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When to visit Arkansas

by SmarterTravel Staff

Arkansas has a temperate climate with four seasons. Summer is the most popular time for people to visit the lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains; but special events, games, and holidays attract crowds throughout the year. The spring and fall have mild temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower prices. Spring brings wildflowers and is the best time for whitewater canoeing and rafting, while autumn is ideal for viewing foliage. The least expensive time to visit is during the winter when it's too cold for many outdoor activities.

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  • high season: June to August
  • low season: December to February
  • shoulder season: March to May, September to November

Weather Information

Arkansas experiences four distinct seasons. The weather can occasionally be extreme, with temperatures dropping into the single digits in the winter and rising to more than 100 degrees in August. Summers are typically warm and humid, while winters can be cold with light snow. Spring and fall experience mild weather.

Crowd Information

The summer is the most crowded time of the year, while winter experiences the least amount of visitation. Popular events that attract large crowds include the Racing Festival of the South in mid-April, Original War Eagle Craft Fair in May and October, Riverfest over Memorial Day weekend, Toad Suck Daze in May, Arkansas State Fair in October, and the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in October. Holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day are busy times. Home football games at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville also draw large crowds in the fall.

Closure Information

The majority of hotels, shops, and other attractions remain open year-round.

When to Save

Visiting is more expensive during holidays, festivals, and ball games. The lowest prices are typically offered during the winter season.

When to Book

The best time to book a vacation to Arkansas depends mainly on the specific destination. For lakeside or riverside lodging in the summer, book at least five to six months in advance (earlier for holiday weekends). Book at least nine months to a year in advance in northwest Arkansas during football season, especially if there is a home game over War Eagle weekend. For visits during the Riverfest weekend in Little Rock/North Little Rock, book six to eight months ahead of time, especially since this event falls on Memorial Day weekend.

Reservations for summer travel should be made at least six months in advance. Advanced booking is not as necessary during the winter, except for reservations at Arkansas State Park cabins with fireplaces. Book one to two months in advance for spring travel, but six months in advance for the Racing Festival of the South in Hot Springs during mid-April. For fall, book at least nine months to a year in advance for peak foliage destinations, and three months for other areas.

Information provided by the Arkansa Department of Parks and Tourism.

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