Packed with rivers, lakes, and man-made reservoirs, Arkansas offers a variety of dog-friendly beaches. All of Arkansas’s state parks allow leashed dogs, and major urban areas often feature dog parks with rivers or ponds. Whether you’re taking a road trip through the South or spending a full week exploring the Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas has plenty to offer both you and your pet. Look for Arkansas vacation rentals nearby these beaches to serve as a home base for your adventures. These dog-friendly beaches are the perfect place for a quick dip or swim.
1. Lake Wilson Park, Fayetteville
Plan a fun afternoon for your pooch at Lake Wilson Park, which sits about 20 minutes south of Fayetteville. This large park is ideal for both people and pets; enjoy a long stroll through the woods on the nature trail, barbecue dinner in the picnic area, or head down to the lake for a dip. Best of all, the entire park is off-leash, so your dog can run free. A long trail – also an off-leash area – winds around the water, providing plenty of opportunities for your pet to hop into the lake to cool off. Although swimming is permitted in the reservoir, the water isn’t necessarily appealing for humans. The lake is a popular spot for boating and family gatherings, particularly during the summer months, so it’s a good idea to bring a leash if your dog doesn’t play well with others. Stay in the lightly populated areas around the park, or look for vacation rentals in downtown Fayetteville to be closer to restaurants and entertainment.
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2. Fort Smith Dog Park, Fort Smith
With its large pond and extensive off-leash area, the Fort Smith Dog Park is the perfect spot to let your pet work off some energy after a long car trip. A large pond provides plenty of space for swimming – for dogs only. A small, sandy beach rings the pond, creating a comfortable spot for you to wait while your pet plays. The park is fenced in, so you can let your dog run safely as long as he’s within eyesight. Keep in mind that the park is intended specifically for dogs; babies and toddlers are discouraged, and kids may not chase or run with the animals. If you’re traveling with little ones, it’s important to note that park rules state that each adult may bring a maximum of three dogs and/or children in at once. Dogs do not have to be on a leash, but you should keep one with you. Nearby, look for beautiful rental properties along the Arkansas River.
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3. Lake Ouachita State Park, Mountain Pine
Surround yourself with the beautiful Arkansas wilderness at Lake Ouachita State Park in the central part of the state. This huge lake offers a long shoreline, which is easily accessible from the state park. Dogs are welcome, as long as they stay on leash the entire time. Avoid swimming beaches, but feel free to hop in the water with your pet anywhere outside the buoyed areas. The water is shallow in many places along the shore, so it’s great for kids. Lake Ouachita is a popular spot for water sports, so if your dog is nervous, stick to the quiet hidden coves. If you’re planning to stay in the area, the best vacation properties sit along the shores of the lake; many have private docks and private beaches, so your dog can enjoy off-leash time.
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4. Lake Catherine State Park, Hot Springs
With its picture-perfect waterfalls and clear, cool water, Lake Catherine State Park is a paradise for both humans and pets. Dogs on leashes are free to explore the park, so you can take your furry friend everywhere you go. Enjoy a hike through the forest on four long trails, or head straight down to the water for a swim. The water is safe for swimming, but it’s a good idea to stay away from the boat docks for safety; the lake teems with boaters on the weekends and in the summer. Don’t miss a visit to Falls Creek Falls, where your pet can cool off with a dip in a shallow inlet. Along the shoreline, you can find plenty of water-access spots, so everyone in the family can jump in. In the local area, the best vacation rentals are along the Ouachita River or in the charming town of Hot Springs.
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5. Woolly Hollow State Park, Greenbrier
Spend a few days floating in Lake Bennett with your pup in Woolly Hollow State Park. This small, family-oriented park is located in central Arkansas, north of Little Rock. As with all Arkansas state parks, dogs are allowed as long as they’re on leash the entire time. Join visitors and locals in swimming in the lake, or rent a canoe, kayak, or paddle boat from the park store. Fishing is also allowed, but you must bring in your own bait. If you’re traveling with a boat, an onsite launch and dock makes it easy to get on the water. Woolly Hollow is quite remote, so you might need to drive in each day; look for rental properties in the small surrounding communities, including Guy, Greenbrier, and McGintytown.
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