Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
Lake Ouachita is a popular spot for wakeboarding and other water sports because it's often less crowded with calmer water.

Thermal springs aren’t the only famous water in this resort town. The city is also regarded as a recreational hot spot thanks to three lakes on Hot Springs’ southern and western edges.

Lake Ouachita, Lake Hamilton and Lake Catherine were created by dams on the Ouachita River primarily for hydroelectric purposes. Today, the lakes attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year for boating, fishing, camping, hiking and nature watching.

Lake Catherine includes Lake Catherine State Park, which features boat rentals, tours, guided horseback trail rides and guided hikes, as well as a pavilion, camping area and visitor center. The 1,900-acre lake is one of Arkansas' smallest with only 11 miles of shoreline. That makes real estate around this lake hard to come by.

Lake Catherine is one of Arkansas' smallest lakes with only 11 miles of shoreline.

The state park is known for the Falls Creek Falls waterfall, a reward for hikers exploring the Falls Branch Trail. Below the dam, there is great rainbow trout fishing, and kayaking is popular across this peaceful lake.

Completed in the 1950s, Lake Ouachita is the newest lake, and at 40,000 acres, it’s also the largest man-made lake in Arkansas. Known for its clarity, Lake Ouachita is a great spot for scuba diving. Divers can explore water that now covers valleys and ridges of the Ouachita Mountains. Fishing enthusiasts are fond of Lake Ouachita, too; its waters are filled with bream, crappie, catfish, striped bass and largemouth bass.

The lake is connected to Lake Ouachita State Park, which offers camping, cabin and boat rentals, and wilderness trails. Several privately owned resorts dot the shoreline, including a visitor favorite, Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa.

Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Lake Ouachita is one of Arkansas' most pristine shorelines at some 970 miles. Camping, scuba diving and fishing are very popular on this lake.

Lake Hamilton is the busiest of the three lakes. Its shores are dotted with homes, rentals, marinas and restaurants. Vacation home sales are booming here, fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and the regional population looking for alternative travel plans.

Watersports abound here too. On any given lake-weather day, you’re sure to find boats anchored in swimming coves, families taking leisurely cruises, children tubing, wakeboarders showing off and fast-charging jet skis racing playfully.

In the summer, visitors flock by boat to the lake’s annual Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend firework shows.

Also on Lake Hamilton, there’s a dock at Garvan Woodland Gardens for visitors wanting to come see the city's famous attraction by boat.

The Lake District is also known for its fun assortment of restaurants, like Back Porch Grill, JB ChopHouse, Italian Villa, The Lodge Restaurant at Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa and nighttime cocktails and fun at Martini's on the Bay.

Tucked serenely away from bustling Bathhouse Row on Lake Ouachita, Turtle Cove Spa offers a tranquil, lakeside spa experience like none other in Hot Springs.

Nestled on the Mountain Harbor Resort property, this tranquil spa offers a unique array of treatments and therapies. Try the Crystal Energy Balance or the Sound Therapy with scalp, hand and foot massage for holistic pampering. Guests love enjoying a spa lunch overlooking the water after an oxygen facial, honey body therapy, or one of the many classic spa services. Turtle Cove is a true zen hideaway in the Lake District.

Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
At 7,460 acres, Lake Hamilton is one of Arkansas' most popular recreational and residential lakes.

Come by boat or car to enjoy Fisherman's Wharf on Lake Hamilton.

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
Vacation homes and rentals line the shores of bustling Lake Hamilton.

Vacation Rental Haven

The Lake District draws repeat visitors year after year for summers on one of the pristine lakes. Lake Hamilton, in particular, is lined with vacation home rentals. Since the pandemic began in spring 2020, vacation home sales here have soared, as has tourism in general.

Cool new Airbnb and VRBO rentals, as well as other homes offered through local property management companies, are making a splash with visitors, including houses built for big parties, reunions and summer-long stays.


Great water doesn’t end with Bathhouse Row. Here’s a selection of free boat ramps for spending the day on one of Spa City’s three beautiful lakes.

Lake Catherine

  • Ramp accessible off Arkansas Highway 171 on the lake’s north side near the marina

Lake Hamilton

  • Sunnybrook Landing
    560 Lakepark Drive
  • Hulsey Fish Hatchery Ramp
    350 Fish Hatchery Road
  • Hill Wheatley Park
    688 Majestic Lodge Road
  • Carpenter Dam Park
    301 Powerhouse Lane

Lake Ouachita

  • Two boat ramps accessible via Lake Ouachita State Park on Arkansas Highway 227


Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism

Hot Springs has long been a quality fishing destination for both residents and visitors, and the city is ideal for hosting big league fishing tournaments. The city is home to three beautiful lakes—Hamilton, Catherine and Ouachita—that rank nationally for their amazing fishing opportunities.

From June 2 to 4, Hot Springs will host the 39th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American, a major league tournament that will bring in anglers from all over the nation to compete for a $120,000 prize. This marks the sixth time the All-American has taken place in Hot Springs, this time on Lake Hamilton.

Tournaments like this stimulate the city’s economy and increase tourism, showing the entire country what Hot Springs has to offer avid fishers.


Back Porch Grill
Italian Villa
JB ChopHouse
The Lodge Restaurant at Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa

Martini's on the Bay

Garvan Woodland Gardens
Hot Springs Marina
Iron Mountain Fishing Guide John Duncan
Iron Mountain Lodge & Marina
Iron Mountain Lodge & Marina - Mountain Bike Trail System
Mid-America Science Museum
Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa
Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa - Premier Lake Ouachita Fishing Guides Chris Darby, Mike Wurm
Mountain Harbor Riding Stable
Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf

Iron Mountain Lodge & Marina
Lookout Point Lakeside Inn
Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa
Red Oak Ridge

Garvan Woodland Gardens
Mid-America Science Museum Store

Turtle Cove Spa

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism
Lake Catherine State Park cabins