The picturesque Mississippi River State Park is located at 2677 Arkansas 44 just a few miles southeast of Marianna, Arkansas. It is in the St. Francis National Forest in eastern Arkansas. The park is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east. Plans were made for the park by efforts of the staff of Arkansas State Parks and the USDA Forest Service. After many years of collaboration and work the 550-acre Mississippi River State Park opened on May 1, 2009. Expansion and improvements to the park extended into 2010.
There is no cost to enter the park. As you enter you will immediately see the 9,658 square foot visitor information and educational center with its 2,550 square foot multi-purpose building. Any questions you may have can be answered here. Inside the visitor center you will find a large exhibit gallery that is interactive and interprets Crowley’s Ridge, the Mississippi River and the Delta. The visitor center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are to stop here to register before going to their campsite. If it is after hours when you arrive at the park there are stations set up at the campgrounds where you can self-pay for your stay. If you would like, you can make reservations by calling the park office in advance of your arrival.
Mississippi River State Park has three campgrounds that are located along Bear Creek Lake. The campsites are in a wooded area and have dump stations for you to easily dispose of your trash. Beech Point Campground has sites for tents and RV’s. The RV sites are paved and have an extended living area where you will find a picnic table, lantern hanger, grill and tent pad. There are hookups for water, electric and sewer at these campsites. There is also a centrally located bathhouse available that is barrier-free. The rental fee, as of 2013, for an RV site is $32 per night and a tent campsite is $13 per night.
Lone Pine Campground offers primitive tent sites that are on gravel rather than pavement. There are no water, electric or sewer hookups, but there are vault toilets close by, and each site has a fire ring, picnic table, grill and a lantern hook. The rental fee for a tent site is $6 per night as of 2013.
Maple Flats Campground is for group camping. It no hookups available, but there are vault toilets nearby. Rates and reservations for group camping can be ascertained by calling the park office.
The park has day-use areas, that are just across from the campgrounds, where you will find the Beaver Point Picnic Area. This is an area with tables, grills, a swim beach and boat ramps. Everything is available for use by the public and is free of charge.
Bear Creek Lake is a favorite fishing spot for many and the park does not charge a fee for fishing. Some of the fish that can be caught here are largemouth bass, crappie, redear sunfish known as shellcrackers and channel catfish.
The Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail is found in the day-use area of Mississippi River State Park. The hiking trail winds and loops around the forest of Crowley’s Ridge for one mile. It is not a difficult trail to hike so it’s excellent for people of all skill levels and ages. Here, and throughout the entire park, you will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of birds and other wildlife such as deer, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, otters, beavers, alligators, ducks, bald eagles and more.
Mississippi River State Park won the 2011-2012 Region 3 Park of the Year Award by Arkansas State Parks. The park is outstanding in many ways. It is well-maintenance, the staff show wonderful hospitality and their interpretive program is an extremely excellent one.