Petit Jean State Park is an Arkansas State Park located in Morrilton, Arkansas just off of Highway 154. Nestled in the Ouachita forest region of Arkansas and offering many spectacular activities and beautiful scenery the park is certainly a must see for anyone looking for a nice weekend getaway or extended camping trip. Petit Jean is full of history as well from the times of Native Americans to the start of the parks system in Arkansas.
The park is certainly a stunning and beautiful place to visit with its wonderful views beautiful waterfall and rustic feel. Petit Jean has a wonderful feel and a certain atmosphere to it. The park is a romantic place for some as well. Perhaps this springs from the story behind the parks namesake a young woman known as Petit Jean. The story tells of a young French woman named Adrienne Dumont who was engaged to a French Nobleman Named Chavet. When Chavet was to leave France to explore the new world Adrienne followed him in disguise as a cabin boy known as Petit Jean meaning Little John in French. But sadly she fell ill and passed away and was buried on the top of the mountain where her grave still is today.
The area around Petit Jean is rich with Native American history with many artifacts recovered from all over the area. The area around Petit Jean has many Bluff Shelters that the Native Americans used as homes. Also the park boasts an archaeological historic site with its Rock House Cave that has many pictographs or Native American Drawings on the walls of the cave.
Petit Jean state park was the first Arkansas State Park. Originally intended to be logged the area now recognized as the park was visited in 1907 by a group of men from the Fort Smith Lumber Company to discuss the plan to log the area, but what was intended to be a business trip turned into a weeklong vacation for the group. The men from the company decided that it would be too costly for the company to attempt to log the area but instead put forth a motion to give the area to the United States to make it into a national park. The men arranged a meeting with Stephen Mather who was the Director of the National Park Service at the time. Mr. Mather did not believe the area met the criteria to become a national park but did suggest that the area could be declared a state park. So with the suggestion of Mr. Mather the men took the idea to the state legislature and governor and in 1923 the area became the first state park of Arkansas.
As you have read the park is teeming with history but it has many great activities to enjoy also. The park has 7 trails that run in and around the park with an over 20 miles total of trail to hike. Also Petit Jean has many overlooks and caves to explore such as the Bluff Shelters mentioned earlier as well as the Bear Caves. Though not actual caves the Bear Caves are more like tall rock formations with deep fissures in between that are wide enough to walk trough and climb up. The park also has a spectacular waterfall known as Cedar Falls that is absolutely amazing. The park also offers great fishing and boating activities, as well as boat rental at nearby Lake Bailey and Lake Roosevelt.
Lodging at Petit Jean ranges from tent and RV camping to Hotel rental. With campsite rental ranging from $13.50 to $21.00 in winter months to $18.00 to $28.00 in summer months. The park also offers a Rent-A-Camp type site which is equipped with a canvas type wall tent, also they offer a Rent-A-Tepee site equipped with a native American style tepee both sites are available for $50.00 per night. For more information on campsites and Rent-A-Camps click here. But if you are not the campsite type the park also offers many cabins to rent and also hotel type rooms at the Mather Lodge, ranging in price from $75.00 to $175.00 per night for cabins and from $65.00 to $70.00 per night for hotel rooms, for more information on cabin rental click here, for Mather Lodge information click here.
Of all of the parks in Arkansas Petit Jean State Park is a must see as well as a wonderful place full of history and beauty that is here for you to enjoy. Whether just passing by for a day, a nice Memorial Day getaway, or an extended camping trip Petit Jean is sure to be an exciting and enjoyable experience for all. For more information and facts about Petit Jean State Park click here. Or visit the Arkansas State Parks website here.