a challenge since there is a slight slope and the tongue of the travel trailer needed to be at its lowest adjustment to be level.
But once we were set up, we could see just how perfect this little spot was. Several of the campsites along loop C and loop B have a view to the swim beach and playground. *Never leave your child unattended.
The fire pit overlooks the river and you can watch the busy boats as they come and go along the water. There isn’t much privacy between each campsite with the fire pits in clear view of one another. But with quiet, friendly neighbors, that may not be a problem.
Things to do in the area
- Scuba diving
- Crystal mines
- Nearby Hot Springs
Lake Ouachita State Park
Lake Ouachita State Park is located about 30 minutes away on the eastern side of the lake. There you’ll find hiking trails, swimming area, marina, picnic tables and visitors center with gift shop.
Lake Ouachita Vista Trail – LOVit
If you’re an experienced hiker, then you may enjoy the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail. This trail goes right by Crystal Springs Campground and is 19.5 miles (one way) long. Section 1 staring on the west side is easy to moderate. While section 2 is moderate too difficult.
Dig for Crystals
Although the state of Arkansas is the diamond state, it also has an abundance of crystals. Along the Ouachita Mountain region you’ll find areas to dig for your own crystals and road side shops and boutiques selling crystals and other gemstones.
These are just a few of them. Be sure to plan ahead and check individual websites for hours of operations and FAQ.
- Advant Mining Fisher Mountain Rock Shop and Public Dig
- Twin Creek Crystal Mine
- Avatar Crystal Mine
- Wegner Crystal Mines
- Ron Coleman Mining
Mid-America Science Museum
Located just a short drive from Lake Ouachita, is the Mid-America Science Museum. Explore their Dinotrek path or jump in the rope bowl at the Bob Wheeler Skywalk Exhibit.
More Family Activities
- Garvan Woodland Gardens
- Adventure Works – Canopy zip tour and aerial adventure
- Pirates Cove Adventure Golf
- Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
- Funtrackers Family Fun Park
Other Things In The Area
- Oaklawn Casino Racing Resort
- The Gangster Museum of America
- Maxwell Blade Theater of Magic and Comedy
To view a completely guide to family activities in the Hot Springs area, visit 19 Family Friendly things to do in Hot Springs.
How to avoid Interstate 30 from Little Rock
We had originally decided to avoid this area with all the construction going on along Interstate 30. A few exits below Bass Pro Shop, the construction barriers are so tight and you’re at the mercy of hoping that people make good driving decisions. The construction continues a bit past the route 70 exit and by then, you’re gripping the wheel with a white knuckle death grip.
But you can avoid this by taking the 530 Highway just below Little Rock. Take 530 to 167 to 270 west. This will avoid the construction zone and only adds about 35 minutes.
A long weekend just wasn’t enough when you’re talking about camping at beautiful Lake Ouachita. Although it’s nice to have an activity or two, just sitting outside and watching the busy lake life while cooking over the grill, is more than enough.
So bring a book and some good food and dip your toes in the water along the shores of Lake Ouachita.
Best Wishes ~Sara
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