Arkansas- Shady Lake Recreation Area


Active Member
Sep 2, 2012
Great place for popups in South West Arkansas. CCC site in Ouachita National Forest. Sites are shady. Super clean restrooms and showers. Saline River runs into park, water runs even during drought. Spring fed, so water is really cold. Lots of rock formation, mini waterfalls. Lake itself is about 25 acres with no motors allowed. Some of the sites are closed due to Albert's Pike flood a few years ago. You will find this in most campgrounds in south west Arkansas. W/E on some, more with just water. Sites are level. Staff is super friendly. Activities for kids. The road in is rough. Keeps the dark side people out. Just a great place to take your family and hang out. Don't tell anyone. We don't want it to get too crowded.


Active Member
May 12, 2014
I know this topic is old, but I figured I would continue on this thread instead of starting a new one for Shady Lake.

Does anyone have any updated reviews of Shady Lake Recreation Area? I am very interested in going there this year - but I am an OCD planner and can't find much about the park. Does anyone have any site recommendations? We would like electric, we don't care about having sewer, water is almost a must. We like semi private sites with a lot of room between you and your neighbors.
As I said, I am very interested in visiting Shady Lake, as my parents used to take me there when I was little. However I am not good at just hitting the road and crossing our fingers that we know where we are going, what kind of sites there will be, etc.... any updated information and/or pictures would be lovely!!
Thanks! [CP]


Active Member
Sep 2, 2012
There is one w/e site in A loop. Really nice bathhouse. B loop has about 10 w/e sites. The bath house is older, D loop has about 5 or 6 w/e. Nice bath house. C loop has the one w/e/s site. The rest are tent. Bathhouse is older. The lake has been drained. Leaves and debris had piled up around the swimming area. There is a new road into the park, really nice. However, the new road brought more people. When we were there in the summer, w/e sites filled up on the weekend. You can't make reservations. All of it is first come-first serve. We absolutely love this place, any time of the year. They have a facebook page that one of the ladies who cleans at the park maintains. You can also go on the National Forest website and get a map of the area and the campground. We like D loop the best. Go during the week if you want to be sure to get a site.


Jun 8, 2018
Northern Alabama
We just moved from Mena and spent a ton of time at Shady Lake.
I don't remember the number of electric sites, but they do have several of them, along with one electric double site. (We were tent campers, so electric wasn't an issue). I do remember that none of the sites actually ON the lake have electricity. It does stay quite shady, so it's a perfect hangout for muggy summer days. The shower house is large. It's showing it's age, but was always pretty clean. There are also rooms you can rent for parties and such. There's even a ping pong table under the shelter (You have to bring your own balls/paddles.). The shelter also had a large fireplace.

The creek was amazing for my kiddos! Very clean and clear. The road going into the campground has been paved, but we still never saw any big RVs or TTs out there (Probably because the curves around the loop are VERY tight.). They just had a serious storm there with lots of tree damage. One of the CCC picnic shelters was damaged as well. The campground has been reopened, but may not be as pretty as it was.

I will warn you that during the summer, Shady Lake, Cossatot, and pretty well every single campsite and swimming hole ends up absolutely packed with vacationers from Texas- even the primitive campsites. If you all want some info on the Ouachita area, I've got it! :)


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