Looking for a place to kick back and fun? Southwest Arkansas, with its lakes, forests, resorts, parks and museums, is the place.
Hot Springs, among the finest resorts in the United States, is perched east of the Ouachita National Forest, the first national forest in the country. Arkadelphia is home to two universities, and Texarkana straddles the Texas-Arkansas state line.
Here’s a glance at what there is to see and do:
• Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area — Long known for its vicious, jagged rocks that have eaten more than one canoeist and kayaker, the Cossatot River also is surrounded by beautiful terrain. Primitive campsites. South of Mena. Call (870) 385-2201.
• Crater of Diamonds State Park — The only public diamond mine in the world. You keep the diamonds you find. Visitor center exhibits reveal the story of Arkansas’ diamonds. Camping, picnic sites, trail and gift shop. Near Murfreesboro. Call (870) 285-3113.
• Daisy State Park — Water is the key word. Daisy is a perfect camping spot for activities on the Little Missouri River and Lake Greeson. Call (870) 398-4487.
• DeGray Lake Resort State Park — A 96-room lodge is the choice for many meetings and gatherings. There’s also fishing and sailing on the lake, golf and tennis. South of Hot Springs. Call (501) 865-2801.
• Hot Springs Mountain Tower — Ride or climb to the top of this 216-foot tower and enjoy the spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains. Call (501) 623-6035.
• Hot Springs National Park — Arkansas’ only National Park. Noted for its thermal springs, bathhouses, hiking trails and summer interpretive programs. Call (501) 624-3383.
• Lake Catherine State Park — Beautiful lake near Hot Springs. The park also offers cabins, 70 campsites, picnic areas, trails and playgrounds. Call (501) 844-4176.