One of the biggest draws of Bella Vista, AR, is the opportunity for outdoor activities. It was a huge part of what brought us to NWA in the first place, and Bella Vista has a lot to offer as far as activities and resources to enjoy. The town was originally developed as a retirement community, and my great-grandfather actually had a trailer down here where he’d spend his winters away from Iowa. According to my family, representatives from Bella Vista used to come to the Iowa State Fair (and others in the Midwest, I’m sure) and offer interested folks a free weekend stay down in Arkansas so they could see the amenities. Some of the things designed to make Bella Vista attractive were the lakes and the golf courses, and there are quite a few of both to choose from.
There are seven lakes in Bella Vista, each slightly unique from the others, but all are free to POA members and their guests. If you aren’t familiar with the Property Owners’ Association in Bella Vista, I highly suggest researching the organization and its implications if you’re considering moving here. There are some nice perks and great features/work of the POA, but also a bit of contention, frustration, and some controversy thrown in for good measure. Everyone seems to have a different opinion when it comes to things like monthly assessments and a lot of regulation. My opinion is mixed – as I said, there are both positive and negative aspects to this local entity.
The first lake John and I visited after we arrived in BV was Lake Avalon. We met some new friends at the beach on a Sunday afternoon and just enjoyed the sun, water, and new experience. Lots of families enjoy the beach, it’s well-maintained, and is a great spot for events such as cookouts and local group activities. The Friends of Arkansas Singletrack just had a ’90s-themed party there for members and their families last weekend – the perfect setting for picnic food, games, and friends. The Little Sugar trail system also goes right past the parking lot, so if you’re out enjoying the mountain biking nearby you can easily stop to scope things out on your ride.
I’ve taken my paddle board to Lake Avalon three times now – this last time I went before work on a Monday morning. I arrived at 7:00 am and there were two people there – one exercising near the beach, and an older gentleman walking laps around the parking area. I dropped my paddle board off near the dock and parked the car back in the designated parking area closer to the bathroom and main park space.
There was one boat out that early in the morning, with two guys quietly fishing, but other than that I didn’t see anyone else on the water. I did spot a blue heron and a turtle sharing a log and saw several splashing fish as I made my way toward the dam at the opposite end of the lake. I brought my coffee in a Hydroflask and a Bel-Vita in my pocket so I could enjoy my breakfast out on the paddle board. The water was so incredibly still – like glass. I think this is now my favorite time to go, and I’ll definitely be doing it again. With my new remote position starting later in the morning and being more flexible than teaching ever was, there is no good excuse for me to not go out early in the mornings anymore (before it gets too hot!).
Paddle Boarding Tips
I am fairly new to paddle boarding, but there are a few things I’ve found/learned/bought that may come in handy if you are new to the sport, as well. The first is a way to transport my board without a truck. They’re inflatable, which is convenient for storage, but we typically leave them inflated in the garage during the summer. John has a truck, so when we both go we pile the boards into the back and use a ratchet strap to hold them down. But I didn’t want to deal with deflating/inflating each time to carry it in my car when I went out alone. (Bonus tip – get an attachment for your air compressor if you’ve got one because hand pumping an inflatable paddleboard exhausts you before you even get on the water!).
I ended up purchasing these roof rack pads from Amazon, and they have been a great investment (so far). They’re easy for me to strap to the top of my vehicle (I opened the rear door and just stood on the inside edge to reach the top), and way cheaper than many other options out there. This was definitely a good starter method – maybe someday I’ll upgrade to the cool rack that pulls down!
We also hooked carabiners to both boards, right to the bungee on the front of each paddle board. I can quickly attach my water bottle, dry bag, or whatever else you need. The dry bag was also a good call – it’s a little Sea to Summit one that I can keep my car keys, POA member card, and any other random things I don’t want to lose in the water.
Favorite Things About Lake Avalon
- It’s small – I can easily paddle around the lake in an hour
- No-wake lake – you aren’t going to get thrown off your board by a speedboat out here
- The beach – I took my niece here last summer and it is fantastic for kids
- Bathrooms – I place a lot of value in a clean, quality bathroom at a park!
- Coves – there are a couple of little coves I love paddling into, just to feel secluded and see what’s back there
- Quiet – even with the beach and activities on one end of the lake, it’s still serene and peaceful the further you get from that side of things
- Rentals – if you don’t have your own paddle board or kayak, you can rent one by the hour
To Keep in Mind
- The use of the amenities in BV, including the lakes, is limited to members and their guests. That’s where the POA comes in. So, if you are with a member, you’re good to go. If you live here and are a member, you’re also in the clear.
- There is still a fee schedule – even if you live here! Just be cognizant and check it out first, or you might be frustrated when you show up to do an activity somewhere in BV and have to pay a fee. We get the yearly activity cards, which include most things and are well worth it for us.