In the rugged terrain of the Ozark hills in Arkansas lies a hidden jewel to discover and experience. It’s a wonderful combination of an angler’s paradise, a boater’s dream, a breathtaking scenic drive, and amazing hiking trails to absolutely “live for.” Much of nature’s finest was definitely reserved for this location in Arkansas, our nation’s 25th state, which boasts a reputation as the Natural State.
Gosh, where do I start in describing this place! How about a little history about Bull Shoals Lake to get the ball rolling? The water that now forms the lake actually starts near Fayetteville as the White River. From there it flows north into Missouri and then meanders back down into Arkansas. Eight separate dams have been built on the waters of the White River, creating lakes such as Lake Taneycomo, Beaver Lake, and Bull Shoals.
The dam that formed Bull Shoals Lake was built in 1951 and created a reservoir covering more than 45,000 acres. The Bull Shoals – White River State Park sits at the southerly end of the lake near the dam.
Beckoning to anglers from its lake waters filled with crappie, lunker bass, and bream, the area also calls to the fisherman who wants to fill a frying pan with rainbow or brown trout from the chilly, clear waters of the White River.
Hiking trails are not a scarcity in the layout of the Bull Shoals – White River State Park. The two mile Bluebird Trail provides a wonderful walk from birdhouse to birdhouse where a person can witness the nesting and feeding behavior of eastern bluebirds who inhabit these dwellings in spring and summer. Along the Lakeside Trail, you are apt to see bald eagles soaring, even in wintertime. The Oakridge Mountain Bike Trail and various wildflower trails provide ample opportunity to exercise your legs as well as your vision.
If you happen to visit Bull Shoals – White River State Park during spring, summer, or fall, you can take advantage of a number of special opportunities and presentations that will enhance your stay. Choose from nature demonstrations, lake and river cruises, campfire stories, and trout fishing workshops, just to name a few. If you have children between the ages of 7 and 14, they will be able to earn certificates and badges through participation in the Park Explorer and Junior Naturalist programs.
Some special weekends to note are: (a) Troutfest Weekend in June, (b) Fall Frenzy Weekend in October, and (c) Eagle Awareness Weekend in January. For a listing of the complete park schedule, you can visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com/bullshoalswhiteriver.
Camping in the area is topnotch. Available accommodations include the opportunity to choose between bringing your tent or bringing your RV. But if you don’t have either of those, don’t let that stop you. This state park will let you “Rent-An-RV” or “Rent-A-Camp.” The tent comes supplied with cots, lanterns, an ice chest and a stove; and the RV is stocked with dishes and kitchen appliances. All you need to bring for that is your food and your bath and bed linens. Prepare yourself to “wake up in a fog” when you camp at White River State Park, as the cold water temperature of the White River creates a beauty to behold when the sun peeks through in the early morning hours.
The drive to and from the park would be enough reason to add this place to your “bucket list.” The roads you travel will allow you to experience neat little towns, winding mountain highways, an unlimited number of curio shops and flea markets, as well as friendly Arkansas craftsmen. If you can take the time, you really should plan to swing by Bull Shoals Caverns, if you happen to be in the area between mid-March and Thanksgiving weekend. Who can resist going underground to witness that kind of hidden beauty?
If you’d like to have more information about the many opportunities that abound in the area, contact the park for more details.
Bull Shoals – White River State Park
153 Dam Overlook Lane
Bull Shoals, Arkansas 72619