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Travel - Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Updated on May 19, 2016
Another view from one of the hiking trails
Another view from one of the hiking trails
The view from the deck of our cabin
The view from the deck of our cabin
One of the cave paintings that were created thousands of years ago.
One of the cave paintings that were created thousands of years ago.
Hiking through huge rock formations is amazing.
Hiking through huge rock formations is amazing.

Arkansas Vacation Destination

Are you looking for a beautiful place to get away from it all or have a family reunion? Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas is perfect.

Our daughter and her family (husband,4 kids,2 dogs)live in Memphis, TN, and my father and sister live in Oklahoma, we live in Michigan. We all had time one October and met there for a family reunion. .

I'm NOT a camper. My idea of roughing it is having no TV. So, we try to find places where some of us can camp, and the others can stay in a relatively comfy cottage.

Petit Jean State Park offers both and more. The park sits atop a mountain that sort of soars from the flat land below. The drive to the top of the mountain is beautiful, although a little scary as you're driving along the edge of a cliff at times.

The cabin we rented (for only about $90 a night) was wonderful. It had one bedroom with a uble bed and a single bed as well as a a sleeper sofa in the living room. My Dad, who is in his eighties, chose the sleeper sofa and said he got the best night's sleep he'd had in a long time. We had a lovely view of from a large back deck of the peaks and valleys surrounding us. There was a grill (charcoal) and large picnic table. Attached to that was a screened in porch, perfect for visiting without pesky bugs.. Our cabin was half of a duplex, so we could have rented both halves (separated by a locking door) for a larger group.

The bathroom was large and handicap accessible. It had only a shower, not tub, It was very clean.

The Kitchen/dining area were clean, functional and stocked with all the pots, pans, dishes, towels we needed. There is a full size stove, refrigerator, microwave as well. There were ten people in our group and we were all able to eat dinner and enjoy our evenings playing cards or watching TV comfortably.

The living area was comfy with a sofa and side chair. The room included a beautiful fireplace where we burned Duralogs sold at the park office, they do not want you to burn any wood from the park, even deadfall. There was also a television.

Our daughter and her family camped and liked the campground very much. They were happy that they were able to bring their two Golden Retrievers too, so the whole family was together.

We all tried fishing in from the dock on the beautiful lake. We didn't catch anything, but had a good time. We enjoyed the lake area and playground. One word of caution, however; there is 'jump-on' metal toy in the playground that is rather dangerous.

The hiking trails range from short and easy to long and complex - your choice. My Dad has bad knees but was able to walk the boardwalk hike to view the beautiful waterfall. The trails and were well kept and informative signs helped as well. The views and rock formations are amazing. One hike leads to a cave where we viewed Petraglyphs painted thousands of years ago by native people. Some of these pictures have never been translated and remain a mystery.

One of our favorite indoor places was the Mather Lodge which offers a spectacular view of the mountains, valley and sunsets. There is a large deck area with to enjoy the views even more. Inside there is a magnificent fireplace and comfy sofas and chairs to wait if the restaurant is crowded. The restaurant has a glass wall and every table offers a wonderful view. Sunset there is amazing. The food was good and the prices fair. We threw a small impromptu surprise birthday party for my eight-year-old granddaughter and the staff kept her gifts in the kitchen until time for desert, then brought out her ice cream with a candle and joined in the singing. All the staff members are extremely helpful and friendly.

Another overview allows you to see miles and miles of the farmland below. There is the grave marked with black metal fencing and flowers. The story is that a young man came to the mountain to consider settling there. He thought he left his fiancé' behind, but she had dressed as a boy and was on the ship with him the entire trip. This took place in the eighteenth century and where the park gets it's name, after ‘Petit Jean'.

I highly recommend this magical place for a weekend or a long vacation. We were there in October so many activities were closed for the season, but contact the park and they'll tell you of all the activities available during the summer.

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    • profile image

      Tim Wright 

      8 years ago

      Fantastic place!! My grandparents use to live across from the auto museum on the mountain. Many great memories of Petit Jean. Great Hiking, cabins, summer activities with the rangers, and much more!!

    • profile image

      Lake Ozark Vacation Rentals 

      8 years ago

      Wow, those pictures are really great. Looks like a beautiful place to visit. Here at Lake of the Ozarks we have great camping, boating, horseback riding, para-sailing, shopping, state parks and much more!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This looks absolutely beautiful and certainly the pricing is affordable for the cabins. Thanks!

    • Camping Dan profile image

      Camping Dan 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the tip! I moved to Missouri a couple of years ago but have not made it down there yet. It looks beautiful though!

      If you have not been check out the Buffalo National River, especially the upper river in the spring.

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