Last weekend, Colton and I loaded up Chuck and Lucy in Maeve (our 1978 Volkswagon Westfalia) and headed up to Hot Springs, Arkansas. In November, I shared what to expect your first time tent camping after my first experience tent camping. This trip was our first time camping in the camper and our first time camping with the dogs.
The camping grounds at Hot Springs was unimpressive, since it is a giant parking lot with hookups, so Colton and I searched Google for nearby sites.
Lake Ouachita State Park is the largest man made lake in Arkansas. It’s less than 20 miles from Hot Springs. Compared to the camp ground at Hot Springs, Lake Ouachita is an oasis. As a visitor, there are many water activities to enjoy during your stay.
There are 93 campsites, not including cabins that are available for rental. Colton and I arrived late on Friday, and we drove around to find the perfect spot. We found a secluded area to park Maeve, since winter isn’t a busy time for camping. It felt like we had the whole park to ourselves at times. Most of the sites are within 100 yards of water. Our site had a wooded area, and just beyond the trees was the water. At night, we heard the wind moving through the trees and the water.
Each one of the Class AAA sites have a dual-voltage electricity plug in and water hydrants with sewer hookups. Each site contains space for a camper and tent, so we used our tent as a storage area. Our Maeve doesn’t have a bathroom, but the bath houses have hot water and are close by. Not all sites are open year round, but the sites open in the winter are perfect.
Things to do
Despite the various “cell phone reception” locations around the lake, T-Mobile is a rebel and refuses to work. The good thing about being disconnected is that you find ways to entertain yourself other than playing on your cell phone.
One of my favorite parts of camping is cooking out. Typically, camping is planned around good weather, so you can enjoy cooking and eating meals outside.
For breakfast, my husband grills his famous pancakes and I grill the sausage links. Other breakfast ideas include oatmeal, breakfast skillets, egg burritos, and egg in a hole (or Magic Breakfast as Colton calls it). If you bring the right cookware and ingredients, you can make almost anything over a grill and campfire.
Breakfast isn’t complete without a little bubbly.
For lunch and dinner this trip, we just had beer brats and burgers. Other great ideas include grilled sandwiches, Frito chili pie, loaded baked potatoes, fajitas, quesdillias, soup and chili.
If you want to really enjoy camping, I suggest getting an Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) hammock. We bought these for our last trip, and fell in love with them. They are compact and can be set up virtually anywhere with trees. We set ours in the wooded area behind our campsite. I finished Talking as Fast as I Can while relaxing in the hammock. Then, I took a little nap and rocked in the breeze.
Hiking is the best part about camping, in my opinion. You get in a great workout, take in beautiful views, experience nature- mud, plants, bugs, birds, trees and all.
Lake Ouachita State Park has a 4 mile hiking trail, The Caddo Bend Trail, along the Point 50 Peninsula. There are several paths that lead down to the water and are the perfect spot to take a break, skip rocks, and have a picnic lunch.
The terrain on the Caddo Bend Trail is easy to follow and not full of obstacles. Non-experienced hikers will enjoy this hike. Experienced hikers will enjoy the views and the full length of the hike.
Not only is Lake Ouachita known as one of the cleanest lakes in America, the State Park also follows suit. The campgrounds were extremely well-kept, clean, and had tons of upgraded amenities. I am sure the park would be beautiful to visit in the summer, but I loved the quiet of the winter. If you are wanting to visit Hot Springs and camp out, I would recommend Lake Ouachita over any other park in the area.
Do you enjoy camping? Have you visited Lake Ouachita? Leave me a comment below!