Loaded with an unending list of things to do, Petit Jean State Park draws numerous visitors, including myself, year round. Since it would take an infinite amount of time to generate such a list, narrowing it down is obvious option. In addition to Cedar Falls, Seven Hollows Trail and the Petit Jean Overlook, five more fabulous things about Petit Jean are:
1. Mather Lodge. The only lodge constructed by the CCC, Mather Lodge opened its doors in 1935. The Adirondack architecture style of the building gives it a rustic, outdoorsy feeling. In the winter, a blazing fire located in the quaint lobby area greeted guests. Adjoining the lobby was the lodge restaurant, which offered delicious, generous portions of southern homestyle food that would delight any palate.
In 2010, it underwent an extensive renovation which took about two years to complete. The integrity of the original CCC building was not compromised. An addition was constructed containing a reception area, bathrooms and the restaurant. The results are absolutely amazing!
2. Camping. Year round campers can enjoy one of the one hundred twenty five sites available. What’s great about Petit Jean campsites is that each camp area is unique; some are woodsy, some are by the lake, and some, because of the towering pines, have a more open feeling, such as our campsite in 2012. They are all very well maintained and roomy. The campsites do often fill to capacity, so it is necessary to make advanced reservations.
3. Lake Bailey. A beautiful lake spanning one hundred acres, Lake Bailey offers many recreational options. Among these are fishing, kayaking, and pedal boating and water biking!
There is no swimming allowed at Lake Bailey; Petit Jean has a wonderful swimming pool open in the summer. Besides swimming would hamper the growth of beautiful water plants such as these lily pads.
4. Lake Roosevelt. Named after the United States President who established the CCC, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lake Roosevelt is the smaller of the two lakes. Visitors can fish the lake, which, like Lake Bailey, is stocked each year. I always enjoy walking the trail that leads from the dam area…..
…to this splendid, yet seasonal waterfall.
5. The scenic wonders. You know, those breathtaking moments when nature takes over, creating pause. The worries of the day, week or month seem miles away as the focus shifts to the beauty of something simple, such as a bird soaring over the mountain.
We are extremely fortunate in Arkansas to have such a fantastic state park system, and to think it all started with Petit Jean State Park!