Through a special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, Arkansas State Parks is developing Mississippi River State Park, a 550 acre park within the St. Francis National Forest.
The park visitor center is on Ark. 44 three miles southeast of Marianna at Bear Creek Lake. This information and education facility is staffed by both Arkansas State Parks and U.S. Forest Service employees to serve as information and interpretive center for the state park and the surrounding St. Francis National Forest. The discovery based and interactive exhibit gallery will connect you to the natural, cultural and historic resources of Mississippi River State Park and the St. Francis National Forest. For details about the visitor center, visit: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/news/display.aspx?id=2366.
Campers should register at the visitor center before occupying a campsite. The center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For campers who arrive after hours, there are self-pay stations located at the campgrounds. Make campsite reservations by calling the park office at: 870-295-4040.
Bear Creek Lake Recreation area, features Beechpoint campground with 17 campsites [14 Class AAA with water/electric/sewer hookups and three Class D Walk-in Tent Sites]. Each paved site includes an adjacent, extended hardened living area with picnic table, grill, lantern hanger, and tent pad. Nearby are picnic areas, a swim beach, boat ramp, and hiking trail. In a separate location on the lake, the park’s Lone Pine Campground offers 14 Primitive RV/Tent Sites (no hookups) and vault toilets nearby.
The renovations at Bear Creek are Phase I of a three-phased process to develop the new Mississippi River State Park at several different sites within the national forest. Major locations where state park facilities will be developed following the Bear Creek Lake Recreation Area include the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi rivers and the Storm Creek Lake Recreation Area. The 550-acre state park will encompass approximately 2.4 percent of the forest’s total 22,600-acres, forest lands that stretch along Crowley’s Ridge and border the Mississippi River. The state park areas will serve as recreation sites within the forest while the Forest Service will continue managing the forest and its resources. The St. Francis is the only national forest that touches the Mississippi River.