The Smallest State Park in Arkansas Packs a Big Punch

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A push pin on Arkansas on a map.

Lower White River Museum State Park may be small, but you don’t want to overlook it. The state has done a phenomenal job creating a unique spot for visitors.

Add this to your list if you’re passing through Arkansas and looking for something fun to do. It provides a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn something new.

Today, we’re sharing all about Lower White River Museum State Park and why it’s worth your time. Let’s dive in!

About Arkansas State Parks

The first Arkansas State Park, Petit Jean State Park, was created in 1923. However, the park system has grown tremendously over the last 100 years and throughout the state. Residents and visitors can explore the mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers within them.

The parks are more than 55,000 acres combined and provide 1,800 campsites, 208 cabins, and five lodges. Each year they allow more than eight million visitors to make priceless memories by spending time in nature.

Hobbs Conservation Area, with more than 12,054 acres, is the largest park in the system. However, today, we’re talking about the smallest. How small is it? We’ll get into that in a minute.

How Many Arkansas State Parks Are There?

While the park system started with one lonely state park in 1923, that’s no longer the case. During the 1950s and 60s, the state added more than 20 units. Today, there are more than 50 Arkansas State Parks.

The newest additions are Mississippi River State Park (2009) and Delta Heritage Trail State Park (2002). With over 20 years since the latest addition, is it time for one more? We’ll have to wait and see!

What Does It Cost to Visit Arkansas State Parks?

Arkansas is one of eight states that provides free access to almost all its parks. Visitors can explore the lands by hiking, biking, picnicking, or hitting the water on a boat. There are also a variety of interpretive programs offered throughout the year at many of the parks. 

The only park in the state that charges an admission fee is Historic Washington State Park. Admission to this park costs $7 per adult and $3 for kids six to 12 years old. Despite its minimal cost, it’s a fantastic value as all ages can enjoy stepping back into time.

What Is the Smallest State Park in Arkansas?

The smallest state park in Arkansas is Lower White River Museum State Park. This 0.4-acre museum was initially established in 1970 as Des Arc Archeological Center Bethell Pioneer Museum. However, in 1975, officials turned it over to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and gave it a new name.

About Lower White River Museum State Park

Lower White River Museum State Park is in Des Arc, Arkansas. Park officials take great pride in preserving the rich history and culture of the Lower White River’s region. Visitors can learn about the White River’s vital role in establishing the area, especially during the steamboat era.

You can see life-size figures of a steamboat captain, an enslaved person, a school teacher, and a land surveyor. Visitors can learn from officials throughout the year as they offer a variety of interpretive programs. You’ll leave learning about the river, how it impacted the economy, and how it played a part in the American Civil War.

Life-size figures in Lower White River Museum State Park, the smallest park in Arkansas.
Source: Arkansas State Parks

Things to Do Near Lower White River Museum State Park

The Lower White River Museum State Park isn’t the only thing to do in the area. We’ve found several other things to do during your visit to the site. Let’s take a look!

Cache River National Wildlife Refuge

This 58,500-acre wildlife refuge was established in 1986 and sits less than 20 miles from the state park. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the facility. While exploring the area, you can see swamps, bottomland hardwood forests, and open water areas.

You can also see various birds, waterfowl, and other animals living in their natural environment. Make sure you bring your camera, as there will be plenty of wildlife to capture. 

View of Cache River National Wildlife Refuge.

Des Arc City Parks

There are two city-run parks within Des Arc. They’re both at the end of Main Street and provide a phenomenal view of the White River. You’ll find pavilions and outdoor picnic areas at both, but only one has a playground.

The Des Arc City Park walking trail starts behind the Prairie County Courthouse and runs along the river. It’s 10 feet wide and half a mile long, but it can be a great evening stroll. The antique street lamps create a perfect setting to walk with your loved ones or your four-legged friend. 

Grand Prairie Farmer’s Market

If you’re in town on the weekend, the Grand Prairie Farmer’s Market sits approximately 45 minutes north. This is an excellent opportunity to buy locally sourced fruits and veggies.

It operates from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Chamber Pavilion in Stuttgart, Arkansas. You never know what you’ll find here, but there’s always something delicious.

Keep in Mind: Looking to camp while in Arkansas? These are the 10 best places for free camping in the state!

Vegetables at Grand Prairie Farmer's Market.

Dagmar Wildlife Management Area

Approximately 30 miles southeast of Lower White River Museum State Park lies Dagmar Wildlife Management Area. This 800-acre bottomland overflow area features several small lakes and ponds. Popular activities here include hunting, fishing, and birding.

However, we want to point out that the mosquitoes can be intense if you plan to visit during the summer. They find the swampy habitat to be inviting and abundant throughout summer. You better come with a solid spray to fend them off.

Prairie County Historical Museum

The Prairie County Historical Museum is in Perryville, Arkansas. While this may be a bit of a drive if you’re at the state park, it’s an excellent place to stop on your way to or going home from it.

This 1930s building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a product of work from the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s.

You’ll find pieces from the region’s history and how it has become what it is today. Take your time exploring the pictures and artifacts on display. If you’re a history buff, this is a must-see while visiting the area.

Read More: See what the other Arkansas State Parks have to offer!

Don’t Skip Lower White River Museum State Park

It’s easy to overlook smaller state parks because of their size. However, big things can come in small packages. Don’t let its size fool you. Exploring Lower White River Museum State Park can be an incredible, relaxing weekend adventure.

The area has plenty to offer, and you’ll be able to enjoy a slower pace while you explore nature and learn about history.

Have you been to Arkansas’s smallest state park?

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