Lovely surroundings abounds at Prairie Creek Recreation Space


Outdoor writer and photographer Corbet Deary is regularly featured in The Sentinel-Record. Today, Deary takes readers on a journey to the Prairie Creek recreation area.

Those of us who live near Hot Springs are fortunate to live just minutes from one of the most beautiful and plentiful lakes in the entire state. And you can be sure I’m perfectly content frolicking around here in our backyards.

However, it is exciting to occasionally enter and experience new territory. Well, we also happen to be lucky in the sense that Arkansas also has its fair share of other reservoirs, a few that are just as scenic as what we’re used to here at home.

Well, coincidentally, we recently visited such a place. Beaver Lake is located in the northwest corner of Arkansas, surrounded by beautiful scenery. It also provides a medium for people to experience a plethora of fun activities.

Beaver Lake has 449 miles of shoreline and an excess of 28,000 acres of surface water during the normal pool. It gives scenery in abundance. In fact, those who spend a lot of time on the water can see a variety of tree species and flowering shrubs taking root on towering limestone cliffs.

Of course, the substrate below the water surface is comparable to what can be seen around the coast. Apart from that, the reservoir offers an optimal habitat for native game fish.

The body of water is a great fishing destination. It’s comparable to our lakes in the sense that anglers turn up in droves to try and coax their favorite species of fish into taking a bite.

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Of course, bass fishing is a popular activity, and rightly so. Largemouth bass are plentiful and respond to pretty much the same presentation that we’re used to here at home.

Bass fishing in the coming weeks will likely find themselves in the midst of the annual spawn. In return, one might consider levitating a worm manipulated insane style. And as the month progresses, retrieving a jerkbait across points will likely result in some success.

Soon after, the breaking action begins, providing the perfect opportunity to throw your favorite topwater presentation, and as the weeks go by, a soft plastic rigged in Texas will probably do the trick.

The lake also provides great spotted bass habitat. And what might prove to be an effective means of catching this particular species? Well, they hit pretty much the same baits as trout. But keep in mind that spotted perch seems to have a fondness for crawfish. That being said, find a habitat favored by these crustaceans and the spotted perch won’t be far behind.

Beaver Lake is different from the lakes here in our woodland in the sense that it’s also an impressive smallmouth bass fishery. This particular species of fish is a fierce fighter and might also be attracted to a habitat where crawfish can thrive.

Striped bass also swim within the shoreline and grow noticeably larger than the species mentioned above. In fact, it’s not uncommon for anglers to boot 30 and 40 pounders.

Stripers seem to prefer allis shad and other fish the most, although they are active year-round. They are easiest to find and catch when they break in the late spring and early summer months.

Of course, the reservoir also supports its share of Panfish. Bream fishermen should have their fair share of success with crickets, and crappie anglers tend to boat their favorite species with live minnows or small soft plastics.

Channel catfish also thrive in its waters. Of course, the greatest success is stretching the trout lines and laying out the noodles. However, you’re likely to catch a few from shore while soaking a nightcrawler or chicken livers.

Anglers congregate just below the dam to lure trout out of the frigid waters. And it’s not uncommon for their efforts to be rewarded with rainbow lines and German trout.

So what to do if fishing isn’t your thing? Well, coincidentally, the lake also offers enough options to keep the non-fisherman busy. Of course, one could always take a boat out and spend the day enjoying the beautiful scenery.

One would also guess that those focusing on the coasts are likely to see a range of plants making an appearance, particularly over the next few months when native plants are in bloom.

You are 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 the shallows and don’t be surprised if they happen to see an eagle hovering overhead.

I would guess Beaver Lake welcomes its share of folks who enjoy skiing and other water sports during the warmer months of the year. And of course, it’s a popular destination for those who see swimming as their preferred means of beating the heat on those sweltering summer days.

And where could one find a designated bathing spot? Well, it just so happens that there are several recreational areas along the coast, many of which are sports swimming areas.

Speaking of recreational areas, I’m going to go ahead and suggest that pretty much all of the designated places are worth mentioning. However, I can confidently suggest that the Prairie Creek Recreation Area is a destination that those with a passion for the great outdoors will enjoy.

In fact, Sandy and I stopped by the facility during our recent field trip to Northwest Arkansas. And we both agreed it was a place we wanted to return to.

Of course, the park caters to those who like day trips. In fact, this is a great destination where the family can break bread under the canopy of native trees and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying a pleasant outdoor environment.

In fact, the complex offers a playground for the little ones and an outdoor volleyball court for the slightly older but still young at heart. And if you want to get a little deeper into the forest, you might want to take a short detour onto the nature trail.

The recreation area also welcomes those who long for a longer stay surrounded by Mother Nature. In fact, there are 119 designated campgrounds, and each site provides visitors with a table, lamp post, ring of fire, and 30-amp electrical outlet.

Yes, Beaver Lake has something for everyone with a passion for the great outdoors. And Prairie Creek Recreation is the perfect base camp for those considering exploring this beautiful body of water in the Ozarks.

To get to Prairie Creek Recreation Area from Hot Springs, take Highway 270 West for approximately 63 miles and turn right onto Highway 71 toward Fort Smith. Stay on 71 for 55 miles and turn right to merge onto Interstate 540 towards Interstate 40.

Drive 12 miles and take Exit 1B to merge onto I-40 East toward Little Rock. Drive 4.6 miles and take Exit 12 to merge onto Interstate 49 North towards Fayetteville. Drive 95 km and take exit 78 Highway 264/West Monroe Avenue. Go 0.3 miles and keep right on Highway 264 towards Lowell. Drive 0.6 miles and turn left onto Bloomington Street. Drive 5.6 miles and turn right onto West Walnut Street. Go 0.5 miles and turn left onto North Second Street. Drive 0.3 miles and turn right onto East Locust. Go 0.4 miles and bear left on Prairie Creek Drive. Continue 5.3 km and turn left onto North Park Road. Go 0.7 miles and keep right on Prairie Creek Marina Drive. Walk 0.3 miles to the parking lot.

Prairie Creek Recreation Area is a great destination for those who long for a getaway surrounded by Mother Nature. – Photo by Corbet Deary from The Sentinel-Record