Nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains near the shores of the pristine 13,800-acre DeGray Lake, the DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge is an inviting hideaway that offers guests an opportunity to retreat to the wilderness and find refuge in a hidden haven.
It’s easy to say that the DeGray Lake Resort, Arkansas’ only resort state park, stands up to the competition. But it’s not as easy is describe the amenities offered at the resort. The sprawling sanctuary boasts a 94-room lodge, a campground and three yurts. Along with ample room to relax and soak in the surroundings, DeGray offers fishing, hiking and horseback-riding excursions. It has an on-site marina and even a dedicated team of park interpreters that guide groups on everything from edible-bug workshops to snorkeling adventures and narrated nature walks.
But the resort’s primary draw is its laid-back natural environment.
“It really is just such a relaxed place to be,” said Pascale Roberts, director of sales for the DeGray Lake Resort State Park. “The entire backside of the lodge looks out on the lake, and I think the minute you walk in the door, there’s this immediate sense of calm and relaxation. There’s not this labyrinth or maze; it’s just this real casual, simple, comfortable place. There’s a lot of incentives that go on, and it really makes the whole park experience a lot of fun, and it really takes it in a different direction than going to a normal resort or a normal hotel.”
Aside from the championship golf course, the petite spa and the copious number of water sports, DeGray is a destination that puts its passion for people above “programming.”
“The absolute main amenity here is the hospitality we have,” said Roberts. “The people are amazing. It is remarkable what I will see people do just to make sure each guest is happy and fulfilled. We even have full-time security with our rangers on-site at all times, so I think our people really are the biggest thing that makes us stand out.”
The property’s outstanding offerings make it an ideal retreat for meetings, weddings, reunions or any event looking to be set in serene surroundings.
From casual reunions to formal events, DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge offers flexible spaces that can fit groups of 10 to 350 with custom programs in some distinctive settings.
The main banquet center holds up to 350 guests and contains four different sections with two breakout rooms for smaller sessions. Meeting groups can also use the two outdoor pavilions, which each hold up to 80 people; the amphitheater, which holds up to 100; and the golf course patio, which holds up to 150, for events. Groups can also meet beneath any of the tree canopies in the nature park surrounding the hotel.
Despite the rustic surroundings, the dining at the DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge is far beyond campfire quality. The Shoreline Restaurant is a casual yet elegant dining room that serves three meals a day and provides for all the in-house catering for events and meetings at the lodge and throughout the park, from the golf course patio to the pavilions and lakefront outlooks.
Open to the public, the restaurant looks out over the DeGray Lake waters and seats up to 114 guests. Diners can watch a sunrise with a made-to-order omelet and sugar-dusted French toast or toast the sunset with a glass of pinot noir and a 12-ounce rib eye.
Set amid a protected wildlife park, the DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge offers abundant outdoor adventure opportunities. From bicycling beneath the trees to guided bird-watching, hiking or horseback treks alongside passionate experts in their respective fields, groups looking to commune with nature between meetings will find ample space to connect.
Aside from numerous trails and a pool, a hot tub and a beach on-site, the hotel also offers a championship golf course, picnic pavilions for group gatherings or intimate get-togethers, and a full-service marina where guests can dock their boats or rent one from the resort for waterskiing, fishing and more.
Education in the Woods
One aspect that really makes this resort stand out is its tightly knit affiliation with the state park, which boasts a staff of park rangers and park interpreters to help guests get the most out of their natural stays. Park interpreters lead wildlife safaris and walks through the park, and offer classes and programs like an edible bug program, nocturnal owl prowl, and arts and crafts workshops.
Most of the events and programs are offered free to park guests and are held around the resort at places like the amphitheater, grand lobby in the lodge, the marina, and outside in the sunny expanses of the park, making each program super accessible for off-duty meeting groups to join the fun.
DeGray Lake Resort State Park Lodge
Location: Bismarck, Arkansas
Size: 94-room lodge, 3 yurts and a campground
Meeting Space: Main banquet center, two outdoor pavilions, the amphitheater and the golf course patio
Access: Major airlines fly to Little Rock (a one-hour drive); a 30-minute drive south of Hot Springs, Arkansas