Jacksonport State Park Camping
Camp Arkansas: I’m talking with Mark Ballard today at Jacksonport State Park in Arkansas. How’s it going today, Mark?
Mark Ballard: It’s going well.
CA: Now, let’s just start with how long Jacksonport State Park has been there and how it got started.
Mark Ballard: Well, Jacksonport State Park was established in 1965, and it was the efforts of the Jackson County Historical Society. It restored our Courthouse that really made the effort to get this site established as a State Park at that time.
CA: Okay. And what are the most popular activities for people in the Park there?
Mark Ballard: Well, Jacksonport State Park is on the banks of the white river. We have a Courthouse Museum that tells the story about the Town of Jacksonport. Jacksonport was a steamboat town back in the 1800s, and so there’s a lot of rich history about steamboating and trade and travel on the white river that was very important to this area. And as a result, we tell that story here. Also, we have a campground of twenty campsite. Class A sites with water and electricity. We have a picnic area and pavilion, and a boatlaunch ramp here on the river, as well as a nature area with a half-mile walking trail. So, there are quite a bit of activities and things for folks to do when they do arrive at the Park.
CA: Okay. And is it just camping for RVs or can you tent there as well?
Mark Ballard: Camping is available for folks that are in tents. We have a bathhouse and shower facilities that are available for those folks as well as our RV campers. Again, we have water and electricity. Electricity up to fifty amps is available, so we will welcome all those types of campers.
CA: Okay. And if I were going to stay there for the weekend and I wanted to venture, say, outside of the Park for an afternoon, what are some attractions in the area I might want to check out?
Mark Ballard: Well, again, Jacksonport is on the white river. Locally, we have the Town of Newport, and the Town of Newport is a farming community. In the area, we have duck hunting if folks like to duck hunt. We get a lot of duck hunters in the late fall and winter. It’s big in this area. We’re also at the edge of the Ozark Mountains. We have area cities and neighboring counties that have various attractions. The museum up at a Batesville. We also have hiking. Geocaching is big in the area as well. And we have other State Parks. North of us we have Powhatan Courthouse State Park, Lake Charles, and some other parks that are located in the area. So, there’s a lot of activities within our area and region. There’s shopping in some of our various towns. There’s canoeing on the river system. There’s trout fishing up north of us. Cat fishing down in our area on the white river. So, there’s a lot of good, fun activities – outdoor experiences – that people can enjoy.
CA: Okay, and it sounds like that particular Park is just great for a history buff.
Mark Ballard: Absolutely. Jacksonport was an influential community, during the 1800s, with the steamboating industry. But as the Civil War developed in our country, it became an important port within Arkansas and the troops of the north or the south also occupied the town at various times. Troops from Jacksonport traveled out of the Jacksonport and fought in many of the battles across the south and northeast. Also, we have various other smaller stories about the area and the community that occurred during that time period. So, we tell a lot of stories about the time, and so folks can certainly enjoy if they are very interested in history. And those that aren’t interested in history can get a little bit of it and maybe it’ll spark their interest in learning more.
CA: Yeah, hopefully. Just two more questions for you, Mark. If you were going to spend just one hour in Jacksonport State Park, as someone who knows the park very well, how would you spend your time?
Mark Ballard: Well, I’d hike the trail. We have a display of wildflowers along the trail, and that would take, oh, probably thirty minutes. You could hike from the campground up toward the Courthouse area; and from there, I’d walk over to the Courthouse and tour the museum. That would give you an outdoor activity, to walk along the river and see the natural beauty, and then, at the same time, explore the history with the various monuments and the various exhibit panels in the courtyard as well touring the museum. And that can all be done within an hour, although if folks wanted to spend longer, they can certainly do so.
CA: Okay, perfect. And if you could spend just one night in Jacksonport State Park in Arkansas, which specific site would you stay and why?
Mark Ballard: We have a lot of great sites. I would select several sites, depending on their availability, but Site 13 is on the riverbank and it has shade, much like a lot of our sites. Probably about half of our sites are on the bank of the river. So, if you park your camper or set up your tent at the site, you can walk out your door and walk just a few feet and you can see the white river and fish off the bank, or enjoy the shade during the summer time or the fall. Leaves falling in the winter. So, it’s a good site. We have a bunch of other sites that are equally as nice, but that’s the site I’d probably select.
CA: Perfect. That sounds great. That’s the kind of inside info that we like to have at Camp-Arkansas.com. Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to chat with us about Jacksonport State Park in Arkansas, Mark.
Mark Ballard: I’ve enjoyed it and I encourage folks to come to Jacksonport and explore the opportunities and fun and the stories that we tell here.
CA: Great, thanks again.