Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year in the South. Even better, fall camping in the Ozarks is one of the best parts of living in the South! Keep reading to plan a 2-day fall camping road trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma to the Northwest Arkansas Ozarks. This post talks about visiting Natural Falls State Park, hiking to the Dripping Springs Falls, camping at Beaver Lake, and exploring the quaint mountain town of Eureka Springs in Northwest Arkansas.
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Living in the South means there are actually four weather seasons. In many parts of the U.S., summer goes straight into winter.
Fall is the best time of year to explore the Ozarks because there are little to no bugs, no ticks, no chiggers, you can see through the brush better, and it is not humid. Not to make summer sound doom and gloom, but the fall is the best time of year to explore this part of the country. In case this post finds you during the winter and spring – these seasons are also an excellent time for a road trip to the Ozarks (but our favorite is the fall for fall foliage)!
With COVID going on this year, many of us are staying reasonably close to home or opting for outdoor recreation adventures close by. Vacationing or spending weekends closer to home has definitely been trending this year for obvious reasons. If you live in the South or Midwest, discover fall camping in the Ozarks!
This post is structured as a 2-day road trip guide to help you plan an epic weekend exploring the Ozarks in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
If you are coming from Tulsa or the surrounding area, this is perfect for you!
Google from your exact location for precise details to plan your road trip!
Many of you have probably heard of the Ozarks, even if you didn’t grow up in Oklahoma. This is most likely because you read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls in middle school or high school.
In fact, as I am writing this post reflecting on my childhood, this autobiographical fiction was one of my favorite books – the tale of a young boy’s mountain adventures with his beloved hound dogs. The cherished novel was turned into a movie. Did you know parts of the movie were filmed in the Ozarks of eastern Oklahoma? Dripping Springs Falls in Natural Falls State Park is where parts of Where the Red Fern Grows was filmed.
Dripping Springs Falls is a short hike from the parking lot. Stop and spend a few hours at Natural Falls State Park on your way to or from fall camping in the Ozarks. Natural Falls State Park is located in the Oklahoma Ozarks near Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Siloam Springs is on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Since we live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Natural Falls State Park is on the way to our favorite Beaver Lake campground in Arkansas. So, adding this stop makes for a great weekend camping excursion.
After a short hike, we’ll continue the road trip and head to Beaver Lake. The best lake for fall camping in the Ozarks!
Beaver Lake is located in Arkansas. Its reputation for being a crystal-clear mountain lake holds true from our personal experience. The mountain lake is surrounded by Ozark mountainy-hills, dense brush, and hardwoods. The ecosystem makes for spectacular floral displays during the fall, with all the leaves changing.
Dam Site Lake Campground is located on a little peninsula. Almost all of the campsites are waterfront. The campground is sunny and well maintained. We absolutely love it!
You can fish right from the shores, stand up paddleboard, kayak, and swim. It is really an exceptional place to camp with spectacular sunrises and sunsets of the Ozarks in the background.
Be sure to make reservations ahead of time through recreation.gov. Making reservations to camp was new to us. Make a reservation ahead of time. We don’t recommend just showing up. There may not be an open spot!
Additionally, Dam Site Lake Campground has hot water showers, running water, flushing toilets, and electric hook up for those of you in RVs. It’s kind of nice to have a place to shower after playing in the water all day!
It costs about $20/night to camp.
The campsites are well maintained. All have fire pits, and some sites even have little shelters over the picnic table.
Pick any spot along the shores for a waterfront retreat. You won’t be disappointed…
Spend time playing in the water at Beaver Lake. Bring stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and fishing equipment. You can launch your gear right from the campsites.
You can visit the dam lookout near the Dam Site Lake Campground if you are interested in seeing Beaver Dam.
Beaver Lake is a reservoir managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Arkansas generates power from Beaver Dam located near Rogers, Arkansas, on an as-needed basis supplying local power to the surrounding area. Pretty cool, a local natural resource supplies hydroelectric power to the area. I did my MS in Energy and Sustainability, so I tend to nerd out on information like this.
Next, visit the town of Eureka Springs. It is an excellent place for outdoor recreation and adventure year-round. This town is the gateway to all the outdoor recreation in the Ozarks since it is close to Beaver Lake, Buffalo River, White River, and Table Rock Lake. There are plentiful options for hiking, camping, mountain biking, and river and lake recreation galore!
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Eureka Springs, you could stop by to grab a coffee at a local coffee shop or walk the main strip to see art, boutique shops and indulge in local restaurants. We love how all the houses are painted fun bright colors on the main strip.
There are a few little hikes through the oak brush in town you can do as well. We started our tour from the famed Crescent Hotel and Spa. We stopped and walked the Harmon Park Loop Trail.
For more information on trails near Eureka Springs, you can go to their website. It is a darling little mountain town.
Here’s what to do on a road trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Northwest Arkansas:
In summary, we hope this post helps you find a new place for road trip adventures and camping in the Ozarks.
Just in case this post finds you during the winter and spring, these seasons are also a nice time for a road trip to the Ozarks!
Pablo and I absolutely love Dam Site Lake Campground at Beaver Lake. We always have fun stopping in Eureka Springs too. It’s fun to spend a weekend hiking, camping, being at the lake, then stopping for hot coffee.
Thanks for reading.
Ashlee & Pablo
Exploring in Arkansas? New to tent camping? You might also enjoy these articles:
If you have other places, you love to camp in the Ozarks, chime in and comment below.
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I’m a travel and outdoor recreation writer with dreams to inspire happiness through an outdoorsy lifestyle. I want to help people live their best life by sharing free adventure guides. The USA has been my backyard most of my life, and it’s the place where you’ll find most of our escapades! I’m married to an expat Argentine, chihuahua Mom, and am passionate about the environment. I hold a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability. We camp in our Aliner often, love road trips, hiking, and SUP’ing!