Lake Dardanelle State Park
FISHING! That's the key word at Lake Dardanelle State Park. It's a large reservoir at 34,300 acres of lake surface, but also the facilities make it ideal for fishing. It has a giant pavilion built for large fishing tournament weigh-ins and several fishing piers. The park hosts several tournaments each year. This year there are a couple big tournaments you can go watch. The FLW Pro Circuit will be there May 14-17. Then the Cabela's/Bass Pro Big Bass Tour will be at Lake Dardanelle State Park May 29-31. Go take your kiddos to watch the weigh-ins, it's a lot of fun to see! There are two boat ramps at this state park (free to use). The north one is a single launch, but the south boat ramp by the fishing tournament pavilion is a six lane launch!
It surprised me how much Huxley liked this park. He loves to spend time at the lake and he loves to fish, so it makes sense. Inside of the visitor center are several really large fish tanks. Overall the inside feel of the visitor center is like going to an aquarium! He really liked seeing the alligator gar, it looks prehistoric!
One portion of the exhibit includes an open tank for turtles where you can get hands on with them, always fun for kids!
Displays inside the visitor center also include information about animals (with sounds) in a kids corner, as well as local geology and the Arkansas River.
And BEES! This is SUCH a good idea for an exhibit. As bee populations decline, educating people about their importance in our ecosystem is awesome. Bees pollinate our food crops, provide honey, and so much more! AND the honeybee is our Arkansas State Insect! More information on honey bees from National Geographic Kids!
The other thing that Huxley liked about Lake Dardanelle State Park was the playground (he gave it two thumbs up in his rating system).
The rock breakwater or jetty was a great place for a picnic. There are several benches 3/4 of the way down and at the end. This walkway really gets you way out on the Arkansas River/Lake Dardanelle and gives you a good vantage point for the scale of how big this lake really is.
I should point out that this park is actually split into two different areas. We spent our time in the "Russellville Area" and it's the main area, but their is also another smaller "Dardanelle Area" on the south side of the lake. Check out this map for more information. You can book campsites in either area. A boat ramp, playground, and similar facilities exist in the south "Dardanelle Area", just on a smaller scale. It was foggy during this visit and Huxley, like many other kids, thought the reactor at Arkansas Nuclear One was a "cloud maker"!
It started raining on us for the visit to Lake Dardanelle State Park, but we were prepared. I had checked the weather and invested in some good rain jackets for us both. I'd recommend doing the same as you start preparing for any park visit. Don't let the weather keep you stuck indoors!
While there are several trails in Lake Dardanelle State Park (like Meadowbrook), a larger trail system exists in Russellville. There are excellent mountain bike trails (Old Post and Ouita Coal), but also some longer hiking trails in an area named Bona Dea. If you have time, go check these other trails out.
Lake Dardanelle State Park is also the location for a marker along the Trail of Tears water route. You can find more information about the water route, as well as other routes along the Trail of Tears here.
This park, like many other Arkansas State Parks are gearing up for Spring Break! Warmer weather is coming and the list of events and activitites at each park will start to increase. Many parks are creating additional programming for kids during Spring Break (like night hikes, themed walks, bird walks, canoe and kayak demos, lake cruises, and more!). Go to each parks event page to find out what is offered near you. Check out Lake Dardanelle State Park's events here.
More info for Lake Dardanelle State Park at: