Petit Jean State Park

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

My favorite season in Arkansas arrived last week. The air is crisp and cool which is a welcome change from the heat and humidity of summer. I am looking forward to soaking up the fall season with more time outdoors. As my family was planning a little weekend getaway to Lake Catherine, I started thinking about how fortunate we are in Arkansas to have so many outdoor options that are best enjoyed during the fall. I’m sure that you have your favorite places, but here are a few of mine. If you are out of state, this can serve as a reference for things to do next time you are traveling to Arkansas.

Arkansas State Parks

When I moved from Texas years ago, I was blown away by the quality of the Arkansas State Parks. There are great options for both overnight getaways and day trips. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Petit Jean State Park, a little more than an hour away, is one of our favorite day trips for hiking. The Bear Cave trail is an easy trail if you have little ones, or just don’t want a strenuous hike. For a bit more of a workout and beautiful scenery, check out the Cedar Falls trail. My daughter has an “I Survived the Cedar Falls Trail” shirt, so she felt it was quite an accomplishment.
  • Mount Nebo, just outside of Dardanelle, tends to be our go-to for weekend or longer getaways. The rustic cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s and several have amazing views of the river valley below. The hiking trails are moderate on Mount Nebo and you can visit Sunrise or Sunset Point for gorgeous views. We always feel refreshed after a few days on Mount Nebo.
  • Mount Magazine is our favorite spot for a romantic getaway. The lodge has breathtaking views, hiking trails and a nice restaurant. Besides, what is more romantic than a trip to Paris?
  • Hot Springs (Lake Catherine/Lake Ouachita) is always a nice getaway close to home. While these are a top pick in the summer to cool off in the water, the parks also provide a scenic getaway in the fall with plenty of lodging options, including glamping in yurts at Lake Catherine.

Blanchard Springs Recreation Area

Located in the Ozark National Forest, this is a great destination in the fall. The hikes are beautiful with waterfall views and the cavern tours are fascinating (if they are open when you visit). Of course it’s a great way to escape the heat during the summer as well (If you go in the summer, remember your swimsuit b/c there is a nice spot for swimming, also).

Eureka Springs

Although not technically an outdoor getaway, when we visit Eureka Springs we spend a lot of time walking around exploring the area. With lots of private cottages and Airbnb options, it is a way to enjoy fall in the Ozarks and still keep some social distance.

More to Discover

With over 50 state parks, we have many more to discover and look forward to doing so in the coming years. Of course, a simple way to enjoy the outdoors is a walk around the neighborhood or a quick trip to Pinnacle Mountain in West Little Rock. Neighborhood walks with my walking-buddy have become a favorite pastime the last few months and they are more pleasant with the fall weather. I typically run into neighbors and friends, making it a safe way to reconnect.

As always, we are here for you. Please email or call if you want to set up a Zoom videoconference meeting or talk by phone.

Photo: Cedar Falls, Petit Jean State Park, courtesy of Arkansas State Parks.

Mary McCraw, CFP®

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