Lake Ouachita is the largest lake in Arkansas. It was created through the creation of the Blakely Mountain Dam in 1952 to provide hydroelectric power to the State of Arkansas. The word Ouachita comes from the French spelling of the Indian word “Washita” that means “big hunt” or “good hunting grounds”. It has over 40,000 acres of water and an astounding 975 miles of shoreline surrounding the lake and is completely surrounded by Ouachita National Forest and is located 13 miles northwest of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The man-made Ouachita Lake naturally abounds with various natural resources. It features one of the largest crystal veins in the world, comprised mainly of quartz. This area has been highly prized and is eagerly sought by various mineral collectors, rockhounders , as well as the general public.
Some of the features of the lake can be seen when following the Geo-Float Trail, created by the US Army Corps of Engineers, to highlight the different geological transformations unique to the area. It is a water-based interpretive trail of and around Lake Ouachita. It is a 16-mile trip with twelve exploration areas.
Many of the features that can be seen on the Geo-Float trail include Whirlpool Rock, the Submarine Slide, the Zebra Rock, Recumbent Fold, and the Mountain Valleys. The Rolling Stones, the Geologic Fish Shelter, Checkerboard Point, several mini-caves, Mother Nature’s beach, different folds and faults, and Sticks and Stones round out the features that can be seen on the geo-float trail.
Several marine wildlife also calls the lake home. Among the wildlife present in the lake are the different species of fish, which include the Largemouth Bass, Small Mouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Bream, Crappie, Catfish, and Walleye. Lake Ouachita is also known as the Striped Bass Capital of the World due to a large number of Striped Bass living on the lake. It is also home to some rare non-stinging jellyfish and sponges. Lake Ouachita has been considered a mecca for anglers, spear-fishers, and scuba divers due to the abundance of marine wildlife in the clear waters of the lake.
Lake Ouachita State Park
The Lake Ouachita State Park, which was created in 1955 and formally established in 1965, is the gateway to Lake Ouachita. Most of its facilities feature renovated 1930s-era buildings and several restored 1970s-era park structures. These include its visitors center, its restaurant, several cabins, campsites, boat ramps, and a full-service marina. They also have a swimming area, several hiking trails, and interpretive exhibits at the Three Sisters’ Springs, a natural spring water accessible through the springhouse.
The park’s numerous cabins offer overlooking views of the lake while some offer views overlooking the woods. Park campgrounds are also available for those who prefer to bring their own tents or recreational vehicles.
Eagle tours are also provided for avid bird-watchers to view the different bird species that abound the area during winter.