Featured photo by Arkansas State Tourism
4 Ways To Spend A Weekend In Mississippi River State Park!
Marianna, Arkansas is a small Delta city about 50 miles southwest of West Memphis. But Marianna is much more than that. Nearby the L’Anguille River, the Saint Francis River, the Mississippi River, Bear Creek Lake, and the Saint Francis National Forest, Marianna can be considered somewhat of a hub for outdoor recreation, encouraging visitors and locals to explore Arkansas outdoors all year long.
A great place to get your share of the great outdoors is at Mississippi River State Park just outside of the city in the northern part of the Saint Francis National Forest. With the Great River Road and Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byways passing right through the city and the park, Mississippi River State Park is a great weekend stop to get some fresh air, stretch your legs, and enjoy all the park has to offer.
The Mississippi River State Park is a great place for you to take a break from the Great River Road and settle in for a weekend of fun and the outdoors. Camping is the only way to stay at the park, but campsites range from RVs and Class AAA sites to Class D and primitive sites and are flexible enough to accommodate the needs of all visitors. With three campgrounds offered at Bear Creek Recreation Area in the north and one at Storm Creek Lake Recreation Area in the south, there are plenty of options to make your camping experience one to remember.
Bear Creek offers Beech Point Campground with RV hookups and paved sites, Lone Pine Campground with primitive sites, and Maple Flats Campground with paved sites. The campgrounds each feature amenities and additions including views of the lake, restrooms, docks, and lake access. Storm Creek features only primitive campsites at Storm Creek Campground but offers the best views of nature and wildlife. You can refer to the park brochure to find descriptions of each campground to help you choose the one that will fit your needs while camping in the park.
If your idea of fun is getting out on the water and enjoying the sunshine and good company, you’ll want to fill your weekend at Mississippi River State Park with plenty of water recreation. Luckily, throughout the entire Saint Francis National Forest, there are seven bodies of water giving visitors various opportunities for fishing, kayaking, boating, and swimming.
Bear Creek Lake is the closest body of water to the park with direct access from both campgrounds on the lake. Take a boat or kayak out on the Saint Francis River or the Mississippi River. Park visitors enjoy fishing for largemouth bass, bream, crappie, and catfish, especially at Storm Creek Lake, along with swimming and relaxing at the beaches. If you need to rent some equipment to take out on the water, the park rents solo and tandem kayaks, paddleboards, and 14 or 15 foot boats daily.
Whether you love to hike for miles or just enjoy a simple nature walk, the Mississippi River State Park trails have a trail for you. With its location in the southern end of Crowley’s Ridge, in the Saint Francis National Forest, and bordering the Mississippi River, the park offers beautiful scenery, views, and glimpses of the local wildlife at every turn.
A great trail for beginners, kids, and those looking for an easy hike is Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail. This one-mile loop winds through groves of identified native trees and unique flora and fauna of Crowley’s Ridge and is a great trail to explore the forest. Other easy trails include Trotting Fox Trail and Horner Neck Lake, both of which are less than a mile. But if you are interested in more of a challenge, Base Line Trail is a four-mile round trip that will immerse you in the forest and introduce you to some tougher terrain.
The Mississippi River State Park visitor center is a recent addition to the park, giving park visitors a place to observe and explore the local wildlife, flora and fauna, nature, and geological formations. A beautiful, new facility with various interactive exhibits, you can stop into the visitor center free of charge and connect to the park by learning about the area.
The visitor center is a great place to check out if you’re traveling with kids, too. The interactive exhibits are hands-on and give both adults and kids a fun way to learn about the Arkansas Delta, the Mississippi River, and Crowley’s Ridge. You can also rent out the center’s large, multi-purpose area meetings, family reunions, or other group events.
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