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Lake Ouachita is completely surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest. It's the largest lake located entirely within the state of Arkansas. More than 200 islands can make your own private camping spot a reality! Explore 40,000+ acres of boating and water recreation, and 975 miles of shoreline. There are designated recreation areas for camping, fishing docks, boat slips and swimming. Several marinas rent a variety of watercraft, including houseboats.
Shoreline development is limited. For non-campers, several resorts with full boating facilities dot the shore. The surrounding Ouachita National Forest has over 700 miles of trails and facilities for hiking, mountain biking and ATVs.
Lake Ouachita was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944, primarily for flood control and power generation. It is the first of three reservoirs on the Ouachita River, near Hot Springs, created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine are the downstream reservoirs.) The gates of Blakely Mountain Dam were closed in 1953, creating this reservoir. Ouachita is the French spelling of an Indian word 'washita', which means 'good hunting grounds.'
Lake Ouachita is an angler's paradise. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, bream, crappie, catfish and walleye rank among its top fishing attractions. But trophy striped bass are the biggest draw for most anglers. For many, Lake Ouachita earns the title 'Striped Bass Capital of the World'.
Other attractions on and around Lake Ouachita include one of the largest crystal veins in the world, rare non-stinging jellyfish, and sponges. The Geo Float Trail, the first water-based interpretive trail in the National Trails System, is a project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Arkansas Geological Commission, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The 16-mile trail guides boaters around Lake Ouachita, stopping at many unique geological formations. Boaters should try this one!
For the geocaching aficionado, there are dozens of nearby caches to find and log. Bring your GPS and find a few.
The lake's Vista Trail challenges mountain bikers, as do Womble Trail and Little Blakely Trail. The Vista Trail is planned to eventually cover 35-40 miles of Lake Ouachita's shoreline.
Spearfishing is popular; Arkansas is one of the few states that permit it in fresh water. Scuba divers revel in a special spearfishing season at Lake Ouachita. A scuba training area attracts instructors and students from neighboring states to Ouachita's clear waters, where underwater visibility can reach 30 feet during good weather.
Lake Ouachita has something for everyone - boating, fishing, hiking, biking, scuba diving, and hunting. Pure outdoor enjoyment beckons nature lovers to Ouachita, and makes it a 'must visit' Arkansas lake.
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