Activities

Recreational opportunities are superb. Our area boasts a couple of the hottest fishing lakes in Arkansas. Plus, Village Creek State Park, Arkansas' largest, is only a 15 minute drive along Highway 284. On the one hand, there is a friendly small town atmosphere and a low cost of living you will find easy on your budget. On the other hand, the locale offers easy access larger cities nearby such as Memphis, Tennessee and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Parks and Byways

Village Creek State Park

To contact the park: 870-238-9406

Here you can explore the unique geology, topography, and unusual plant communities of Crowley's Ridge, a landform of rolling hills in eastern Arkansas's Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Crowley's Ridge is a geologic anomaly, the most unusual of Arkansas's six major physiographic provinces, or natural divisions. It is covered with a lush, mixed hardwood forest including oak and hickory and uncommon hardwood trees such as American Beech, Sugar Maple, Butternut, Basswood, Cucumbertree, Kentucky Coffeetree, and the Tuliptree or Yellow Poplar. Village Creek State Park is one of five Arkansas state parks located on Crowley's Ridge. At 6,911 acres, Village Creek is Arkansas's largest state park in acreage.

Park interpretive programs and exhibits share the story of the natural and cultural heritage of Crowley's Ridge. Five park trails totaling seven miles allow hikers the opportunity to explore this forest on their own, or on a guided trail walk with a park interpreter. Anglers can fish for bass, bream, catfish, and crappie at the park's two lakes, Lake Austell and Lake Dunn. Launch ramps, boat docks, bait, fishing boats, electric motors, and pedal boats are available late-spring through Labor Day.

The park campground includes 96 campsites [24 Class AAA, five Class A, and 67 Class B sites (for RVs, tents, and horse campers)] around Lake Dunn. Nestled on a nearby ridge are the park's 10 fully-equipped cabins that feature kitchens and wood-burning fireplaces. At Lake Austell, picnic sites are situated near a sandy beach and sun deck. The park also includes four standard pavilions (one is enclosed), playgrounds, baseball and multi-use fields, and a driving range.

Horseback riding is a popular activity at this park. Twenty-five miles of multi-use trails wind through the rolling hills and unique hardwood forest of Crowley's Ridge. The horse trails are open throughout the year. Call the park for current trail conditions. The horse camp features 30 campsites with water and electric hookups, an asphalt parking pad, picnic table and grill; a modern bathhouse; horse wash bays; and 66 stalls inside the camping area. The horse stable's 10' x 10' stalls include water, electric, and ceiling fans.

The park visitor center includes an A/V theater, store, gift shop, and bicycle rentals. The interpretive center offers a large meeting facility and The Discovery Room featuring exhibits of prehistoric artifacts and information about the wildlife of Crowley's Ridge. Park interpreters offer programs, concerts, and special events throughout the year.

NOTE: The Ridges at Village Creek, the 27-hole, public golf course at Village Creek State Park closed temporarily beginning June 7, 2010, to allow for a year-long upgrade and grow-in. The course will reopen in May 2012 offering 18 holes. The last nine holes will open in summer. Featuring the rolling terrain of Crowley's Ridge, this beautiful and challenging course was designed by Andy Dye Designs of Sarasota, Florida . Since 1923, the Dye family designs of resort and public courses has included world-ranked championship-class courses including 17 of the world's top 100 courses. Dye designs have a worldwide reputation for their creative, unique designs, and environmentally sensitive integrity. For updates on the scheduled reopening date, contact the park. To read more about the golf course's temporary closure, visit: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/news/for-media/display.aspx?id=1497 .
Village Creek State Park is located two hours east of Little Rock, Arkansas, or one hour west of Memphis, Tennessee. Take Exit #242 off I-40 at Forrest City and travel 13 miles north on Ark. 284 to the park. Contact Information 201 County Road 754
Wynne, AR 72396 Email: villagecreek@arkansas.com To reach the park office or make campsite reservations call 870-238-9406.

Crowley's Ridge

Crowley's Ridge Parkway - One of America's National Scenic Byways

Eastern Arkansas lies within the nation's largest alluvial plain, a vast flatland leveled over eons by the erosive floods, depositions of silt and course changes of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Contained within the Delta's level expanse, Crowley's Ridge rises as much as 200 feet above the surrounding terrain. It was formed when the ancestral Mississippi and Ohio rivers eroded away the land on each side and deposits of wind-blown soils added height to the remnant ridge. A magnet for human settlement, the ridge was named after Benjamin Crowley, who moved there in 1800 to escape flooding in the Delta lowlands.

Today, Crowleys Ridge is characterized by upland hardwood forests, farmland, orchards and a variety of recreational and historical resources. Four state parks lie along the parkway, which passes through the St. Francis National Forest and makes for one of the most scenic motorcycle rides in the state. Arkansas's portion of the Crowley's Ridge Parkway was designated one of Arkansas's scenic highways and byways in 1997 and became one of America's national scenic byway in 1998.

The Route

LENGTH: 198 miles

MAPS:
Arkansas Section
Interactive Attractions Map

THINGS TO KNOW:

The major towns on the byway are Piggott, Paragould, Jonesboro, Wynne, Forrest City, Marianna, West Helena and Helena. Lodging, dining and shopping opportunities in those and other communities can be researched using the links in the "Major Area Attractions" section below or by means of an interactive map at www.deltabyways.com. Camping is available at sites within the St. Francis National Forest. Arkansas state parks camping is available at Lake Frierson and Lake Poinsett state parks, while camping and cabins are available at Crowley's Ridge and Village Creek state parks.

Two areas of cultural interest not found on other scenic highways and byways are Native Americans and blues music. The legacy of Arkansas's largest concentrations of Native Americans can be explored at the Arkansas State University Museum and Parkin Archeological State Park. Arkansas's role in the development of blues music can be explored in interactive and audio exhibits at the Delta Cultural Center.

MAJOR AREA ATTRACTIONS:
Chalk Bluff Battlefield Park
Crowley's Ridge State Park
Delta Cultural Center
Forrest City
Helena
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center
Jonesboro
Lake Frierson State Park
Lake Poinsett State Park
Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park
Marianna
Parker Pioneer Homestead
Parkin Archeological State Park
Paragould
Piggott
Southland Greyhound Park
St. Francis National Forest
Village Creek State Park
West Helena
West Memphis
Wynne

REGIONAL TOURISM INFORMATION:
Arkansas Delta Byways

Parkin Archeological State Park

To contact the park: 870-755-2500

Parkin Archeological State Park in eastern Arkansas at Parkin preserves and interprets the Parkin site on the St. Francis River where a 17-acre Mississippi Period, American Indian village was located from A.D. 1000 to 1550. A large platform mound on the river bank remains. The site is important for understanding the history and prehistory of northeast Arkansas. There were once many archeological sites similar to Parkin throughout this region, but they did not survive as eastern Arkansas was settled.

Many scholars believe the Parkin site is the American Indian village of Casqui visited by the expedition of Hernando de Soto in 1541, and written about in his chronicles.

Arkansas State Parks and the Arkansas Archeological Survey manage this National Historic Landmark. In conjunction with the founding of the state park, a research station was established at Parkin by the Arkansas Archeological Survey. Station archeologists conduct research at the site that provides visitors with a unique opportunity to see how we learn about prehistory. Visitors can watch research in progress, and see firsthand the results of careful excavations and laboratory analysis.

Along with including an archeological research laboratory, the park visitor center includes an interpretive exhibit area, auditorium, and gift shop. A picnic area, playground, and standard pavilion (enclosed) are located nearby.

The park interpretive staff offers audiovisual programs, site tours, workshops, and other educational programs, and special events, and activities. When archeological excavations are underway, visitors on guided tours can observe them.

Visitors experiencing Parkin Archeological State Park can also tour the circa 1910 Northern Ohio Schoolhouse. By the beginning of World War II, there were 15 one-room and two-room schoolhouses providing education for children in Parkin, a town of less than 2,000 citizens. Today, the Northern Ohio School is the only one of these early Parkin structures still standing. The stories it tells of what took place here in the early 20th century in and around the Sawdust Hill community are compelling parts of the historic fabric of Parkin, just as is the park's interpretation of the prehistoric village of Casqui is, too.

As the 20th century dawned and northern timberlands were depleted, timber buyers looked to the dense forests in the South. In March 1902, S.W. Sterling, a timber buyer for a firm in Grafton, Ohio, was buying timber in Missouri when he heard about the fine timber at Parkin, Arkansas. Sterling bought a mill located just south of the American Indian mound here. Between 1902 and 1904, Henry Coldren moved his Grafton, Ohio, lumber company to Parkin. In 1906, Sterling and Coldren merged their two companies and established the Northern Ohio Cooperage and Lumber Company. The mill provided work for many people during a time when there were few jobs other than agriculture. Sawmills depended on river and rails to ship finished lumber to growing markets in the North. At the turn of the 20th century, Parkin had river, rail, and vast uncut timberlands. Parkin was poised to take advantage of the timber boom. Around 1910, the Northern Ohio Cooperage and Lumber Company constructed a wood framed one-room schoolhouse for mill workers' children. Three-quarters of the sawmill workforce were black men. The school was built adjacent to the northern boundary of the prehistoric American Indian village site within easy walking distance of the mill community. The Northern Ohio School provided first through eighth grade educations for the children of the sawmill workers until all the Parkin area schools were consolidated into the Central Elementary School in 1948.

Parkin Archeological State Park is on the northern edge of Parkin at the junction of U.S. 64 and Ark. 184 north.

Museum and Archeological Site Self-Guided Walking Tour : Free

Archeological Site Guided Walking Tour

  • Adult: $3 each
  • Child (6-12): $2 each
  • Family: $10
Adult Group Rates (15 or more with advance notice): $.25 off above fees

Bona Fide School Groups (with advance notice): $2/person

Hours of Operation

  • Open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (Tuesday through Saturday); 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (Sunday)
  • Closed Monday (except Monday holidays), New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Eve through Christmas Day

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting and fishing are enjoyed year around. Deer, ducks, squirrel, turkey, doves, quail and rabbits are plentiful around the area. Excellent fishing lakes are within a few minutes drive in any direction.

Bear Creek Lake

2675 Ark. 44 Marianna, AR 72360 Phone: 870-295-4040

The 625-acre Bear Creek Lake was constructed atop Crowley's Ridge in east central Arkansas in 1938. It lies within the north end of the St. Francis National Forest , and two national scenic byways - the Great River Road and the Crowley's Ridge Parkway , pass nearby. This USDA Forest Service lake on Crowley's Ridge has more than 15 miles of shoreline, and this makes for an abundance of good fishing for big bluegill and redear when the fish are in shallow water on the spawning beds. Look for beds of spawning fish on the gradually sloping banks, particularly near points, and also in the backs of the wider (and therefore shallower) coves. The peak of spawning activity usually occurs during the new moon in April and again on the new moon in May.

Anglers visit the lake in search of its largemouth bass, bluegill, red-ear sunfish and blue and channel catfish. Abundant wildlife readily seen in the national forest includes whitetail deer, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, wild turkey and a wide variety of other birds.

The campground features 17 campsites [14 Class AAA with water/electric/sewer hookups and three Class D Walk-in Tent Sites]. Each paved site includes an adjacent, extended hardened living area with picnic table, grill, lantern hanger, and tent pad. A barrier-free bathhouse is centrally located. In a separate location on the lake, the park's Lone Pine Campground offers 14 Primitive RV/Tent Sites with no hookups and vault toilets nearby. The park also has picnic areas, a swim beach, boat ramp, and hiking trails.

Camping is paid through self-pay stations located at the campgrounds. Make reservations by calling the park office.

Storm Creek Lake Arkansas

2675 Ark. 44 Marianna, AR 72360 Phone: 870-295-5278

The 425-acre Storm Creek Lake was constructed atop Crowley's Ridge in east central Arkansas in 1938. It lies within the south end of the St. Francis National Forest , and two national scenic byways—the Great River Road and the Crowley's Ridge Parkway , pass nearby.

Fishing: The lake's sportfish include largemouth and hybrid striped bass, bluegill, red-ear sunfish, black crappie and blue and channel catfish. Abundant wildlife readily seen in the national forest includes whitetail deer, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, wild turkey and a wide variety of other birds.

Swimming, camping and hiking are available at the lake, as are 16 campsites open only from April through Labor Day weekend. A bathhouse with showers is located in the day-use area adjacent to the lake, which also has a barrier-free fishing pier.

White River National Wild Refuge

57 South CC Camp Road
St. Charles, AR 72140
E-mail: whiteriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 870-282-8200

White River NWR, was established in 1935 for the protection of migratory birds. The refuge lies in the floodplain of the White River near where it meets the mighty Mississippi River. White River NWR is one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi River Valley.

Approximately two-thirds of the bird species found in Arkansas can be seen at White River NWR. Many of these are neotropical migratory songbirds that use the refuge as a stopping point on their journey to and from Central and South America. Arriving in early autumn and usually peaking in late December, mallards along with gadwalls, American widgeon, and greenwing teal find their way along that highway in the sky- the Mississippi Flyway. During some years, up to 350,000 birds will winter in these flooded bottomland hardwood forests.

Consisting of over 160,000 acres of land actively managed, White River NWR has one of the largest management programs within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The management programs consist of wildlife, forestry, public use, and facilities, yet all are interrelated.

With over 95% of the refuge covered in forest, the success of achieving most Refuge objectives hinge on the effectiveness of forested habitat management. Forest thinning is conducted on the Refuge to restore or enhance optimum conditions for the range of wildlife that naturally occur in these type habitats. Water levels are managed on some areas with levees and water control structures. Wildlife populations are monitored through various surveys throughout the year and levels are managed with public hunts. A number of Universities conduct research on the Refuge to assist in filling information gaps.

Public Use is encouraged with fishing and hunting being the most popular activities. Wildlife observation and photography are also quite popular.

Being mostly floodplain, the nearly 100 (350) miles of gravel roads and about 1,000 miles of dirt roads, numerous levees, culverts, spillways and similar facilities require innovative design and periodic maintenance for reliable and safe use. Over 200 miles of boundary lines and an untold number of signs also require periodic maintenance.

Fishing is permitted year round on a large portions of the Refuge. Other areas are open to sport fishing from March 1 through November 30. Bayous, sloughs, oxbow lakes and the White River all provide a diversity of fishing habitats. Largemouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish are some of the common species of catch.

Portions of the Refuge are open to hunting of white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and other small game species. Permits and special regulations apply; Please contact refuge headquarters for specific information.

 


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