7 Best Free Camping Spots in Arkansas
Arkansas is an outdoor-lovers dream. Crystal clear rivers, large mountain lakes, and more miles of hiking trails than is even fathomable. Arkansas has some great free camping options, too!
Arkansas is known as The Natural State, and if you’re looking for nature, you’ll get your fair share of it. The state certainly has a lot to offer, from sprawling river valleys to the hills and hollows of the Ozark Mountains.
What to Know About Free Camping in Arkansas
Free camping is simply camping … that’s free! Free camping is also known as boondocking. So, what exactly is boondocking?
Boondocking is camping, typically for free, in remote areas that have been designated for use as “dispersed camping.” You’ll have no facilities or amenities when boondocking. In other words, you won’t have electric or sewer hookups, no fresh water, no bathrooms, and no dumpsters!
When free camping in Arkansas or anywhere, it’s essential to be a “self-contained” camper. With this in mind, you need to have everything you need to take care of yourself and your waste without standard campground amenities.
Lastly, practice the “leave no trace” principles. Never dump your tanks or trash in any free camping site. Take it with you to an approved dump station or trash dumpster. Also, don’t take anything or alter the landscape or camp in unused areas. And, finally, leave the area better than you found it.
Tips for Free Camping in Arkansas
Boondocking is a way of camping that does require some practice to figure out what you like the best. For example, learning to conserve water and waste takes time! So, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your free camping trip.
You’ve found the perfect boondocking spot. Then you read reviews online and are ready to head out. Not so fast! Always verify access before you head out to a free camping spot. Verifying access specifically means ensuring you can safely get yourself (and your rig) to a campsite in the wilderness.
If you have a tow vehicle, it’s best to scout the road ahead of time. For instance, you may drive down a dirt road only to find out it’s impassable with nowhere to turn around. Or, you might find all the campsites are full! You don’t want to get stuck in either case.
Have a Backup Plan
As previously stated, sometimes a campsite will be inaccessible or full. It’s important to have more than one boondocking site picked out, so you’re not left scrambling at the last minute.
Essential Arkansas Free Camping Accessories
There are a few things you need to have for a successful boondocking trip. These accessories aren’t required, but they will make your life easier.
Generator: You need a power source. For many new boondockers, a generator is certainly perfect for recharging your RV batteries and appliances.
Solar Panels: Solar panels can change the game when you’re free camping. In fact, solar panels can eliminate the need for a noisy, gas-guzzling generator.
Cell Booster: A cell phone booster heightens the existing cell signal. Boondocking often takes you to remote places with bad cell service. Surely, that’s not great for staying in touch or getting work done! A cell booster can help you with this.
First Aid Kit: Everyone needs a first aid kit, whether camping in a campground or boondocking. Be sure your first aid kit is well supplied.
The Best Free Campsites in Arkansas
Arkansas might not be the first place you think of for free camping. But, there are some beautiful places in the Natural State to set up camp … for free! Here are some of the best ones.
#1 – County Road 122 Dispersed Camping
GPS: 34.836070, -91.548856
About the Campsite: This dispersed free camping area is along a county road in the Mike Freeze Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area near Hazen, Arkansas.
County Road 122 camping is primarily used as a hunting area. It has many well-marked campsites. However, there are no hookups or amenities here.
Reported Cell Service: Cell signal has been reported as decent on all major cell phone carriers.
Arkansas Free Camping Vibes: 7/10. This is a good site for an overnight stop, and nearby Little Rock provides excellent options for supplies.
#2 – Dagmar WMA Dispersed #4
GPS: 34.866201, -91.319105
About the Campsite: Dagmar Wildlife Management Area is another WMA not far from the County Road 122 campsite above. This camping spot is on a river and has loads of wildlife running through it.
The campsites are large enough for big rigs, and they’re on a loop, so turning around isn’t necessary. But even so, there are no amenities at Dagmar WMA.
Reported Cell Service: Cell service is reported as decent for Verizon.
Arkansas Free Camping Vibes: 7.5/10. A river and abundant wildlife make this a dream location.
#3 – Crystal Campground
GPS: 34.4796, -93.6389
About the Campsite: Crystal Campground is a beautiful free campground in the Ouachita National Forest area in eastern Arkansas. The campground is on the water and has vault toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, and trash receptacles.
However, size restrictions on the National Forest Service website say Crystal Campground is best for small RVs and travel trailers. The water is excellent for swimming, and in fact, you can even find Arkansas quartz crystals on the ground here.
Reported Cell Service: There’s no cell phone signal at this campground.
Arkansas Free Camping Vibes: 8/10. This is a beautiful, quiet and secluded campground.
#4 – Erbie Campground
GPS: 36.070692, -93.213276
About the Campsite: Erbie Campground contains dozens of secluded sites along the Buffalo National River near Jasper, Arkansas. This campground has vault toilets, water access, fire rings, picnic tables, and large group sites.
The road leading into Erbie Campground is six miles long and very rough. Therefore, driving slow is a must. The sites can accommodate rigs of various sizes, and the campground usually has several spots available due to its remote location.
Reported Cell Service: There is no cell phone service at Erbie Campground.
Arkansas Free Camping Vibes: 9/10. Beautiful river, beautiful campground.
#5 – Sam’s Throne Recreation Area
GPS: 35.879031, -93.045108
About the Campsite: Sam’s Throne recreation area is a small campground near a popular climbing and hiking spot in northwest Arkansas called … Sam’s Throne. This campground has no amenities and isn’t suitable for rigs much larger than a Class B RV. The road is a highway but with many hairpin turns that make it difficult or impossible for larger RVs.
Sam’s Throne climbing spot and hiking trails are beautiful and best explored in the late fall or early spring due to ticks and overgrowth.
Reported Cell Service: There’s no cell phone signal at Sam’s Throne.
Arkansas Free Camping Vibes: 8/10. Best for small rigs and tent campers and the view at the cliff is unbeatable.
#6 – Brock Creek Campground
GPS: 35.490000, -92.808000
About the Campsite: This is a free primitive campground in the Ozark National Forest near a 35-mile lake called Brock Creek Lake. The campground has designated sites with fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets.
Brock Creek is best for tent campers or campers in a Class B RV or smaller because the road is winding, and the campground is small.
Reported Cell Service: There is little to no cell signal at Brock Creek campground.
Arkansas Free Camping Vibes: 8/10. Ozark National Forest Camping is magical!
#7 – Cedar Fourche Campground
GPS: 34.663000, -93.286000
About the Campsite: Cedar Fourche campground is a free campground near Jessieville, Arkansas, managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It sits on a branch of Lake Ouachita, a beautiful sprawling lake near Hot Springs, Arkansas. Cedar Fourche has free hot showers, bathrooms, and a boat ramp.
The campground is suitable for big rigs, and the road is easily accessible. It’s certainly a great campsite for staying on the lake or near the town of Hot Springs.
Reported Cell Service: There is no cell signal reported at this campground.
Arkansas Free Camping Vibes: 8/10. Free showers and proximity to Hot Springs make this a deal!
Take Advantage of What Arkansas Has to Offer
If you’re planning a trip to Arkansas, be sure to take advantage of some of its free camping options. You’ll get to camp for free and also see some of the most beautiful and rugged locations The Natural State has to offer.
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