Beautiful scenery abounds in Prairie Creek Recreation Area


Outdoor writer and photographer Corbet Deary is a regular feature on The Sentinel-Record. Today, Deary takes readers on a journey to Prairie Creek Recreation Area.

Those of us who live in the general vicinity of Hot Springs are lucky in that we live within minutes of one of the most beautiful and abundant lakes in the entire state. And you can be sure I’m perfectly content kicking around here in our backyards.

However, sometimes it is exciting to get started and discover new territories. Well, we also happen to be lucky in the sense that Arkansas also sports its fair share of other reservoirs, a few that are just as scenic as what we’re used to here at home.

Well, we happened to stop by and visit such a place recently. Located in the northwest corner of Arkansas, Beaver Lake is nestled amid beautiful scenery. It also provides a medium where people can experience a plethora of fun activities.

Beaver Lake sports 449 miles of shoreline and has an excess of 28,000 acres of surface water during the normal pool. It lends itself to landscapes galore. In fact, those who spend a lot of time on the water are likely to see a variety of tree species and flowering shrubs take root on towering limestone cliffs.

Of course, the substrate below the surface of the water is comparable to what can be seen around the shore. That being said, the reservoir provides optimal habitat for the development of native fish.

The body of water is an excellent fishing destination. It is comparable to the lakes in our area in that anglers turn up in droves to try and coax their favorite species of fish into biting.

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Of course, bass fishing is a popular activity, and with good reason. Largemouth bass are plentiful and will respond to much the same presentation we are used to casting here at home.

Those fishing for bass in the coming weeks may find themselves in the middle of the annual spawning season. In turn, one could consider floating a worm, wacky rigged. And as the month progresses, retrieving a jerkbait through the dots is likely to yield some success.

The breaking action will begin soon after, providing the perfect opportunity to kick off his favorite surface presentation, and as the weeks go by, a Texas-rigged soft plastic will likely suffice.

The lake also provides excellent habitat for spotted bass to thrive. And what could prove to be an effective way to catch this particular species? Well, they will hit pretty much the same lures as bigmouths. But keep in mind that spotted bass seems to have a sweet tooth for crawfish. That said, find a habitat preferred by these crustaceans and the spotted bass won’t be far behind.

Beaver Lake differs from the lakes here in our corner of the country in that it is also an impressive smallmouth bass fishery. This particular species of fish is a fierce fighter and might also gravitate toward habitat where crayfish are likely to thrive.

Striped bass can also swim around shoreline perimeters and grow significantly larger than the aforementioned species. In fact, it is not uncommon for anglers to use 30 and 40 pound boats.

Stripers seem to prefer shad and other fish, although they are active in all seasons. They are easier to locate and catch when they break in late spring and early summer.

Of course, the tank also supports its share of panfish. Bream anglers should experience their fair share of success with crickets, and crappie anglers are likely to sail their favorite species with live minnows or small soft plastics.

Channel catfish also thrive in its waters. Of course, these trout line stretches and noodle preparation are likely to be the most successful. However, one is likely to catch a few on the shore while dipping a night worm or chicken livers.

Anglers congregate just below the dam with the intention of coaxing cold water trout. And it’s not uncommon for their efforts to be rewarded with stringers of rainbows and German trout.

So what if fishing isn’t your thing? Well, it turns out that the lake also offers plenty of opportunities to keep non-fishermen occupied. Of course, you could always go by boat and spend the day admiring the beautiful scenery.

One might also suspect that those focusing on the shores are likely to see an array of flora popping up, especially over the next few months when native plants bloom.

One is also likely to see native creatures going about their daily rituals. Deer are plentiful in the area, as are other mammals native to our state. Of course, waders will feed in shallow water, and don’t be surprised if they see an eagle soaring overhead.

I suspect that Beaver Lake hosts its share of people who enjoy skiing and other water sports throughout the warmer months of the year. And, of course, it’s a popular destination for those who consider swimming their favorite way to beat the heat on those hot summer days.

And where can we find a designated bathing site? Well, it turns out that several recreational areas are located along the shore, including a lot of sports swimming areas.

Speaking of recreation areas, I’m going to take a risk and suggest that virtually every designated site is worth mentioning. However, I can confidently suggest that the Prairie Creek Recreation Area is a destination outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy.

In fact, Sandy and I stopped at the property on our last trip to northwest Arkansas. And we both agreed that this was a place we planned to come back to.

Of course, the park caters to those who like day trips. In fact, it’s an ideal destination where the family can break bread under the canopy of native trees and spend the rest of the afternoon savoring the pleasant outdoor surroundings.

In fact, the facility sports a playground for the young ones and an outdoor volleyball court for those who are a bit older, but still young at heart. And those who aspire to go a little deeper into the forest may prefer a short stroll along the interpretive trail.

The recreation area also welcomes those who yearn for an extended stay in the midst of Mother Nature. In fact, there are 119 designated campsites, and each site offers visitors a table, lantern pole, fire ring, and 30-amp electrical service.

Yes, Beaver Lake has a little something for almost any outdoor enthusiast. And Prairie Creek Recreation is the perfect base camp for those planning to get a better feel for this beautiful body of water that hides in the Ozarks.

To get to Prairie Creek Recreation Area from Hot Springs, take Highway 270 west about 100 miles and turn right on Highway 71 toward Fort Smith. Stay on 71 for 55 miles and turn right to merge onto Interstate 540, to Interstate 40.

Travel 12 miles and take Exit 1B to merge onto I-40 East, toward Little Rock. Travel 4.6 miles and take Exit 12 to merge onto Interstate 49 North, toward Fayetteville. Drive 95 km and take exit 78 from Hwy 264/West Monroe Avenue. Travel 0.3 miles and stay right on Hwy 264 toward Lowell. Drive 1 km and turn left onto Bloomington Street. Travel 5.6 miles and turn right onto West Walnut Street. Go half a mile and turn left onto North Second Street. Go 0.3 mile and turn right on East Locust. Go 0.4 mile and stay left on Prairie Creek Drive. Travel another 3.3 miles and turn left onto North Park Road. Go 0.7 miles and stay right on Prairie Creek Marina Drive. Go 0.3 miles to the parking area.

Prairie Creek Recreation Area is a great destination for those longing for an outing in the midst of Mother Nature. – Photo by Corbet Deary from The Sentinel-Record

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