Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas

By Art Smart

Petit Jean State Park is a 3,471 acre park located in the Arkansas River Valley on the Petit Jean Mountain in Conway County, Arkansas. The park is named after Petit Jean, a French woman who dressed as a man and traveled to the New World to be with her lover. According to legend, she died on the mountain and was buried on the site, which is now marked by a grave and monument.

The park was established in 1923 and was the first state park in Arkansas. It was originally developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program created during the Great Depression to provide employment and improve natural resources. The CCC built many of the park's facilities, including the Lodge, Cabins, and Mather Lodge, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

The Lodge at Petit Jean State Park is a popular destination for events and gatherings. It features a grand lobby with a stone fireplace, a dining room, and a conference room. The Lodge also has a swimming pool, tennis courts, and a gift shop.

In addition to the Lodge, Petit Jean State Park offers a variety of other accommodation options, including cabins, campsites, and RV sites. The campsites range from primitive to sites with water and electric hookups, and the RV sites also have water and electric hookups as well as sewage disposal.

Petit Jean State Park is open year-round and is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and birdwatching. The park has over 20 miles of trails, including the Petit Jean Trail, which leads to the grave of Petit Jean and offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. The park is also home to the Cedar Falls Trail, which takes hikers to a beautiful waterfall.

One of the most popular times to visit Petit Jean State Park is during the fall, when the leaves of the trees turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. The park is a great place to take in the fall foliage and enjoy the cooler weather.

In addition to its natural beauty, Petit Jean State Park has a rich cultural history. The park is home to the Rock House Cave, which was used by Native Americans and early settlers as a shelter. The park also has a museum and a cultural center that displays artifacts and exhibits about the park's history and the surrounding area.

In summary, Petit Jean State Park is a beautiful and historic destination in Arkansas that offers a variety of outdoor and cultural activities. From its grand Lodge to its campsites and RV sites, the park has something for everyone. Its fall foliage and rich history make it a must-visit destination in the state.

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