If you’re going to bill yourself a “resort state park,” you’d better deliver the goods, and that’s just what DeGray Lake Resort State Park (501-865-5850) does, starting with the stately lodge. The second you walk into the common area with its soaring stone fireplace, you know you’ve found something special for your reunion, family vacation, or couple’s getaway
The idea for a state-owned resort began percolating among local officials during the late 1960s as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Caddo River to create the 13,400-acre DeGray Lake. Arkansas wanted to offer a property to compete with resort state parks in Oklahoma and Texas, and the lake provided an ideal opportunity to do just that.
The 96-room lodge occupies its own island off the north shore of the lake, situated in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Amenities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, an 18-hole golf course, a playground, tennis and sand volleyball courts, and a day-use courtesy dock.
With large windows overlooking the lake, the Shoreline Restaurant offers a great place to enjoy sunrise and a hearty breakfast. You’ll need the fuel for a hike on one of the parks’ six trails. On the 1-mile Island Trail during winter, you’ll likely spot loons, ducks, and eagles. Guests also can tour on horseback via trail rides offered through Thanksgiving from DeGray Lake’s stables.
But the lake’s shimmering cobalt-blue waters top the park’s list of charms. Bring your own watercraft or rent one from the marina and spend the day cruising the channel or fishing for crappie, bream, catfish, and hybrid stripers.
Or just drop anchor and relax at one of several nearby islands as the setting sun puts on its nightly finery. When conditions allow, eagle-watching tours are offered during the winter.