Bismarck lies halfway between Hot Springs and Caddo Valley in southwest Arkansas. It’s a small, rural community that supports several local businesses, as well as tourism. The town is fortunate to have DeGray Lake within its borders, providing access to boating, hiking and other dog-friendly outdoor activities that will keep you and your fur-baby busy while you’re here. The community also hosts 2 animal hospitals in the event your pooch becomes ill or injured while in the area, with several more available in Hot Springs, about 16 miles away.
Probably the best-known attraction in Bismarck is the DeGray Lake Resort State Park, a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Located on an island that is accessible by a causeway, the resort park lies in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, and offers spectacular views of the mountains from several spots. While it boasts a 96-room lodge and a campground for those who want to stay, the park is also the perfect place to take your leashed fur-pup for a day of adventure and fun in the outdoors. It also features 6 hiking trails and a paved path around the perimeter of the resort for exploring. Rich in wildlife and birds, the pawsome trails will entice Fido with their sights, smells and sounds, and guided hikes are available if you want to learn more about what you’re seeing. This is a pawrrific place for adventure and relaxation!Whatever your reason for being in Bismarck, you’re sure to find woofderful things to do and see with your furry friend!
For hiking aficionados and their canine companions, Bismarck offers opportunities galore! The dog-friendly Arlie Moore Interpretive Trail is one such opportunity, located at the Recreation Center that shares its name. This is a double loop trail that begins at Arlie Moore Rd and meanders through a pine forest that offers a sense of other-worldliness and seclusion. Looping toward the Lake, it courses in and around coves. Rangers are available to give interpretive walks pointing out the wildlife and plants you and your leashed pooch will see. About 2 miles long, the trail provides an easy stroll that features barktiful lake views and pawsome birding opportunities.
Caddo Gap is a small, rural town just to the northwest of Bismarck, and home to a 809-acre portion of the Ouachita National Forest, which totals 1.8 million acres. The Caddo Gap portion is fortunate to house 3 dog-friendly trails with water crossings, waterfalls and springs among the thick canopy of trees and many shrubs and wildflowers. Eagle Rock Loop is difficult in some places because of the water crossings and elevation, but Little Missouri and Winding Stairs Trails are only moderately difficult, with winding, less steep paths. Winding Stairs Trail is long, about 5 miles, and is an out-and-back route featuring a waterfall. There are pawsome camping spots along the way, and impressive rock formations and swimming spots. Little Missouri is an even longer, a 12-mile out-and-back trail with its own waterfall as well, and is part of he Eagle Rock loop trail. Breathtaking views of the cascading falls and abundant wildlife will make this trail a favorite for you and your furry bestie!
This neighborhood of Hot Springs features branches of the Ouachita River that flow together and form a lake and ponds. On a peninsula reaching into the northeast branch lies Garvan Woodland Gardens, the botanical garden of the University of Arkansas. The gardens are dog-friendly (on leash) and feature beautiful and delicate woodland flowers and plants under a protective canopy of pine forest. At the northwest side of the garden is 4.5 miles of river shoreline, bordered by the forest and rocky outcroppings. The many paths that crisscross the gardens afford you and Fido pawsome walks and wildlife observation opportunities. The Chipmunk Café welcomes you at its outdoor patio, or just take along a picnic lunch and have a seat in this serene, peaceful setting. Woofderful!
This neighborhood of Hot Springs is home to the Hot Springs Bark Park, a fully-fenced, off-leash puppy playground. Featuring comfy benches for the humans to relax and socialize, the pups get a mulched surface and agility equipment to play on while they socialize with the other pups. Drinking water and buckets are provided, too, along with waste bags and receptacles. Double-gated for safety, this is a pawrrific place to bring your fur-pup for exercise and play! When he’s all tuckered out and hungry, take him over to Rod’s Pizza Cellar where outdoor tables await you and your furry lunch date, and where you’ll find a variety of doggolicious pizzas, along with salads, sandwiches, pasta and desserts. Bone appetit!