As a light mist fell over Arkansas early one recent morning, the Senior Adult Ministry from First Baptist Church made its way to DeGray Lake Resort State Park, the state’s only resort state park.
Set in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains and along the north shore of 13,800-acre DeGray Lake, the park offers all the outdoor adventure and quality of an Arkansas State park combined with resort class amenities.
The park’s dominant facility, DeGray Lake Resort State Park, sits on its own island and offers guests spectacular views of the distant mountains and DeGray Lake itself. One can enjoy a view of the lake while dining in the Shoreline Restaurant. The restaurant offers a full menu.
The history of the DeGray area dates back to AD 700 when the area was inhabited by the Caddo Indians. Hernando de Soto then came and explored this area in 1541, after discovering hot springs. The Caddo Indians’ way of life was changed forever when coming in contact with the Spanish explorers; the Indians were introduced to the horse. In the 18th century, French fur trappers brought trade to the area with their extensive trapping methods. DeGray Lake was in fact named after a French fur trader, DeGraff, who settled this region. Several artifacts have been found near the dam site, and many have been brought to a local university, Henderson State University.
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was constructing DeGray Lake (1963-1972) by damming the Caddo River, support grew within the State Parks Division and surrounding communities for developing along the lake a state park to rival resort state parks in neighboring Oklahoma and Texas.
The Corps and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism reached an agreement in 1971 for the construction and management of a resort and recreation area on the lake’s north shore. In 1972, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism leased from the Corps a park site totaling about 1,000 acres. By 1975, an 18-hole golf course, marina, campsites and a lodge had been built. The lodge was privately managed from 1975 to 1985, when Arkansas State Parks assumed operation. By 2002, the one-eighth-cent Amendment 75 Conservation Tax financed more than $10 million in park projects, including the refurbishing of the 96-room lodge and improvements to the park’s conference center, golf course, marina, day-use area, campground showers and water system.
Those making the trip were the driver, James House, the organizer of the SAMS, Jeanette McGrew, Marie Arnold, Linda Eifling, Catherine Long, Grace McKnight, Jimmie Lee Nichols and Wanda Scuggs.