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Lake Fort Smith

Lake Fort Smith is located along I-540 in the Boston Mountains of the Ozark National Forest between Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas. In 2006, Lake Fort Smith and adjoining Lake Shepherd Springs were consolidated to meet Fort Smith's increasing demands for municipal water. Now, this lake extends over 1,390 surface acres, providing more room for water recreation as well.

Because of the expansion, the state park located at this lake and the lake itself was closed to boaters and anglers in 2002 and reopened in 2008 with all new facilities at the park. The previous state park, originally developed in the late 1930s, now is under water. The City of Fort Smith and the Arkansas State Parks system paid for the park's new amenities and additional features. In the near future, a trail link will allow this park to serve as the western terminus of the Ozark Highlands Trail.


Since the lake was closed for six years between 2002 and 2008, the fish had some time to propagate. Since 2008, anglers have snatched up lunker bass, crappie, pan fish, and catfish -- with the catfish being in the 20-25 pound range.


  Search Lake Fort Smith Resources
    Lake Fort Smith Arkansas Coordinates:
35.6434N -94.1335W
Map It:
Lake Type:
Surface Area:
1,390 acres
Maximum Depth:
25+ ft
1,424 ft
Normal Water Clarity:
3 ft
Major City:
Fort Smith
Fort Smith


Since this lake supplies municipal water to Fort Smith, the Arkansas health department does not allow swimming, skiing, or the use of personal water craft on this lake. However, there are no motor restrictions for boats. The state park marina rents boats, including canoes, kayaks, and a party barge. The marina offers everything -- bait, food, ice, drinks -- but no retail gas sales at the moment. The two-lane boat ramp at the marina is free to use.


Lake Fort Smith State Park provides all the modern amenities any camper might need for a great weekend at the lake. Located on the western shores of Lake Fort Smith, this park provides ten fully-equipped cabins with ten more near completion, camp sites, two group lodges with kitchenettes that can hold up to 32 people, a double-lane boat ramp, hiking trails, a 2,660-square-foot swimming pool, and a playground. The 8,000-square-foot visitors' center offers a wonderful lake view along with a wood-burning fireplace.

Devil's Den State Park across I-540 about 25 miles west of the lake. This park offers 143 camp sites, some with hookups, and eight hike-in (tent only) sites, as well as 42 sites with full hookups in a horse camp that includes access to horse trails. Other accommodations, such as hotels, motels, and inns, can be found along I-540 in and between Fayetteville and Fort Smith.

Review the Lake Resource Guide for additional lodging.


Lake Fort Smith is located entirely in Crawford County, Arkansas in the Boston Mountains of the Ozark National Forest. The lake is located just 32 miles north of Fort Smith along I-540. It also is located just 35 miles south of Fayetteville along the same Interstate, so visitors have a choice of driving or flying into either town to gain access to the lake. Visitors also can find groceries, gas, and other amenities at Mountainburg, a small town located just eight miles south of the lake on I-540 or U.S. Highway 71. Both routes are part of what is known as the Boston Mountains Scenic Loop.

Fun times at Lake Fort Smith  Lake Fort Smith

Lake Fort Smith  Lake Fort Smith

Average Temperatures Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High  50 Avg. High  55 Avg. High  63 Avg. High  72 Avg. High  79 Avg. High  86 Avg. High  92 Avg. High  92 Avg. High  84 Avg. High  73 Avg. High  61 Avg. High  51
Avg. Low  25 Avg. Low  29 Avg. Low  36 Avg. Low  45 Avg. Low  55 Avg. Low  63 Avg. Low  67 Avg. Low  65 Avg. Low  57 Avg. Low  46 Avg. Low  36 Avg. Low  27