Constructed under the supervision of the Corps of Engineers’ Little Rock District, Lake Dardanelle and Winthrop Rockefeller Lake comprise one of the most accessible and attractive recreation areas in Arkansas.
With nearly 40,000 acres of boating and fishing waters and rimmed by choice picnic and camping areas, it is the ideal leisure-time destination. Lake Dardanelle spreads westward behind Dardanelle Dam into Pope, Yell, Logan, Johnson, and Franklin Counties. Two miles wide in places, it reaches 50 miles upstream to the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Lock and Dam and has 315 miles of shoreline.
Parks on Lake Dardanelle offer many recreational opportunities. Each has drinking water, toilet facilities, and picnic tables. Several have boat launch ramps, trailer dump stations, electrical sites with water, and group picnic shelters. Public boat docks offer boat and motor rental services, fuel, food, and other supplies and services.
Winthrop-Rockefeller Lake begins below Dardanelle Dam and extends 2.8 miles southeast to Arthur V. Ormond Lock and Dam near Morrilton. The lake provides excellent boating and fishing with scenic views of Petit Jean Mountain and fertile croplands along the river’s banks.
The Arkansas River has for many years been popular with fishermen for its large catfish. White bass are native to the river, with adults traveling in schools and feeding near the surface. Bream, crappie, and largemouth bass are stocked in the lake and provide excellent sport fishing. With no closed season and mild winters, fishing is good year round.
Located near the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests, the area has an abundance of wildlife. There is in-season hunting for deer, turkey, water fowl and other small game. This game and the picturesque shoreline provide ideal conditions for nature enthusiasts and camera bugs.
The River Valley is a favorite wintering area for the American Bald Eagle. From late fall through early spring, eagle are often seen perched in large trees and on snags along the river as they hunt for their favorite prey – fish. Popular viewing areas include Old Post Road Park in Russellville and Holla Bend National Wildlife Refuge, southeast of Dardanelle.