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Easy Epics: 17 Drive-up Campsites a Backpacker Will Love

Combine the best of car camping (spacious tents, comfy chairs, frosty margaritas!) and the best of backpacking (deep solitude, outrageous scenery, swimming holes!) with these 17 accessible hideaways.

Ozark National Forest
Forest Road 1205

Get a front row seat to Arkansas’ finest falls.

The official-sounding “Richland Creek Campground” evokes visions of numbered sites and a host selling bundles of firewood. What you’ll really find: an inviting hodgepodge of free, first-come, creekside campsites next to a trailhead leading to a clutch of the state’s most spectacular falls and swimming holes. But you’ll have to fight temptation to make it this far. Forest Road 1205 (aka Falling Water Road) is packed with secluded enclaves beneath the lush oak and longleaf pine canopy—you won’t be unhappy if you succumb too soon, but we recommend you hold out for Richland Creek. Either way, be sure to take a three-mile unmarked trek (with occasional scrambling over smooth, living room-size boulders) to the confluence of Devil’s Fork Creek and Richland Creek. Twin Falls’ side-by-side, 25-foot cascades lie 2.5 miles in. Richland Falls is another 400 yards upstream. It drops just six feet, but it’s 40 wide. Find wadeable and swimmable pools along the trail.

Get there
From Russellville, take AR 7 37 miles north to Pelsor. Turn right on AR 16, and go 10 miles to a left on FR 1205 (gravel). It’s nine miles north to Richland Creek.
UTM 15S 0505572E 3956531N
Map USGS Quads Smyrna, Moore ($8 each, store.usgs.gov)
Contact fs.usda.gov/osfnf; (479) 964-7200

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