With over 600,000 acres of lakes and nearly 10,000 miles of streams and rivers, you might expect Arkansas would have some great spots for you to enjoy. At once home to Johnny Cash and Bill Clinton, the state has attracted other notable figures to its waters including Franklin D Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and Al Capone.
The diamond is the official state gem, and you can still prospect in the aptly named Crate of Diamonds State Park. Whether you are searching for sparkling gems, enjoying the state and national parks, or visiting The Folk Capital of America, be sure to check out a swimming hole or two on your way.
Lets have a look at the 15 best Swimming Holes in Arkansas:
1. Lake Bennett, Woody Hollow State Park, AR
Woody Hollow State Park is home to the 40 acre Lake Bennett which provides a stunning location for many water based activities. The lake itself was created by Dr. Hugh H. Bennet to study water run-off, silt, and erosion which means the spacious beach is manmade too, but this will hardly spoil your enjoyment of the surroundings.
Located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, the lake not only provides safe swimming with lifeguards but to help you explore more of the lake there are paddle boats, fishing boats, kayaks and canoes available too.
2. Caddo Bend, DeGray Lake, AR
The DeGray Lake Resort provides every amenity for those staying to enjoy the park with a range of outdoor activities to ensure you get the most out of your stay. As a day visitor, you can enjoy the lake in the Caddo Bend Area.
DeGray Lake is one of the five diamond lakes in Arkansas and known for its crystal clear waters. Touted as the best beach in Arkansas, this spot is perfect for cooling down. Trees shade picnic benches, and a safe swimming zone is provided but do note that there are no lifeguards here.
3. Blanchard Springs, Mountain View, AR.
Blanchard Springs Recreational area is well worth a visit and can be coupled with a tour of the Blanchard Springs Cavern.
The water is fresh and clear year around, and the spring water has created pools and a waterfall as well as the glorious waterway that winds its way passed rock bluffs and under a shady yellow pine tree canopy.
Mirror Lake is a well-stocked trout lake; leave your fisher folk there while you explore along the paved trail to find your slice of waterside real estate from which to enjoy cooling off in the North Sylamore Creek.
4. Lake Sylvia, Perryville, AR.
Scenic pine and the oak clad Ouachita Mountains provide the backdrop for Lake Sylvia which is part of the Ouachita National Forest.
This 18-acre lake lies just a few minutes from Little Rock and offers great swimming and a small beach area.
For those that like to make a splash, there’s a structure to jump off too.
Over 30 picnic tables and grills are available for use, and the park security does an excellent job of maintaining a family friendly feel.
If you like to explore and learn a little too, there are two easy trails with interpretive signs to help you identify the surrounding flora and fauna.
The Trees of the Forest Trail is wheelchair user accessible, and each trail has signs in Braille too.
5. Lake Wedington, Fayetteville, AR.
Conveniently located 13 miles west of Fayetteville, this 102-acre lake provides for fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and swimming.
This is another lake made by the Soil Conservation service; today the Forest Service manages it.
The park is pristine and home to a variety of wildlife.
The area is lush and peaceful offering that classic yesteryear swimming hole vibe that evokes summers passed.
It’s uncrowded and is the perfect location to kick back and relax and enjoy being nowhere in particular.
Six cabins dating back to the 1930s have been lovingly restored and modernised providing one of the many overnight options available.
6. Crowley’s Ridge, Jonesboro, AR.
Named for the family who first settled in the area, Crowley Ridge State Park has both a 31-acre fishing lake and a 3 ½ acre swimming lake.
Kayaks, pedal boats, and fishing boats are all available for hire.
Two swing bridges add a slice of adventure to this area which is replete with picnic tables for you to enjoy a day out in peace.
7. Buffalo Point, Yellville, AK.
Buffalo Point lies on the Buffalo National River which is free-flowing, running 135 miles without obstruction, so do be aware of current when swimming if the water is high.
The areas has a rugged natural beauty and nature has provided large slabs which are used as launch pads and for basking in the sun.
Underfoot it’s a little rocky so do wear water shoes for comfort.
Don’t leave this area without taking the easy hike to Indian Rock House Cave.
8. Greers Ferry Lake, Heber Springs, AK.
Greers Ferry Lake is some 40,000 acres and lies at the foothills of the Ozarks.
The completion of the Greers Ferry Dam in the 1960s created this huge water playground.
The area is clean and unspoiled, and the waters are crystal clear.
There are a number of swimming beaches along the 460 miles of shoreline and some great opportunities to jump off the rocks and make a big splash.
Ample space means swimmers, boaters, water-skiers, sailors and many other water lovers have adequate space to enjoy the water safely.
The area can get quite busy at weekends and holiday times if you want to revel in the peace, go midweek.
9. Kings River Falls, Witter, AR.
Kings River Falls scenery is idyllic.
The trail is an easy 2 mile round trip with your reward being the falls that lie at the end.
The low, 10ft, falls cascade into the rocky bottomed river and provide a great place to play and splash.
Swimming is best a little further downstream but do be aware that there are no lifeguards.
The area gets busy at weekends and can get a little rowdy too, if that’s not your scene, go early or mid-week to enjoy the beautiful peace of the area.
10. Tanyard Creek, Bella Vista, AR.
The Tanyard Creek Trail was built and maintained by volunteers.
The trail has it all and even features information on what you are seeing.
The 2-mile loop is easy and suitable for all and passes along a creek, through the woods, over a wooden bridge which kids will love, and of course, there are the falls.
This is a lovely location to enjoy splashing in the water and playing in the falls.
It can get busier at weekends but is not usually overcrowded.
11. White River, Fayetteville, AR.
Like many of the Ozark streams, the west fork of the White River can be furious during times of wet weather but calm in dry periods.
The upper river has plenty of access points and provides a series of pools and shoals bordered by overhanging trees with plenty of space for relaxing.
Access is south of Fayetteville along Highway 71 near Winslow.
12. Little Missouri Falls, Glenwood, AR.
The Little Missouri Falls in the Ouachita National Forest provides a great natural water playground.
The water cascades down a series of low falls in a stair-like fashion creating a picturesque location for splashing and cooling off.
The rolling hills and old wood forest create a scenic backdrop for this summer haven.
There are many hikes in the area, but you can reach the falls along a gravel road.
You will find parking, restrooms and a paved path to the falls and observation sites too.
13. Mulberry River, AR.
The Mulberry River is a very popular spot for canoeists, but once the river has calmed swimmers, splashers and paddlers can have their turn at enjoying the many spots available.
Check out Bluff Hole near Fort Smith, Mill Creek, Redding Camp Ground or the swinging bridge near Ozark.
Even better, ask someone local where they go to enjoy this 70-mile long waterway and discover a stretch just for you.
14. Lake Ouachita, AR.
Formed by the damming of the Ouachita River, this reservoir is the largest lake in Arkansas and almost entirely surrounded by the natural scenic beauty of the Ouachita National Forest.
With over 970 miles of pristine coastline, you are bound to find somewhere to drop your towel and picnic basket.
Crystal Springs Beach is a favorite spot.
The lake is so clean that you will find the rare (non-stinging) freshwater jellyfish and freshwater shrimp as well as many varieties of fish – so don’t forget your mask and snorkel.
This 40-mile long lake attracts every kind of water enthusiast including boaters, scuba divers, anglers, canoeist and sailors meaning there’s plenty to do when you tire of lazing.
15. Twin Falls of Richland, Ozark Forest, AR.
As the name might suggest, there are two falls here but interestingly two different creeks feed them, and their waters blend below forming a lovely swim hole.
The falls are 17ft and 19ft high, and the area is shaded by trees to create an idyllic forest oasis.
It’s a hike to get there; the easiest trail leads from Richland Creek Campground.
There are many swim holes hidden here so do take some time to explore.