October 19-20, 2010 – Lake Dardanelle
We drove from Oklahoma to Arkansas and decided to stop at Lake Dardanelle, a very large lake caused by the damming of the Arkansas River. Along the Arkansas, there is a series of dams, much like the other big rivers we have crossed during our trip. Arkansas had by far, the best Visitors’ Center of all the states we have been in thus far. Not only were there brochures for private vendors, but there was an Arkansas Adventure Guide book that contained a listing of all of the state parks, national parks, national forest, corps of engineers and other public lands with information as to which permitted camping and what facilities were available at each. It also contained both hiking and waterway trail information; first time we have seen this. There was also an Arkansas tour guide that described various tourist opportunities. The people at the Welcome Center were incredibly knowledgeable and informative (at the Fort Smith, AR site). They even went so far as to give us a Tennessee map so we could see the relationship between the border areas.
Lake Dardanelle has 315 miles of shoreline. The campground was very nice with big level sites. We had a site right on the lake although there was a cooling tower presumably for a nuclear power plant right across the lake from us. I know this sounds strange, but at sunset, the steam clouds were beautiful. The park’s visitor center was the nicest we have ever seen. There were huge fish tanks with fishes from the lake to view. This is a big tournament bass fishing lake.
We kayaked for about 2 hours on the lake in relatively calm waters. The trees are just starting to turn so it was pretty. We then drove to the town of Dardanelle through Russellville, AR, the biggest town nearby. Dardanelle looked like a typical southern river town with narrow streets and that sleepy feel. There is a lock and dam at Dardanelle and we saw one large barge going through the lock. There were many stray cats at the park there and Dixie was beside herself trying to leap out of the truck. When we finally got out to walk along the river, she kept searching for the kitties.
Then, to Wal-mart for some supplies. Again, an interesting slice of local life…