Picture Perfect Fall Getaways in Arkansas

Words & Images: courtesy Arkansas State Parks

Sep 1, 2022 | Life, Travel

Hop on a scenic road, kick up some golden leaves and make your way to a fresh-out-of-your-favorite-fall-movie getaway. Whether you prefer a cabin or a lodge, or camping underneath the stars, Arkansas State Parks has something for everyone. Book your stay now because fall is in season. We’re sharing lodging options, fall camping and activities and fall foliage details!

CABINS

Crowley’s Ridge State Park
The 1930s-built, stone-and-wood cabins scream Instagramable fall! Snuggle up near the fireplace in your coziest sweater with a cup of hot apple cider after a long leaf-peeping hike. Don’t forget to see the Wishing Well Flume Waterfall surrounded by red and orange foliage.

Lake Chicot State Park
The largest natural lake in Arkansas and the largest oxbow lake in North America’s waters will beckon you for an autumn stay. While you can choose a lake view, we recommend a woods-view lodging for the colorful leaf season. From your bedroom window, you’ll be able to spot sunflower-yellow leaves fluttering to the ground.

Village Creek State Park
Thirty-three miles of trails lead you to two lakes that reflect honey-colored trees in harvest-season glory. Book one of the luxurious cabins that feel more like a resort than your scouting-days campsites — think exposed-wooden-beam ceilings, flatscreen televisions, fireplaces, opulent linens and cozy couches. Pro-tip: Bring your horse because the equestrian trails are some of the best in the state.

Moro Bay State Park
Off-the-beaten-path is the first description that comes to mind when thinking of Moro Bay. These uber private cabins with screened decks (ideal for turkey dinners and early-morning coffee sipping) and access to year-round fishing are just perfect for family vacations. Leave the wood-walled interior of your lodgings to go spot bald eagles and insane pumpkin-spice season colors.

LODGES

DeGray Lake Resort State Park
Situated on the shores of DeGray Lake, just 72 miles from Little Rock, this is truly a resort. The 96-room dwelling can be a jumping-off point for sunset cruises, guided hikes, birding tours, fall color walks and more. Pro-tip: If it gets too cold outside, check out the on-site escape room for a brain-teasing riot of a time.

Mount Magazine State Park
|Pack your well-worn “Harry Potter” book and sit on a comfy, brown-leather couch next to a roaring fire in the massive gray-stone fireplace for the ultimate autumn night inside at The Lodge at Mount Magazine. This 60-room experience has a heated indoor swimming pool and offers jaw-dropping views of the Petit Jean River Valley.

Ozark Folk Center State Park
Open until late-October, this park celebrates music, crafts and the culture of the Ozarks. Your family can delight in pottery classes, strolls through the Heritage Herb Garden and live music on the Blacksmith Stage on your next getaway. Looking to get ahead on your holiday shopping? The Craft Village offers artisanal items like flame-painted jewelry, candles, pottery, stained glass and wood carvings. This area kind of feels like Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls” — there’s always something happenin’.

Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean Mountain inspired the creation of Arkansas’s first state park, and during reaping time, this park might inspire you to hike a bit longer, stay up a little later or eat a few more s’mores with your crew. The lodge’s big windows look out onto incredible mountain vistas, rich with fall colors. Be sure to snap a group photo on the stone Davies Bridge that overlooks a veil-like waterfall.

Queen Wilhelmina State Park
The second-highest peak in Arkansas beckons you with a fully renovated lodge that has in-room fireplaces for those long, sweater-weather nights where you just want to watch a good movie cuddled up. Grab a chair on the balcony for sunrise views over the valley swathed in garnets, burnt oranges and golds. Make sure you have breakfast at the Queen’s Restaurant to feel just like visitors in the 1800s felt when visiting the “Castle in the Sky.”

BACK TO NATURE

As bright mornings give way to chillier weather and the leaves start to turn to auburn, garnet, and gold, you’ll feel the pull to get outside. Whether you want to spend an entire weekend living around nature’s beauty or want to feel the thrill of speed as you race down a Monument Trail, Arkansas State Parks has something for everyone this autumn.

CAMPING

White Oak Lake State Park
Located in the southwestern part of the state, this park is nestled on the shores of White Oak Lake. Come fall, the trees turn beautiful shades of orange and red. Snap up one of the 45 campsites for a fishing (or birding) weekend of solitude.

Millwood State Park
Forty-five campsites mean you can have multiple days of epic fishing, just 35 minutes north of Texarkana. The 29,260-acre lake is home to largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie. Plus, the area is an Audubon-designated Important Bird Area, so you can spot 300 of The Natural State’s 400 on-record species.

Moro Bay State Park
This state park is a true getaway tucked into southern Arkansas. Twenty-three campsites can be your jumping-off point for autumn hikes, fishing, and boating. The area is also home to bald eagles, so bring your binoculars to try to spot these majestic birds.

Withrow Springs State Park
The banks of War Eagle Creek turn incredible shades of red, gold, orange, and green as fall makes its way through the park. With 39 campsites, this park is located 40 minutes east of Fayetteville, has three trails, a beautiful waterfall, and plenty of activity options for the whole family.

Lake Frierson State Park
Perched on the shores of the 335-acre Lake Frierson, the seven campsites are ideal for fishing for bream, catfish, crappie, saugeye, and bass. Or rent a pedal boat to explore the rustling trees that surround the lake. The best part? This oasis is just 15 minutes north of Jonesboro.

Cane Creek State Park
Forty minutes south of Pine Bluff, the Coastal Plains join the Mississippi Delta in forest-meets-lake splendor. Put up camp at one of the 29 sites and explore Bayou Bartholomew, the world’s longest. The rolling terrain provides excellent trail running, riding, and backpacking when the weather cools down.

HIKING TIPS
It is hiking season in Arkansas and that brings some unique and beautiful opportunities. With autumn colors gearing up to show off in jaw-dropping ways, it’s time to lace up your hiking boots and get out on a trail. Cross suspension bridges, climb to the top of ridges or find insane geologic wonders — all surrounded by fall foliage — on one of the many hikes available in Arkansas’s park system. Here are a few tips to help everyone have safe and fun adventures.

  1. Dress Appropriately
    Fall mornings can be very cool, but as the day progresses temperatures rise. If you grab a big parka in the morning you may find yourself carrying a hot heavy coat by the afternoon. Several thinner layers will make it easier to regulate your temperature out on the trail.
  2. Wear the Right Shoes
    While there are times and places for flip-flops, a rugged trail is not one of them. They are a real trip hazard, even on not-so-rugged terrain. A better option is some kind of high-top shoe or boot with good tread on its soles.
  3. Have a Plan for the Darkness
    Each passing day of fall will bring a little less daylight. Please keep this in mind before you hit the trails and make sure you line up enough time to complete your hike before sunset. Bring a headlamp or flashlight with you just in case as a safety precaution.
  4. Don’t Hike Alone
    It is one of the most consistently suggested hiking tips. And sharing your hiking adventure with friends or family is a great way to make lifetime memories.
  5. Stay on the Trail
    Fall is an important time for lots of animals, including snakes. Many reptiles will be getting ready to den up for the winter. This means it is important to stay on trails and out of restricted areas. By doing this, it will limit your exposure to den locations.

MOUNTAIN BIKING & MONUMENT TRAILS

Thunder down miles of singletrack, with fallen maple leaves whipping up behind you in the upcoming months. The cool weather means you can bike at pretty much any time of the day — just don’t forget your SPF or water bottle! Monument Trails are a collection of world-class shared-use trails crafted to show off the iconic beauty of the state through sustainable design. There’s no better time to ride them than in the harvest season when nature is showing off its best palette. Find options at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area, Mount Nebo State Park, Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and Devil’s Den State Park.

EXPERIENCE ARKANSAS’S FALL COLORS

Every autumn, nature paints the mountains and valleys of Arkansas State Parks with gorgeous hues of gold, red, and orange. Our state parks showcase autumn’s finest colors while allowing you to explore the state’s varied landscapes and even wildlife on a fun-filled road trip.

TRADITIONAL PEAK COLOR TIMES IN ARKANSAS

  • Northern Arkansas, Ozarks: Notable color change starts in late September or early October. Peak color is in late October.
  • Central Arkansas and West-Central Arkansas, Ouachita Mountain Range: Trees are changing noticeably by early to mid-October. Peak color is typically late October or early November.
  • Southern and Eastern Arkansas: Foliage usually begins changing during mid-October. Peak color is early to mid-November.

Arkansas’s autumn attractions aren’t just limited to beautiful fall foliage, camping, hiking, wildlife watching, and mountain biking! You’ll also find art and history attractions and fun, family-oriented fall festivals and events all over the state. Whether you plan to stay for a night or a week, fall foliage vacations and adventures in Arkansas’s state parks have a lot to offer.

Visit ArkansasStateParks.com for details and to book your next Arkansas getaway!

Do South Magazine

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