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Lake Dardanelle stretches out over more than 34,000 acres in the River Valley region of northwest Arkansas, sandwiched between the Ozark Mountains to the north and the Ouachita Mountains to the south. Lake Dardanelle provides many excellent recreational opportunities, including parks and recreation areas with boat ramps, fishing docks, hiking trails, marinas with boat slips, camping sites, swimming areas, picnic sites, and playgrounds.
Lake Dardanelle was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by building a dam to impound the Arkansas River. Because the Arkansas River was difficult to navigate, the River and Harbor Act of 1946 authorized the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System. Construction of Dardanelle Lake, Dam, Lock, and Powerhouse began in 1957 and was completed in 1969 for the purposes of improved river navigation, hydroelectric power generation, recreation, and fish and wildlife enhancement. 85 percent of Lake Dardanelle's 315 shoreline miles are dedicated to protected areas, 9 percent to public recreation areas, and 6 percent to limited development.
Lake Dardanelle is very popular with anglers for its large catfish and white bass. Bream, crappie, and largemouth bass are stocked in the lake, providing excellent sport fishing. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission studies of bass tournaments across the state reveal that Lake Dardanelle is the most productive bass fishery in the State of Arkansas. With no closed season and mild winters, fishing is good year round.
The area has an abundance of wildlife with in-season hunting for deer, turkey, water fowl and other small game. The success rate of the growing Canada Goose Season is proof of the productive breeding ground provided by Lake Dardanelle. It is a favorite wintering area for the Bald Eagle often seen perched on snags and large trees. These animals and picturesque lake environs make for ideal conditions for nature enthusiasts and camera bugs.
Cabin and home vacation rentals are available in the Lake Dardanelle area. Four communities are located in the immediate vicinity of the lake: Russellville, Dardanelle, Clarksville, and Paris. Russellville is the largest with a population of over 23,000 and affords many shopping and restaurant locations. With easy access to Lake Dardanelle, the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests, and numerous canoeing and fishing streams, Russellville is an outdoor lover's natural paradise.
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