Crowded Campgrounds aside state parks are great

Many of us will be hitting roads to get out of town this Fourth of July holiday. A great place to get away and do it fairly cheaply is to visit your state parks. Here in Arkansas we have quite a few.

Just a few miles out of Jonesboro is historic Crowley's Ridge State Park. It's a great place to camp but you better have reservations. Nearly all the camping sites are full at the park.  Those that aren't occupied soon will be.

Heather Runyan, Park Interpreter says, "We are fairly busy this year. A lot of times it gets so hot on the 4th of July that people aren't real sure about camping. But this year it seems that more people are staying closer to home. Going ahead and getting out the tents and campers, so we've got a pretty good crowd in the campground. "

Heather says they have a few tent sites left including a limited number of overflow sites. Ronald Higgins and his brother Hughie were setting up a trailer for their mom who was coming later. Higgins says she is a lifelong lover of Crowley ridge, "She has been coming out here since she was 11 years old. Plus my great grandpa was out here before it become a park. I guess he was one that helped build it. "

Higgins said his mom knows most of the workers and she feels like she is really out in the woods, in spite of the parks location.

"You think you're out in the middle of the woods like back in the old western days but like you said you got a store 3 and a half mile from hear. Town 6 miles from here and there is lots to do at the park.

For starters, A DJ at the beach on Saturday and lots more. Runyan, "Saturday evening we're going to be talking about owls and we're going to go out on what's called an owl prowl where we actually use sounds to try to get the owls to call back to us. "

Plus a full slate of stuff on Sunday including a chance for swimmers to learn water rescue techniques.

If you're not into camping and it's too hot to walk the nature trails. How about swimming? The park has got a great swimming hole.

As Runyan says, "We do have the beach which has lifeguards on it. Open on the weekdays from noon to 6 and weekends from noon to 7. We have the snack bar down there if you want to grab a bite to eat, or some ice cream. And then of course the paddle boats, which are always a big hit with the kids.

There is a cost to swim and rent the boats but it is quite reasonable. There's lots to do, stay close to home but still enjoy the woods and you don't have to spend a lot of money.

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