15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Arkansas

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dog is feeling chill at the collins creek trailhead in heber springs in a dog friendly vacation in arkansas

Located in the south-central area of the United States, Arkansas is bordered by Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Missouri. The state has a varied terrain, including the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains, dense forests, eastern lowlands, and wide open prairies. It also has a mixture of water bodies from hot springs to the Mississippi River hundreds of lakes, ponds, and streams. 

With a population of over three million people and approximately half a million dogs, you know there will be many different things for pup parents and their fur babies to do and see. There are seven national parks, two national forests, 52 state parks, and thousands of county, city, and community parks across the state, many of them dog-friendly. 

With cold winters and hot summers, you can enjoy summer and winter sports in Arkansas, from ice fishing, skiing, and snowboarding to swimming, boating, and fishing. You will not find too many places that do not allow dogs because it seems like everyone has one. Here are our top 15 choices for vacation locations in Arkansas for dog parents. 

Hot Springs

You can find hot springs in the Ouachita Mountains in the middle of Arkansas. Although it is famous for its namesake, the hot springs, you and your family will love visiting Magic Springs too, especially if you have little humans. However, the theme park does not allow fur babies so your pooch will have to stay with a dog sitter for this activity. Happy Puppy Spa, LLC would love to have him for a visit. 

Then, head to Magic Springs, where you and the rest of the family can enjoy 38 different carnival rides, including five roller coasters and 11 water rides. For the little ones, there are rides like Krazy Kars, Looney Ballooney, and Fearless Flyers, and for the older thrill seekers, there are rides like the Sky Shark, The Hawk, Plummet Summit, and Brain Drain.

Afterwards, pick up your pup and take him to play at one of the awesome dog parks in Hot Springs like the Hot Springs Bark Park on Hollywood Avenue. It has two acres with a separate small dog area, waste stations with bags, water fountains, shaded seating, and lots of room to run.

Little Rock 

For those on a budget, Little Rock has 18 dog-friendly hotels with rooms under $100. Several of them even have swimming pools like Motel 6, Magnuson Hotel, La Quinta, and Holiday Inn. In fact, the Holiday Inn even has free breakfast, a restaurant, and a fitness center. Some of them may charge a small fee per pet per night but it is best to ask when reserving your room. Then, after checking in, you and Fido can go play. 

MacArthur Unleashed Dog Park is a free place for pups to play off the leash in a safe and secure area. In the southeastern corner of MacArthur Park, there are two fenced sections. One is for small dogs, and the other is for dogs over 30 pounds. Another great free place is Paws Park at Murray Park. It has two acres with a section for small dogs, lots of tennis balls, and room to run and chase each other. 

Since you saved all that money, you can take your pooch with you to Bark Bar where you can enjoy an adult beverage while he has a Spaniel Sundae or Doggie Ale. There is a small fee for a daily pass but it is worth it.

Ozark-St. Francis National Forest 

In eastern Arkansas, the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest in Russellville has 1,222,600 acres with 370 miles of streams, almost 400 miles of trails, and 23 campgrounds with more than 500 campsites. It also has access to the Buffalo National River, Mississippi River, St. Francis River, Big Piney Creek, and Mulberry River, as well as hundreds of lakes and ponds.  It is a great place to catch catfish, bass, crappie, and trout. 

Camping here is varied. In some areas, you can park an RV and get full utilities and all the amenities you want, but others have nothing but port-a-potties. However, almost all of them have picnic tables and fire rings. Also, primitive camping is almost everywhere in the forest unless there are signs saying otherwise. Many of the campgrounds are near lakes, rivers, or streams where you can swim, fish, and go boating. 

If your pup needs some time off the leash, take him to Pleasant View Park. They have a fenced dog area with agility equipment like tunnels, jumps, and ramps that he will love. There is also a fishing pond, playground, and disc golf course.

Eureka Springs 

Thinking about a cozy bed and breakfast for a romantic tryst with your sweetheart? Eureka Springs has several of them and they are dog-friendly too. Beaver Lake Cottages has a private beach right on Beaver Lake, 5 Ojo Inn features a gourmet breakfast a gas fireplace, and a spa, and Arsenic & Old Lace offers a la carte breakfasts and terraces with a mountain view right across from Eureka Springs Music Park. 

After dropping off your luggage, take your two best friends on a train ride aboard the pup popular Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway where you can learn all about the area. Then, create some chills and thrills on a Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour. The 1886 Crescent Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in the world and dogs are welcome on a leash.

Finally, you and your cuddle buddies can enjoy a decadent gourmet meal at The Local Flavor Cafe. With items such as filet mignon, grilled salmon, and seared pork tenderloin, you will all find something you love.


Located on the outskirts of the Boston Mountains, which are nowhere near Massachusetts, you can find Fayetteville in the deep Ozarks. The population is over 100,000 with almost 16,000 dogs and it is also very affordable with 10 pup popular hotels that welcome dogs that have rooms under $100. In fact, Motel 6 is only $55 and it has a beautiful pool. Days Inn also has a pool as well as free breakfast for $65 a night. 

What’s more, Fayetteville also has numerous free fun that you and your pup can enjoy like Gulley Park, where Fido is welcome on a leash. There is even a 1.5-mile trail with a creek where your fur baby can cool off if he gets hot. Also, the 320-acre Lake Wilson Park has a 28-acre lake for fishing, swimming, and boating, as well as trails and picnic tables. And the whole place is leash-free!

If you want a smaller fenced park for your pooch, take him to Bryce Davis IAMS Dog Park. It has almost 10 acres for leashed fun and a two-acre dog park where you can play leashless. 

Hot Springs National Park

Created in 1832 as a recreational area by Congress it has 26 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails to explore and enjoy with your cuddly canine compadre. To help you clean up, they even have dog waste stations at the ends of some trails and in the campground. However, you need to bring your own doggie waste bags. There are three main areas for hiking including the Hot Springs & North Mountain Trails, the West Mountain Trails, and the Sunset Trail. 

The Hot Springs & North Mountain Trails has 16 different trails from just an eighth of a mile to 1.7 miles. The West Mountain Trails include five trails from 0.7 miles to 1.5 miles. The Sunset Trail has three sections. The West Mountain Section is 2.8 miles, the Sugarloaf Mountain Section is 2.6 miles, and the Stonebridge Road Section is 3.8 miles. 

For something different, take Fido to the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum to see wax sculptures of famous people like movie stars, historical figures, and even some fictional characters. 


Couples with dogs have mentioned Bentonville as a wonderful spot for a dog-friendly vacation with your honey. The 21c Museum Hotel is the perfect place to stay with its rotating art galleries, gourmet restaurant, and massage options. If you enjoy the art at the hotel, take your two best friends to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art where the trails and grounds welcome leashed dogs. 

Afterward, go to Orchards Park for a picnic by the lake or flower garden. Your cuddle buddy is welcome on a leash. Also, in the northwestern corner of the park, you will find Bentonville Dog Park, where dogs can get off their leash and play unhindered. It has two acres with a small dog section, water, waste stations, and an agility course. 

There is another place for Fido called the Bentonville Bark Park, just a few minutes to the north. It has 1.3 acres separated by dog size and an agility course for fun and learning. Then, take your pup with you to the Rope Hounds Tap Room, where they have dog gear and cold beer. 


In the northwestern corner of Arkansas, you will find Rogers, with a population of 72,000 and an estimated 12,000 fur babies. Of all things, the city is known as the home of the first Walmart Store. It is also home to Beaver Lake, which has 31,700 acres and almost 500 miles of shoreline. If you want to get closer to nature, skip the hotel and stay at one of the 12 campgrounds with over 675 campsites. 

The closest one to Rogers, Prairie Creek Campground, has 107 sites with electricity, picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms with showers. Nearby, Horseshoe Bend Campground has 184 sites with electricity, picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms with showers. Also, Rivers Edge RV Park has 138 sites with full hookups, tables, fire pits, and horse stables as well as showers and propane.

Don’t miss visiting the War Eagle Cavern. Leashed pups are welcome to explore the cave with you on a guided tour or the miles of trails in the park. 

Mammoth Spring State Park 

Looking for a place to spend a weekend vacation with your pooch? Mammoth Spring State Park in Mammoth Spring has the largest spring in Arkansas, as well as dog-friendly trails, parks, and playgrounds for little humans if you bring any. The springs form a 10-acre lake before running down south as Spring River, which is a great place to catch trout or do some floating. 

The park has 62.5 acres of recreational space for hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and just hanging out. There is also a museum. The 1886 Depot Museum is an old train station with a cool-looking historic caboose you can see and picnic areas to enjoy. The park also rents pedal boats to pedal around the lake and see the crystal-clear water. 

After your day in the park with your cuddly canine companion on a leash, why not take him to play off the leash? Abby’s Dog Park in Horseshoe Bend, right outside the park, has almost an acre of fenced area for off-leash play. 

Fort Smith 

In western Arkansas with almost 90,000 residents and approximately 15,000 pups, Fort Smith is another awesome city with cheap hotels. There are nine hotels with dog-friendly rooms for under $100, including the Rest Inn, which is only $50 a night and even has a pool, fitness center, microwave, fridge, and free Wi-Fi. Also, the Rodeway Inn has all that plus a balcony with a view for just $58 a night.

During the summer, boating is one of the most popular activities at nearby Lake Fort Smith State Park. If you have a kayak, bring it. If not, you can rent one at the park. If you want to stay overnight, be sure to reserve your spot way in advance because there are only 30 campsites. It is even cheaper than the hotels. They also have picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills as well as hiking and fishing areas. 

To let Fido run away some of that excess energy, take him to Fort Smith Park where they have a fenced dog area for off-leash playing. 


You have quite a few vacation rentals in Jonesboro that allow dogs. For example, Embassy Suites offers luxury suites with an indoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, restaurant, bar, room service, and a free breakfast. It is right near the stadium and Arkansas State University as well as the Bradbury Art Museum and Unity Park. Also nearby, Lake Frierson State Park where you can enjoy the 355-acre lake, trails, and fishing pier. 

You can also spend the day at Craighead Forest Park where they have almost 700 acres at Crowley’s Ridge with a lake and trails. Then, take your fur baby to Midtown Dog Park, which has some awesome agility equipment, a small dog area, benches and chairs for pup parents, water fountains, waste stations, and a pavilion. 

Afterward, go to the Parsonage with your pup for some comfort food on the dog-friendly patio. They even have a doggie door. Try their Reuben or  Italian roast beef sandwich. For dessert, Andy’s Frozen Custard has sundaes, cones, malts, and concretes in all different flavors. 

Ouachita National Forest 

Plan your getaway today with a trip to Ouachita National Forest. With 1.8 million acres including the Ouachita Mountains, has the largest virgin forest in the United States with hundreds of thousands of untouched wilderness. You can go hiking, biking, and horseback riding on the 300+ miles of trails. There are also 13 campgrounds with over 340 sites. The largest is Cedar Lake with 77 sites on a 86-acre lake. 

The forest also has 1,600 acres of lakes and ponds as well as 4,000 miles of streams and five rivers with all sorts of great fishing opportunities. Just remember to get your Arkansas fishing license first. You and your leashed pup can also explore over 50 trails from easy half-mile walks to the 223-mile Ouachita National Recreation Trail. 

You can also go kayaking or canoeing on one of the rivers or boating on one of the lakes. But do not forget to have life jackets for you and your fur buddy. 


Take your pooch on a weekend trip to the only diamond mine in the world where you can search for real diamonds. The Crater of Diamonds State Park has a 37-acre field of what used to be a volcano where you and Fido can search for gemstones and minerals. And the best part is that you get to keep whatever you find! There have been 35,000 diamonds worth thousands of dollars found in the park, including the 40.2-carat diamond called Uncle Sam. 

You can even camp at the park where they have 47 campsites. Then, you can get up and search for diamonds again as soon as the sun comes up. They also have a waterpark for kids but no dogs are allowed. Afterward, take your canine companion to Sonic for a burger and some tots. They also have chicken, fries, and ice cream. 

The only dog park nearby is Love’s Travel Stop 277, which is pretty awesome. It has a fully fenced area with a small and large dog section, a waste station, and seating. 

Mountain Home

If you want to enjoy some lake activities with your dog, Mountain Home is a great choice for a vacation. It is right between Bull Shoals and Norfolk Lakes, two of the largest lakes in Arkansas. Although the city itself is small, with only 12,440 residents and an estimated 2,000 dogs, there is plenty to keep you busy on and around these two lakes. Between the two, there are more than 67,000 acres of water to explore. 

Bull Shoals is the largest of the two at 45,150 acres, stretching from Arkansas into Missouri. It is also home to Bull Shoals-White River State Park, which has over 730 acres with 100+ campsites, miles of trails, and awesome fishing, boating, and swimming opportunities. Norfolk Lake has 22,000 acres with 550 miles of shoreline, perfect for all activities. 

Make sure you take your pup to play off the leash at Keller Park Dog Park. They have a small dog section, shade, seating, water, and waste stations. There are even agility tunnels and ramps to teach your pup new skills.

Mount Magazine State Park 

Where do you go in Arkansas in the winter? Many people go to the top of Mount Magazine. It is the highest spot in the state at 2,753, so you know you can get some incredible views of the area. Getting up there is part of the fun, especially in the snow. Strap on some Nordic skis, dress your dog in layers, and head out to one of the trails in Mount Magazine State Park.

There are 12 trails in the park, from the easy one-mile Greenfield Trail to the strenuous 9.5 Cove Lake Trail. The one that many people say is best for cross-country skiing is Bear Hollow Trail, which is 2.8 miles long and moderately difficult. It connects to the  Huckleberry Mountain Multi-Use Trail, which has another 34 miles along an old wagon road. There is an awesome 200-foot vertical drop just past the horse camp! 

Speaking of camping, they have cabins with fireplaces and hot tubs that are dog-friendly if you want to stay at the park. If not, there are plenty of hotels in the area that welcome fur babies. 

The Final Woof

As you can see from this list, Arkansas has an abundance of dog-friendly places and things to do. There are also 2,400 vacation rentals, including 400 hotels that welcome dogs, 550 dog-friendly restaurants, 40+ dog parks, and hundreds of pup-popular hiking and biking trails. Speaking of trails, Hot Springs National Park has over 25 miles of hiking trails that are pup-friendly, and Ouachita National Forest has more than 300 miles. If you plan to vacation in the winter, Mount Magazine State Park has exceptional cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails to enjoy. Also, Hot Springs has everything you need for a family fun trip, including Magic Springs Amusement Park. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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