The last two days we visited this park. The park sits on top of a small flat mountain top. Glad we did not have to get the fiver up there, very curvy steep roads, although they have a campground, and we did see lots of big rigs.
Petit Jean mountain as it is called got it’s name from a tragic event. A young French girl, wanted to go with here fiancé to the new world, he said it was to dangerous. So she cut her hair and dressed up as a boy, and boarded ship. They sailed the Arkansas river and stopped at this area, became friendly with the Indians. When fall came they were about to set sail again, when Petit Jean (Means Little John) as they called HIM, got sick, gravely sick. they soon found out he was a she and summoned her fiancé. She asked his forgiveness, and soon died. She was buried atop the mountain she so loved.
Petit Jean is Arkansas’s first state park. The land was set aside as a park in 1923, with little improvement, until the CCC arrived, Company 1781-V (Arkansas veterans) during mid-July 1933. The CCC-WW1 Veterans built the lodge overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon that was named in honor of the late National Park Service director Stephen T. Mather, who had encouraged the state to establish Petit Jean State Park in 1923. Natural stone and log cabins were built, a visitor center, Mather lodge, a water tower, and other pavilions, along with hiking trails and bridges. These structures remain the focal point of Petit Jean State Park. They are the ones who made the park what it is today. The 200 men that worked here for almost 8 years during the depression, turned a wilderness into a state park. And so it is named Petit Jean State park in honor of Little John.
It continues to be very hot here, with the humidity it’s been 100 degrees again, so rather than takings a long trail, we did a bunch of short hikes. We ventured to places like, visitor center, pioneer cabin, bear cave, rock house cave, palisades, and cedar falls overlook. The cedar falls trail to the bottom of the falls is something we did want to do, but it being a long downhill hike (which means you have to come back up) along with the fact the falls was really not running good, we opted to not do it with concerns of the heat.
New visitor center that opened in June 8, 2012
Old visitor center built by The CCC got to small for the needs of the park
The CCC built all these trails and placed these rocks
The picture on the bottom left, if you look really, really close you’ll see he building on the bottom right.
Mountain side where Petit Jean is buried.
Stout’s Point Overlook
Our second day at Petit Jean we visited Mather Lodge and surroundings. One of Arkansas’s historic treasures, Mather Lodge holds the distinction of being the only lodge built in Arkansas by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Very impressive place.
The lodge has 24 quest room, various sittings rooms, a restaurant and a pool.
View in back of the Lodge
The park also has 33 cabins that can be rented . Ten of them are rustic-style designs built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and 23 new cabins.
We had a great time exploring around the park and it’s many trails. When The CCC were doing all their hard work they often wondered “who would come here?” Us and thousands of others 😊