About the Forest

Ouachita National Forest was established in 1907 by President Roosevelt and was known as the Arkansas National Forest. The forest became known as the Ouachita National Forest on April 29, 1926.

Hernando DeSoto was the first the first to explore the vast mountain range in 1541. The local Indians called the range “Washita” which meant “good hunting grounds”. The name “Ouachita” is the French spelling of this word and was widely accepted as the official name of the mountain range.

The Ouachita Mountain Range is the only mountain range that runs east and west.  The forest was originally only 589,973 acres in size today it totals 1,789,666 acres with 1,434,872 in Arkansas and 354,794 in Oklahoma. This rugged mountain landscape makes premier sightseeing and trails the focus of the forest.  Seasonal flora, streams and lakes, wildlife, and pristine scenery set the stage for recreation experiences.

Enjoy outstanding mountain views, picturesque streams, rivers, and lakes, Experience high quality nature-related sightseeing, camping, off-highway vehicle riding, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, non-motorized boating, and dispersed camping. Learn about the areas rich history at wayside exhibits along the Talimena National Scenic Byway.  Visit our recreation pages to learn more about all of the outdoor recreation opportunities the Ouachita has to offer!

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