Monday, March 25, 2019

Crystal Springs Campground

Well, I tried to get finished with this blog before getting back to the ranch in Missouri, but it just didn't happen. We are now at the ranch and it always amazes us how fast we get back into the swing of "normal" life.

We left Chimin-A-Haut SP in Louisiana on February 25. We made the 180 mile drive north through Fordyce, Arkansas to Crystal Springs Campground. You may ask, "Why did he mention, Fordyce, Arkansas?". Well, Fordyce is the birthplace of the famous football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. We actually drove right by the house he was born in just south of town. He is one of my favorite coaches in the history of college football.

Crystal Springs Campground is a COE park on the shore of Lake Ouachita. We had never been to this lake before, but had heard that it is beautiful. Well, let me tell you, "they" were right. It is the 3rd cleanest lake in the US and it is absolutely beautiful. The water is crystal clear and it is surrounded by large hills and cliffs. It also has over 100 uninhabited islands that you can explore. The lake is over 40 miles long. Crystal Springs is in a large cove that is on the south side of the lake. This COE park was only $22 per night with W/E and they have many sites that are FC/FS. We like that. We had good Verizon Cell coverage, but no OTA TV. None, Zero, Nada!

Campsite #47 at Crystal Springs Campground. We loved it!
We had an almost empty campground and we think we had the best site. We were surrounded on three sides by water. The only noise we heard were the fisherman leaving the nearby boat ramp in the morning and returning in the evening. The lake was quiet and calm much of the time we were there.

We had a nice sunset the first night we were at Crystal Springs
The second day we were there we decided we were going to stay 10 nights. We wanted to get by some nasty weather that was coming our way. The winter "bomb" was going to bring our first below freezing temperatures to us this winter. We decided to take advantage of the last warm day and go for a paddle around our cove. We ended up paddling almost 5 miles and had an awesome time. We got some great views of a Bald Eagle. It just waited for us to finish taking pictures before flying off.

Just cruising along in the calm water
Best shot I could get with my phone of this majestic Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle taking flight
We really enjoyed our time cruising around the lake. We have used our boat a number of times on this trip and are so glad that we did. We love the water and it makes it so much better if we can get out on it.

Much of my time at Crystal Springs was spent hiking on the many trails that lead out of the campground. They all go up, but at least you finish your hike downhill.

We went to visit one of the marinas to see about bringing our sailboat down here and were told to go visit the "overlook". It was a 2 mile drive on a gravel road, but it was worth it. The views were amazing of this awesome lake.

Lake Ouachita, pronounced Wash i ta

We also wanted to add to our National Park list while we were very near Hot Springs NP. We have been at this park before, but we wanted to add it to the list of the parks we had been to since we started traveling in 2014. Hot Springs is not like many of the other National Parks we have been to and loved the natural beauty. It is more of a historical park. The area was used by first Native Americans and then early settlers as a place to soak in the hot water that were thought to have healing powers. The thought of the bath houses seems a bit strange to us, but we toured the house that is part of the NP visitor center and watched the movie. We then took a hike up the steep hillside, just like the activity that was prescribed by the many doctors that treated patients with hot baths and strenuous exercise.

Buckstaff is still operating as a bath house.

Veterans Care Center, high on a hill

Beautiful Stained Glass

Ornate decorations in the mens bath area. The womens bat area was not as ornate.

Kim by one of the original hot springs.
The cold front came as predicted and we had to disconnect water and hunker down. The lowest temperature we saw was 22 degrees. Not bad, for the coldest for the year. After the temperatures returned to normal, we hitched up and headed to the same place we started this trip 4 and a half months ago, Old Post Park in Russellville, AR. We had an awesome time in Russellville and I will write all about it in my last entry of this trip.


  1. I guess you did not have to FC/FS part, dont you just love it when you have a park to yourself?!?!? That is one of the top 10 bass fishing lakes in the country, would love to get there sometime!

    1. I think that was my favorite campground experience on this trip. I did not know about the bass fishing, but should have. I saw a number of pro fishermen trucks and trailers at the ramp.