Lake Dardanelle State Park
Lake Dardanelle State Park is a popular camping and fishing destination located on the shores of a 34,300-acre man-made reservoir on the Arkansas River near the cities of Russellville (Pope County) and Dardanelle (Yell County). The park combines outdoor recreational opportunities with state-of-the-art facilities, exhibits, and technology.
In 1964, construction was completed on the Dardanelle Dam, located near the river crossing between Dardanelle and Russellville. Lake Dardanelle was created in 1965. Construction on the lock and powerhouse was completed in 1969. The dam, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was part of the McClellan-Kerr navigation project that made the Arkansas River navigable to commercial vessels.
At the urging of Russellville civic leaders, the Arkansas Publicity and Parks Commission petitioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow their Russellville recreational area, due to its proximity to both Interstate 40 and the city of Russellville, to become Lake Dardanelle State Park. Approval was granted, and the park was commissioned in 1966 with 292 acres spread over three locations in Russellville, Dardanelle, and Ouita (Pope County). The Ouita portion of the park was transferred to Russellville in 1996.
Today, Lake Dardanelle State Park includes two areas that are leased from the Corps of Engineers—163 acres in Russellville and eighty-three acres in Dardanelle. The Russellville (main park) and Dardanelle locations both offer camping, marinas, launch ramps, standard pavilions, picnic sites, restrooms, and bathhouses. The park visitor center, tournament fishing pavilion, and breakwater fishing dike are located at the Russellville area.
The visitor’s center houses the park’s administrative offices, information services, exhibition and educational programs, and retail sales. The visitor center features a gift shop, classrooms, audiovisual equipment, a laboratory, a catering kitchen, and interpretive exhibits, including 8,000 gallons of aquatic exhibits with four aquariums focusing on the local waterways, including Lake Dardanelle, the Arkansas River, and major tributaries.
The facility contains wireless and fiber optic technology to allow for information exchange with schools and to give the general public Internet access. The visitor’s center also features a wireless weather station for monitoring developing weather patterns for anglers and park visitors.
This area is now renowned as one of Arkansas’s most popular bass fishing tournament sites. The park’s facilities include a fishing tournament weigh-in pavilion (the state’s first of its kind), which opened in July 2002. The 1,861-square-foot pavilion serves as the staging area to host major bass fishing tournaments in which thousands of anglers participate annually.
For additional information:
Arkansas State Parks–Lake Dardanelle. http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakedardanelle/default.aspx (accessed June 4, 2014).
Lake Dardanelle. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District. http://www.swl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/ArkansasRiver/Dardanelle.aspx (accessed June 4, 2014).
Staff of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Last Updated: 06/04/2014