When I make mention to family and friends about going to the lake for the weekend it conjures up a lot of different responses. One wants to camp out, one wants to ride the jet skis, and another just wants to sunbath on the deck of a party barge watching all the boats go by. Beaver Lake is over 28,000 acres and has 487 miles of shore line. It’s surrounded by the Ozark Mountains and supplied by the White River. The difficulty is narrowing the activities down to only ten!
1. Boating and Sailing – Sometimes I see some unexpected sights on the lake, like a group of kayaks skimming along in formation reminding me of a rowing team in perfect synchronization. On any beautifully warm summer day there are ski boats and fishing boats, sailboats and canoes, a yacht or two and plenty of party barges. Beaver Lake is long and wide enough for all to exist there in happy harmony. If you’re interested in boat rentals, Lost Bridge Marina and Hickory Creek Marina can help you out.
2. Water Sports – There are some special spots on the lake that draw in all the water sport fanatics. Jet skiing, inner tubing, and sometimes a barefoot skier or a parasailer. This is a favorite pasttime for many of the athletes and students from the U of A.
3. Fishing and Tournaments – Every neighborhood in NWA has an avid fisherman because Beaver Lake is constantly calling them out into the clear waters that are full of every kind of bass; spotted, striped, largemouth, smallmouth and white. I always stand ready to fry up that “mess o’ fish” the fisherman brings by to me. I have a go-to southern recipe for coating fish to be deep-fried. For the competitive sportsman there are several nationally renown fishing tournaments annually and with big money awards and prizes!
Bill Carson’s Bass Fishfry Mix
For two cups of cornmeal add 1 tsp. each of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, lemon pepper and Tony Cachere’s Cajun Seasoning. Put rinsed fish filets in a zip lock bag, add dry ingredients and shake until coated. Drop into the deep fryer until golden brown, drain on paper towels and add a little more Cajun seasoning to taste. I’ve always loved this recipe because it didn’t require dipping in egg or soaking in buttermilk, totally non-messy and so light.
4. Cabin Rentals – I am sitting by a big stone fireplace, listening to the crackling fire. I can hear the whippoorwill singing his night songs as the water gently brushes up on the shore. This is retreat. And you can rent a cabin here during all seasons of the year. It’s mesmerizing and soul-refreshing. And the perk…just a few miles from civilization. You can imagine that Henry David Thoreau or Robert Frost were inspired in this very place.
5. Campgrounds– Okay! Now we are to the one that should be booked in everyone’s childhood memories. Whether pitching a tent or parking the RV there are plenty of campgrounds to set up your family fun. Was it your turn to get the rocks and stones to arrange for the fire pit? Who went to get the pine cones and dried twigs to start the fire? And hopefully someone was assigned to unpacking the treasures of marshmallow/grahams/Hershey bars for those gooey treats that were as much fun to make as they were to eat. I’m going to make one in the fireplace tonight and then go book a weekend camp space.
6. Hiking/Walking Trails– Weekly someone asks me, “Where are some family friendly hiking trails in this area?” It’s great to be able to direct them to any number of the 7 easy to moderate trails around Beaver Lake. Some as short as a 1/3 of a mile or a longer hike up to 6 miles. All of them are maintained as part of the Ozark National Forest. The beauty in the Ozark forest and viewing the lake from numerous overlooks makes this a duo-adventure. You most likely will see a bald eagle somewhere along the trail.
7. Mountain Biking -Oak Ridge Trail at the Bull Shoals Area of the lake has two levels of difficulty for a choice of easy or difficult. If you love to ride a bicycle and are looking for a new adventure, you can rent a mountain bike at Camper Registration Center. Bring your own helmet.
8 Swimming and Picnicking – Sometimes you just need to park the lawnmower, drop the laundry baskets and head out for a day of sun, laughs, and a picnic of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and fruit punch. Beaver Lake has several of these perfect day of fun swimming beaches. Grab your picnic basket and sunscreen.
9. Scuba Diving – Lost Bridge Marina Area is a popular spot for all the local diving enthusiasts. Some of the area scuba instructors bring their students here for a full run of skills towards certification.
10. Lake View Dining – JJ’s Grill is a casual establishment open seasonally with live band entertainment at Rogers-Prairie Creek Area. The Horizon at Eureka Springs-Honey Creek Area is open all year with an amazing view from every table. Rowdy or romantic? What mood are you in this weekend? Oh. Both.
If you’re a native Arkansan trying to think of something to do, I hope this post inspires you. If you’re visiting Northwest Arkansas, playing on the lake is great entertainment. If you’re relocating to NWArk, I hope this post helps you get acquainted with our corner of The Natural State. Arkansas lakes are beautiful and unlike any other state.