Lake Chicot State Park

Lake Village Arkansas

Delta Region

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The Mississippi Delta's captivating beauty and recreational opportunities come together at Arkansas's largest natural lake.  Cut off centuries ago when the Mississippi River changed course, this 20-mile long oxbow lake, is a peaceful setting for fishing, boating and bird watching.  Fishing for crappie, bass and bream is popular, especially on the upper end of the lake during the spring and fall. Year-round fishing for catfish is great.

Located in the Mississippi Flyway, this park offers some of the best year-round birding opportunities in Arkansas.  The park interpreter offers lake tours, levee tours and other opportunities for you to view a variety of birds and other wildlife.

Nestled in a pecan grove, the park offers 122 campsites (39 Class AAA, 16 Class AA, and 67 Class B including several sites with Class C options), 14 cabins with kitchens (many with fireplace, lake view patio and fishing dock), a swimming pool (open in summer), picnicking, standard pavilions (screened), laundry and playground. The store/marina offers food, gifts, fuel and bait for sale. Here you'll also find boats, motors and personal water craft to rent, fuel, bait and a launch ramp. The visitor center features interpretive exhibits that tell of the area's history and natural resources. Bicycles can be rented here at the center.

You'll find food and gifts at the store/marina.  Here you'll also find boats, motors and personal water craft to rent, fuel, bait and a launch ramp.  The visitor center interprets the area's history and natural resources through exhibits and programs.  Bicycles can be rented here. 

Our fully equipped housekeeping cabins include: sofa-bed, fireplace, full kitchen, bath/shower, air conditioner/heater, television w/ satellite reception. Also included are basic cooking utensils, dishes, pots, pans utensils, etc., range, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, toaster, blender, iron, and ironing board, blankets, pillows, towels and linens. Grill and picnic table are located on the patio. There are also telephones in the cabins. All cabins are ADA accessible. Lakeview cabins have fishing piers which are accessible to all cabin guests.

The pavilions at Lake Chicot State Park are perfect for birthday parties, family reunions, business parties and almost any type of group celebration. Contact the park to make your reservations.

Delta Woodlands Trail

Length: 1 mile
Time: 1/2 - 3/4 hour
Difficulty: Easy

Description: A variety of bottomland hardwoods encompass the trail at Lake Chicot State Park. Birds and wildflowers flourish in this rich area. Groves of mature pecan trees provide a safe haven for playful squirrels. A diversity of man's influence and nature is visible on this trail.

Location: 8 miles northeast of Lake Village on Hwy. 144

Face-lift Reason for Pride at Lake Chicot State Park

By Jim Taylor, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

At Arkansas's 11th state park, Lake Chicot, stately cypresses and willows frame scenic vistas of broad waters unexpected in the flat terrain of the Delta. Cabins, campsites, a store and marina with boat and other watercraft rentals, fishing piers, a swimming pool, pavilions and picnic areas, trails and interpretive programs are among the park's recreational assets. For additional information, including other events at the park, call (870) 265-5480

LAKE VILLAGE -- In the southeast corner of Arkansas lies a prominent -- though under appreciated -- natural wonder: North America's largest ox-bow lake. Shaped like a "C," it is 20 miles long and at some places just shy of a mile wide. Once the Mississippi River's main channel, the lake was cut off centuries ago when the river altered its course.

The state's first-ever study of its recreational needs, published in 1940, recommended the lake "be given prime consideration for an addition to the State park system." It wasn't until 1957, however, that a donation by area residents of land on the lake's northwest shore led to the creation of Lake Chicot State Park.

"The park is looking better than ever," a beaming Superintendent Ocie Hunter said recently. "We used to be just scraping to get by, and now we're making tremendous changes. We're getting so many comments from visitors about how nice this facility or that facility is. You just wouldn't believe it."

Funded primarily through the state's Amendment 75, one-eighth cent conservation tax approved by Arkansas voters in 1996, with other assistance coming from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, the park has lately been undergoing a face-lift of substantial proportions.

An expanded visitors center with an attractive covered entranceway and more parking greets new arrivals. Four renovated, lakefront cabin duplexes are now suitable for use by persons with physical handicaps and offer fireplaces. The marina store has been spruced up and a fuel dock added. And, a barrier-free fishing pier, a courtesy dock, and a barrier-free restroom have been constructed.

Changes less obvious to visitors include improvements to the park's sewer and water systems, shoreline erosion-control work, and a new equipment shed and maintenance equipment.

Within the next few years, a complete renovation of the park swimming pool and its bathhouse, remodeling of the park's three wood-side cabin duplexes to include fireplaces and whirlpool baths, campground improvements, and road and drainage work are expected to be completed. On the distant horizon, Hunter said, is the construction of a 60-room lodge.

The beauty of Arkansas's largest natural lake continues to serve as one of the park's main attractions. Sunsets often blaze dazzling colors across the open water and the big sky afforded by the area's flat terrain. In late summer, small cypresses across from the park sometimes appear as if covered with snow as hundreds of wading birds, including great and snowy egrets, fly in to roost. Warm-season, evening barge tours of a swampy area at the lake's north end reveal alligators, owls, raccoons and other wildlife.

Hunter said the lake's fishing and birding opportunities draw many visitors to the park. "Fishing is what made Lake Chicot what it is," he said. Crappie and bream are favored targets during spring and fall, he added, while catfish are sought year round. Because of its southern location, prime fishing on Lake Chicot usually begins earlier in the spring than on Arkansas's other major lakes.

For birdwatchers, the area produces late summer sightings of wood storks and other species rarely seen in Arkansas, while winter draws bald eagles and abundant waterfowl to the area. Resident songbirds and woodpeckers can be found along the park's Delta Woodlands Trail throughout the year and they are joined in spring and fall by migratory warblers.

The park's annual interpretive activities capitalize on the area's wildlife, as well as its historical and musical legacies. Lake barge tours and van tours to area birding hotspots are offered at various times throughout the year.

A Father/Son Civil War Campout is scheduled for June 15-16 and the Civil War Weekend on October 5-6 will observe the 138th anniversary of the nearby Battle of Ditch Bayou. Arkansas's last major Civil War engagement was fought on June 6, 1864 as federal troops fought to dislodge Confederate forces that had been harassing traffic on the Mississippi. The battlefield is one of several sites listed in a self-guided Civil War tour detailed in a brochure available at the visitors center.

The area's blues and gospel music heritage will be celebrated during the park's Jammin' in the Delta Blues Festival on June 22 and Gospelfest on September 21.

"We try to cater to just about everybody's needs who come here," John Morrow, the park interpreter, said of the park's programs.

Also available at the visitors center is a brochure for a self-guided "Levee Tour," much of which runs atop the embankments that now protect nearby Lake Village and the surrounding area from the Mississippi's floods.

Tour highlights include waterfowl and wading birds in the water-filled borrow pits from which dirt for the levees was taken, the remains of a Native American mound, a site called Whiskey Chute where river pirates once roamed and a visit to the Lake Chicot Pumping Plant. Housed in a building eight stories tall and one-and-a-half times the size of a football field, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plant prevents muddy farmland runoff from befouling the lake.

Hunter said Lake Chicot State Park is popular for family, church and class reunions, and his staff tries to provide activities, such as a Halloween dance, for the youth in the surrounding rural area. "We're trying to give the local youths something they can look forward to doing," he said.

"We like to say," he added, "we're just a country park but we're going to treat you right. Once we get visitors here, we generally have no problem getting them to come back."

Did you know Lake Chicot is Arkansasís largest natural lake, and the nationís largest natural oxbow?

Lake Chicot State Park lies on the shores of Lake Chicot, Arkansasís largest natural lake. Itís also the nationís largest natural oxbow remnant, cut off centuries ago when the Mighty Mississippi changed course. Ringed with cypress trees, and rich in wildlife, this lake sets the mood for great fishing, wildlife watching or just relaxing and watching the dramatic sunsets over the lake. The Mississippi Deltaís captivating beauty and abundant recreational opportunities come together here in the peaceful park.

Lake Chicot, once the main channel of the Mississippi River, is now a protected sporting area for outdoor enthusiasts. Famous nationwide for its fantastic catches of bream, crappie, bass and catfish, anglers from all over the country come to try their luck among the quiet coves of this bayou-like haven. Lurking in the high ground and hidden in the swamps of this region are raccoon, mink, bobcat, white-tailed deer, wild turkey and many species of waterfowl.

Lake Chicot's setting in the Mississippi Flyway attracts a wide variety of birds. Annual birding events at the park include eagle and waterfowl watching, a spring migration count, a Christmas Bird Count, guided levee, lake, and trail tours to emphasize this unique area and its diverse bird life.

Lake Chicot State Park overlooks the lake and is uniquely situated in a grove a majestic wild pecan trees. The park is home to the state champion Nutallís oak tree.

The park offers fourteen cabins; eight of these cabins are barrier-free with a lake view (and many offer a fireplace, lake view patio and fishing dock).

Each of the parkís 127 campsites offer paved camping pads, a dual electrical outlet, water hookup, and a table and grill.

Lake Chicot State Park offers access to a variety of south Arkansas attractions. Historic in nature is the Great River Road, marked by the pilot wheel of a steamboat. Stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the Great River Road seeks to link together and preserve the history of the Mississippi River Valley and its people. It enters the state near Lake Chicot and passes the entrance to the park on its way north. Stretched as far as the eye can see are farmlands widely known for their high yields in diversified farm products. A tour of the area will reflect farming from the plantation era of the early 1800s to the mass production methods of modern technology.

Historical Notes

Lake Chicot State Park

Lake Chicot State Park, located near Arkansasís southeastern corner, provides recreational access to Arkansasís largest natural lake, Lake Chicot, a twenty-mile-long oxbow created by the Mississippi River hundreds of years ago. Activities at the lake and its environs include fishing and bird watching.

Early in the twentieth century, the pure waters of the lake were used untreated by the city of Lake Village.  The area became popular for its fishing, boating, and other recreational activities. The forests surrounding the lake served as a rich habitat for wildlife. The lake was polluted by a flood in 1916 and, beginning in 1920, work on the Mississippi River levee polluted it even more. Dredging, increased cultivation around the lake, and the resulting deposition of silt and pesticides throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s caused the water quality to deteriorate.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) realized the damage being done to the lake and attempted to preserve it. Arkansasís first-ever study of its recreational needsówhich was conducted by the State Parks Commission, the State Planning Board, and the National Park Service and published in 1940órecommended that Lake Chicot, uniquely valuable as the stateís largest natural lake and the nationís largest natural oxbow, ďbe given prime consideration for an addition to the State park system.Ē In 1948, the AGFC constructed an earthen dam to separate the upper fourth of Lake Chicot from the runoff entering the lower portion of the lake via Connerly Bayou. The resulting improvement in water quality revitalized the beauty of the upper lake and inspired the creation of Lake Chicot State Park, an act made possible by a donation of land by Chicot County residents on the lakeís northwest shore in 1957. Hundreds of thousands of visitors per year returned to the upper lake. However, the recreational qualities of the polluted lower lake became nonexistent.

In 1985, a new pumping plant was installed to divert silt from the lake to the Mississippi River. Sport fish populations were restocked. Due to the areaís favorable climate and ecology, fishing conditions are once again excellent. Bass, catfish, crappie, bream, and a variety of other fishes are prolific.

Renovation of the parkís visitorsí center and other improvements were made following 1996 voter approval of a statewide one-eighth-percent sales tax, with proceeds earmarked for conservation and parks programs. Additional funding for improvements came from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Park facilities include cabins, campsites, a store and marina, fishing piers, a swimming pool, pavilions, picnic areas, and hiking trails. Interpretive programs highlight area wildlife and Civil War history. The park celebrates the areaís blues and gospel music heritage with its annual Jamminí in the Delta Blues Festival each June and Gospelfest each September.

Attractions

Lake Chicot is the largest oxbow lake in North America as well as the largest natural lake in Arkansas.  Lake Chicot State Park is located on 211.6 acres on the northern shores of the lake and offers 127 individual campsites as well as fourteen fully equipped cabins. The Chicot County Park also has campsites. The Lake Chicot Water Festival included national championship hydroplane boat races, bringing in competition from all over the state. However, this festival was discontinued in favor of the Harvest Festival in the fall that highlights the townís ties to agriculture. 

The restored Lakeport Plantation, now a heritage site and museum maintained by Arkansas State University, opened to the public in 2007. The site preserves the stateís only remaining plantation home on the Mississippi River.
 

Lake Chicot Brochure ►►

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Directions to Park

The park is on Arkansas 144 eight miles northeast of Lake Village.

Contact Information
2542 Highway 257, Lake Village, AR  71653
E-mail:  LakeChicot@Arkansas.com
Park/Campsite Reservations
1-870-265-5480
Cabin Reservations
1-800-264-2430

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