State Parks

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Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources

The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources houses exhibits that tell the story of oil and bromine production in southern Arkansas, with particular attention given to the historic oil boom that began in the 1920s. The center also interprets the history of these resources from the beginning of the oil’s creation eons ago through modern times. In the 1920s, nationwide attention focused on this area when the Smackover oil field was ranked first among the nation’s oil fields with a yearly production of sixty-nine million barrels in 1925. In 1925, during south Arkansas’s oil boom, the forty-square-mile Smackover oil field was the focal point of one of the fastest mineral booms in North America, with 1,000 wells drilled in the first six …

Arkansas Post Museum State Park

Arkansas Post Museum State Park in southeast Arkansas displays exhibits and artifacts and presents programs about Arkansas Post—the first permanent European settlement in the state—and life in the state’s Delta region, including the Grand Prairie. It succeeded Arkansas Post State Park, which was transferred to the National Park Service in 1964 for creation of the Arkansas Post National Memorial. The museum complex is located at the junction of Highways 165 and 169. The Arkansas Post State Park Commission, established by Legislative Act 57 of 1929, acquired sixty-two acres that had been occupied by Arkansas Post when it became the capital of Arkansas Territory in 1819, when the territory was established. At the time of the park’s creation, there were no …

Bull Shoals-White River State Park

Arkansas’s seventh state park, Bull Shoals-White River State Park, is near Mountain Home (Baxter County) in northeast Arkansas on the White River, one of the nation’s premier trout-fishing streams, and Bull Shoals Lake, one of the region’s major man-made lakes. The site was adopted into the state park system in 1955 after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created the lake by constructing Bull Shoals Dam on the White River. Bull Shoals was named by early French hunters and trappers who used the word “Boill,” meaning a large spring, to describe the area. Edmund Jennings, the first English-speaking person to visit the “Six Bulls” country, lived among the Indians for fifteen years before returning to his home state of Tennessee. …

Cane Creek State Park

Cane Creek State Park in southeast Arkansas occupies an environmentally significant setting on the border of two of the state’s geographic regions, the flat Mississippi Alluvial Plain (the Delta) and the rolling West Gulf Coastal Plain. Located on the shore of Cane Creek Lake, the park provides for recreational activities that include camping, picnicking, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife watching. The park, a joint project of state and federal agencies, grew out of a 1973 proposal by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) to develop a lake and park near Star City (Lincoln County) to enhance recreational opportunities in southeast Arkansas, although legislation authorizing the creation of the park had passed two years earlier. The state parks department entered …

Conway Cemetery State Park

Conway Cemetery State Park, near Walnut Hill (Lafayette County) in southwest Arkansas, preserves a half-acre cemetery containing the grave of the state’s first governor, James Sevier Conway. It is the second-smallest Arkansas state park. Conway was governor of Arkansas from 1836 to 1840 and a member of “The Family,” a powerful dynasty that dominated early Arkansas politics. During his tenure in office, he was responsible for a budget surplus and many of the state’s initial institutions, including roads, a prison system, and a state bank. An advocate of education, he unsuccessfully requested that the Arkansas General Assembly use the budget surplus to create a public school system and state university. The economic depression of 1837 collapsed the banking system and …

Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area

The Cossatot River State Park–Natural Area conserves a twelve-and-one-half-mile stretch of the Cossatot River, a southwest Arkansas stream included by the legislature in the state’s Natural and Scenic Rivers System. The National Park Service has designated the Cossatot’s upper reaches as a National Wild and Scenic River. The upper Cossatot is free of impoundments, and its shoreline is largely primitive and undeveloped. Within the park, there are over thirty rare plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the Ouachita Mountains. The idea of establishing a natural area along the upper Cossatot surfaced in 1974, shortly after the Arkansas Environmental Preservation Commission was created. The panel was subsequently renamed the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. In October 1975, its …

Crater of Diamonds State Park

Located on State Highway 301 in Pike County, the Crater of Diamonds State Park contains the world’s only diamond mine that is open to the public. John Wesley Huddleston, a farmer and sometime prospector, first found diamonds on the site in 1906. Huddleston’s discovery sparked a diamond rush in Pike County. Diamond-bearing soil was also found on Millard M. Mauney’s property that was adjacent to Huddleston’s. Prospectors and fortune hunters rushed to the area, and soon the town of Kimberly developed to accommodate the influx of people. Within a few years of the discovery, all the land on top of Prairie Creek Pipe was in the hands of two rival companies, Arkansas Diamond Company and Ozark Diamond Mines Corporation. The …

Crowley’s Ridge State Park

Crowley’s Ridge State Park in northeast Arkansas is a recreationally oriented park with a rich social and geological history. The park, situated on land that was homesteaded by nineteenth-century pioneer Benjamin F. Crowley, also preserves the structures built by young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. Arriving on the scene in 1820, Crowley was the first prominent white settler in the region. He selected the site for his plantation home because of the upland terrain and a spring, which continues to flow today. Crowley, a veteran of the War of 1812, became an acknowledged leader in northeast Arkansas and strongly supported the creation of Greene County on November 5, 1833. He died in 1842 at age …

Daisy State Park

Daisy State Park is situated on the northern shoreline of 7,000-acre Lake Greeson in southwest Arkansas. The clear water and Ouachita Mountains scenery make the park a favorite of campers seeking water sports and fishing. Daisy is the eighth state park established in Arkansas. Lake Greeson was created in 1950 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers placed a dam on the Little Missouri River some six miles north of Murfreesboro (Pike County). The lake was created for flood control and hydroelectric power generation. The land for Daisy State Park, consisting of 272 acres, was acquired by the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on March 22, 1955. Former state representative Pete Austin, a lifetime resident of Pike …

Davidsonville Historic State Park

Davidsonville Historic State Park is a 163-acre park located on the Black River in southern Randolph County. The park preserves the site of the town of Davidsonville, which housed the first postal stop, the first courthouse building and county seat of Lawrence County, and the first federal land office in what is now the state of Arkansas. The town was created from a few log cabins in 1815, when the Act of Lawrence County was written; it was briefly known as the town of Lawrence. Strangely, this town of “firsts” was also the first county seat to be bypassed by a major road connecting Missouri to the Great Southwest. By 1829, Davidsonville had lost the courthouse to Jackson and the …

DeGray Lake Resort State Park

DeGray Lake Resort State Park, located in southwest Arkansas, features a ninety-four-room lodge, an eighteen-hole championship golf course, a full service marina, a convention center, tennis courts, and a pool. It is the state’s only resort state park. While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was constructing DeGray Lake (1963–1972) by damming the Caddo River, support grew within the State Parks Division and surrounding communities for developing along the 13,400-acre lake a state park to rival resort state parks in neighboring Oklahoma and Texas. The Corps and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism reached an agreement in November 1971 for the construction and management of a resort and recreation area on the lake’s north shore. Effective May 1, 1972, …

Delta Heritage Trail State Park

The Delta Heritage Trail State Park is being developed in phases along seventy-three miles of abandoned Union Pacific Railroad right of way through Phillips, Arkansas, and Desha counties in eastern Arkansas. The trail project starts one mile south of Lexa (Phillips County) and goes to Cypress Bend (Desha County). In early 1991, as part of the “rails-to-trails” provision of the National Trails System Act, which preserves rail corridors by reclaiming land along abandoned railroads for recreational use, the Union Pacific Railroad notified the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism of the potential track abandonment. Under the act, which is funded by the Department of the Interior, railroad companies can transfer all rights and liabilities connected to a rail corridor to …

Devil’s Den State Park

Devil’s Den State Park in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas is one of the best-preserved Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) park developments in the United States and contains the largest sandstone crevice cave area in the country. The park is popular for a variety of recreational opportunities and was designated a Natural Area by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The Arkansas Archeological Survey in 1979 recorded eleven archaeological sites at the park. Six sites are prehistoric and indicate the presence of Native Americans as far back as 8,000 years. Archaeological evidence of European-American settlement indicates that whites probably settled in the area before 1836, the year Arkansas became the twenty-fifth state. Settlement of upper Lee Creek Valley steadily increased during …

Hampson Archeological Museum State Park

Hampson Archeological Museum State Park houses and exhibits the archaeological collection from a Mississippian era ceremonial complex and village known as the Nodena Site, located in Wilson (Mississippi County) and originally uncovered by Dr. James K. Hampson. This remarkable collection is accompanied by graphics and written material describing the lifestyles of the artistic people who lived here from AD 1400 to 1650. As a boy, Hampson (1877–1956) was fascinated by arrowheads. His interest in archaeology was rekindled in the early 1920s, when he returned to the family plantation, Nodena, to set up a successful medical practice. In 1927, he began a painstaking study of the physical remains of the people who inhabited the Nodena Site. Hampson, his wife, and his …

Herman Davis State Park

Herman Davis State Park at Manila (Mississippi County) in northeast Arkansas honors Private Herman Davis, a native of Manila who is considered one of the top heroes of World War I. The one-acre park surrounds a monument to Davis. Davis distinguished himself with unusual feats of bravery on more than one occasion during the time he served in World War I. He was listed fourth on U.S. General John J. Pershing’s list of the100 greatest heroes of World War I and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and the Medaille Militaire by the American and French governments. Soon after Davis died in a Memphis hospital on January 5, 1923, two campaigns were launched to raise funds …

Historic Washington State Park

Historic Washington State Park, originally called Old Washington Historic State Park, is one of fifty-two state parks operated by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. This park primarily exists to preserve and interpret the history of the town of Washington (Hempstead County), emphasizing its political, cultural, and architectural history in the nineteenth century. Washington was a major stopping point on the Southwest Trail that connected St. Louis, Missouri, to Fulton (Hempstead County) on the Red River. Many pioneers and settlers traveled this route on their way to Texas and the Southwest. Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie each traveled separately through Washington before they fought for Texas’s independence. While in Washington, Bowie commissioned local blacksmith James Black to …

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area

Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in northwest Arkansas offers outdoor recreational activities such as hiking, boating, and fishing, as well as sites of historical interest. In addition, it is the only Arkansas state park where hunting is allowed. The property was once the home of the first lumber magnate of northwest Arkansas and contained the largest sawmill in the state. The three state agencies that technically manage the property are Arkansas State Parks, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, and Arkansas Game and Fish. The addition of “Conservation Area” to the name of the park was added to represent the work of Arkansas Natural Heritage and Arkansas Game and Fish. Starting in the 1840s and continuing throughout his life, Peter Van Winkle, who …

Jacksonport State Park

Jacksonport State Park lets visitors relive nineteenth-century Arkansas history—including the days of the pioneers, steamboats, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Victorian Age, and the Industrial Revolution—through its various exhibits and interpretive programs. The 1872 courthouse serves as a museum, and the last sternwheeler riverboat to ply the White River is permanently moored nearby. Due to its location near the confluence of the Black and White rivers, Jacksonport became a trading center during the 1820s and thus was significant for the early settlement and economic development of Arkansas. The first steamboats arrived in 1833, and the town grew around the landing site. Jackson County, established in 1829, moved its seat of justice from Augusta (now in Woodruff County) to Jacksonport in …

Jenkins’ Ferry State Park

Location: Grant County Size: 40 acres Jenkins’ Ferry State Park, in Grant County on the Saline River, commemorates a Civil War engagement that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The park contains interpretive exhibits, as well as a picnic area and a boat ramp for access to the river. The name of the park comes from Thomas Jenkins, who established a ferry on the Saline River in 1815. By 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, the ferry was being operated by Jenkins’s sons, William and John DeKalb. In March 1864, General Steele led approximately 14,000 troops out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to join in the Union army’s Red River Campaign. The goal of …

Lake Catherine State Park

Lake Catherine State Park in southwest Arkansas provides access to fishing, water sports, and lakeside recreation while conserving natural features representative of the Ouachita Mountains, such as waterfalls, mountain streams, and rock outcroppings. Three stone-and-wood cabins, a former concessions building, and a bridge located within the park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as examples of the rustic architecture style used by the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which built the park. In August 1935, Harvey Couch, founder of the Arkansas Power and Light Company, donated to the state 2,048 acres of his land along the shore of Lake Catherine. The 1,940-acre lake had been created by Remmel Dam, the state’s first major hydroelectric project, in 1924. …

Lake Charles State Park

When Lake Charles State Park was constructed in the 1960s, it was the first of its kind and size in the nation. It is located in the foothills of the Ozarks near the Black River in Lawrence County and is a very popular family recreation area in northeast Arkansas. Lake Charles was originally planned as a watershed/flood protection project near the Black River in Lawrence County. In 1956, the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors sponsored an application under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program. When the application was submitted, the sponsors were thinking only of watershed protection on the uplands and flood prevention on the bottomlands. However, before an intensive …

Lake Chicot State Park

Lake Chicot State Park, located near Arkansas’s southeastern corner, provides recreational access to Arkansas’s largest natural lake, Lake Chicot, a twenty-mile-long oxbow created by the Mississippi River hundreds of years ago. Activities at the lake and its environs include fishing and bird watching. Early in the twentieth century, the pure waters of the lake were used untreated by the city of Lake Village (Chicot County). The area became popular for its fishing, boating, and other recreational activities. The forests surrounding the lake served as a rich habitat for wildlife. The lake was polluted by a flood in 1916 and, beginning in 1920, work on the Mississippi River levee polluted it even more. Dredging, increased cultivation around the lake, and the …

Lake Dardanelle State Park

Lake Dardanelle State Park is a popular camping and fishing destination located on the shores of a 34,300-acre man-made reservoir on the Arkansas River near the cities of Russellville (Pope County) and Dardanelle (Yell County). The park combines outdoor recreational opportunities with state-of-the-art facilities, exhibits, and technology. In 1964, construction was completed on the Dardanelle Dam, located near the river crossing between Dardanelle and Russellville. Lake Dardanelle was created in 1965. Construction on the lock and powerhouse was completed in 1969. The dam, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was part of the McClellan-Kerr navigation project that made the Arkansas River navigable to commercial vessels. At the urging of Russellville civic leaders, the Arkansas Publicity and Parks Commission …

Lake Fort Smith State Park

Although it first became a state park in 1967, making it Arkansas’s twenty-third state park, the opening of Lake Fort Smith State Park in the spring of 2008 in a new location with entirely new facilities made it the newest of Arkansas’s state parks. At the park’s official dedication on June 19, 2008, park officials and local leaders celebrated the site that overlooks Lake Fort Smith and that in many ways reproduces the environment of the earlier park. The park was originally developed in the late 1930s as a city recreational park when Crawford County, along with the City of Fort Smith (Sebastian County) decided to utilize Lake Fort Smith as a tourism destination, called the Mountainburg Recreational Facility, as well …

Lake Frierson State Park

Lake Frierson State Park provides a variety of recreational activities on the shores of 335-acre Lake Frierson, which fronts the western slopes of picturesque Crowley’s Ridge in northeast Arkansas. Constructed in the 1970s by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, Lake Frierson is one of ten reservoirs—not all of them state parks—along Crowley’s Ridge managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism has a lease agreement with the Game and Fish Commission for the park’s 114 acres. The lake was named for Charles Frierson, a Jonesboro (Craighead County) attorney who played a major role in securing the property. Funding for Lake Frierson State Park came from legislative appropriations in 1975, and construction started in …

Lake Ouachita State Park

Lake Ouachita State Park lies within the Ouachita Mountains in west central Arkansas. Bordering Arkansas’s largest man-made lake and the Ouachita National Forest, the park offers camping, swimming, fishing, and many other outdoor opportunities, and it preserves the historic site of Three Sisters Springs. In 1875, homesteader John McFadden claimed that three springs on his property about twelve miles north of Hot Springs (Garland County) possessed healing properties. The springs’ collective name, “Three Sisters,” was reputedly derived from the fact McFadden had three daughters. In 1907, W.M. Cecil and his partners bought the property. Cecil later bought out his partners and began developing McFadden’s Three Sisters Springs Resort. By the mid-1930s, its facilities included cottages, a springhouse, and a bottling …

Lake Poinsett State Park

Arkansas’s twentieth state park, Lake Poinsett, is a fisherman’s haven located off Arkansas Highway 163 in Harrisburg (Poinsett County) in northeast Arkansas. It is one of four state parks located along Crowley’s Ridge in eastern Arkansas. In the 1950s, several residents in the Harrisburg area started volunteer efforts to have a recreational lake built in the county. Spearheaded by a local Rotary Club committee chaired by Richard D. Woods, the planners envisioned a place to fish, picnic, and camp, but it became clear they did not have the funds to construct the type of multi-purpose facility they wanted. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission expressed interest in damming Distress Creek to create a lake, but only when funds became available. …

Logoly State Park

Logoly State Park in southwestern Arkansas was the state’s first environmental education park. At Logoly, interpreters present workshops on ecological and environmental topics, and the park’s natural resources provide a living laboratory for students and nature lovers alike. The area surrounding Logoly State Park has been the scene of human activity since it was inhabited by Native Americans, whose artifacts have been found in the park. Because mature timber stands cover most of the park, the few artifacts found have been along the trails or water-washed areas. No detailed archaeological surveys have been done to locate any possible village sites. During the late 1800s, a collection of springs in an area called Magnesia Springs was used by the early settlers …

Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park

Louisiana Purchase Historic State Park conserves a rare headwater swamp, located on Little Cypress Creek, and a granite monument standing in the swamp’s interior. The monument marks the “initial point” established during an original survey of lands added to the United States as a result of the Louisiana Purchase. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1972, and on April 19, 1993, the National Park Service designated the point a National Historic Landmark. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 more than doubled the size of the United States and brought all the territory that would become Arkansas under U.S. ownership. In 1815, President James Madison ordered a survey to establish a system for distributing …

Lower White River Museum State Park

The Lower White River Museum State Park is located in Des Arc (Prairie County), which is in the northeast corner of the central part of the state. The museum tells the story of the White River, specifically the Lower White River, and its dramatic and important role in Arkansas history. As pioneers and early settlers migrated west, the White River served as a primary transportation route, and that river travel expanded the settlement and economic opportunities in the region. The town of Des Arc, where the state park is located and which was the focus of the original museum, owes its very existence to the White River, as do many other old river towns that line its banks. Steamboats also …

Mammoth Spring State Park

Mammoth Spring State Park preserves the state’s largest natural spring—and one of the largest in the world. Approximately nine million gallons of water flow through the spring hourly. The spectacular stream of cold water is the chief source of the Spring River, a fishing and canoeing stream that is popular year-round because of its dependable flow. The park also preserves a fully restored nineteenth-century railroad depot. Native Americans, particularly the Osage, inhabited the Mammoth Spring area for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans; unfortunately there are few archaeological sites in the area. Recorded local history dates to the early 1800s, when settlers called the spring “Head of the River.” In 1850, geologist David Dale Owen examined the spring …

Marks’ Mills State Park

Location: Cleveland County Size: 6.2 acres Marks Mills’ State Park, in Cleveland County on the old Camden-Pine Bluff Road, commemorates a Civil War action that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The park contains interpretive exhibits and a picnic area. The park is named for John H. Marks, who in 1834 constructed a sawmill and flour mill at this location. The mills were still operating during the Civil War, making them landmarks for both Union and Confederate troops. In March 1864, General Steele led approximately 14,000 soldiers out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to join in the Union army’s Red River Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to join General Nathaniel Banks’s troops in northern …

Millwood State Park

Located just outside of Ashdown (Little River County) in southwest Arkansas, Millwood State Park is known for its excellent fishing and wildlife habitats. It was established about a decade after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built 29,500-acre Millwood Lake north of Texarkana (Miller County). Held in place by a 3.3-mile-long earthen dam—the longest of its type in Arkansas—the lake’s trademark timber stands have made it a bass-fishing haven by providing cover vegetation and a food source that keep the fish in shallow, more accessible water. The lake was built in 1966 on the Little River, some sixteen miles above its confluence with the Red River. In addition to the Little River, the Cossatot and Saline rivers also contribute to …

Moro Bay State Park

Moro Bay State Park is one of the most popular locations for fishing and water sports in south central Arkansas. Located at the convergence of Raymond Lake, Moro Bay, and the Ouachita River, the park also marks the junction of Bradley, Calhoun, and Union counties. Records from November 18, 1804, of the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition up the Ouachita River described “Bay Morau” as “a large inlet on the right, which swells into a considerable lake during an inundation.” Before railroads, the Ouachita River was the primary means of travel in the region, and many cotton barges used it to make their way from south Arkansas to New Orleans. In days past, the only way to get across the river was by ferry. …

Mount Magazine State Park

Mount Magazine State Park is located on the highest peak in Arkansas, Mount Magazine, which is a plateau rising out of the Arkansas River Valley to an elevation of 2,753 feet above sea level. The steepness of the elevation change, roughly 2,200 feet between its summit and the surrounding valleys, produces dramatic views that attract tourists. Native Americans did not live on the mountain year-round, instead settling at lower elevations near the Arkansas and Petit Jean rivers. However, six sites dating to the Archaic period, from 9,500 to 650 BC, have been recorded on Mount Magazine. Near the top of the mountain, in a bluff shelter, artifacts from the Woodland and Mississippian cultural periods have been found, consisting mostly of …

Mount Nebo State Park

Mount Nebo State Park, Arkansas’s second oldest state park, encompasses more than 3,000 acres on Mount Nebo, a flat-topped mesa that rises to a high point of 1,762 feet above the Arkansas River valley of west-central Arkansas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Roughly 100 acres of the park are on the tabletop portion of the mountain, the main destination of tourists visiting the area. Called Magazine by the French because of its resemblance to a barn (but not to be confused with nearby present-day Mount Magazine), the peak was a prominent landmark for early navigation on the Arkansas River and was renamed Nebo sometime after the Civil War. Louis C. White of Dardanelle (Yell County) owned land around the …

Ozark Folk Center State Park

The Ozark Folk Center State Park at Mountain View (Stone County) may be the only state park in Arkansas dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Southern mountain folkways and traditions. When opened in 1973, the park was hailed as a home for traditional crafts and music and has since become one of the important institutions preserving this particular way of life. The idea for the folk center grew from the success of the Arkansas Folk Festival, which debuted in April 1963 in Mountain View under the sponsorship of the Ozark Foothills Handicraft Guild (later known as the Arkansas Craft Guild) and the Rackensack Folklore Society. Although the Folk Festival continues to highlight the crafts and music of the area, …

Parkin Archeological State Park

Parkin Archeological State Park in northeast Arkansas preserves and interprets a Mississippian-period Native American village that existed from approximately AD 1000 to 1550. European-made trade items from the era of Hernando de Soto’s expedition recovered at the park and written descriptions of the village support theories that the Spanish visited the Parkin Site in 1541. Many archeologists believe the site may be Casqui, mentioned prominently in the de Soto journals. Remnants of Indian villages similar to the Parkin Site were once numerous in eastern Arkansas, but soil erosion, careless digging, and farming destroyed virtually all of them during the nineteenth century. The prehistoric village on the eastern bank of the St. Francis River covered about seventeen acres and was enclosed …

Petit Jean State Park

The natural beauty of Arkansas’s first state park, Petit Jean, inspired the creation of the state park system. Situated on Petit Jean Mountain, the park encompasses forests, ravines, streams, springs, vistas, and unusual geological formations preserved almost as French explorers found them in the early part of the eighteenth century. Today, Petit Jean State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Arkansas. Popular legend holds that the mountain got its name from the story of a young French girl who, in the 1700s, disguised herself as a cabin boy so that she could secretly join a company of explorers and accompany her fiancé to the New World. Petit Jean, or “Little John,” became fatally ill while the …

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

Pinnacle Mountain State Park is located in central Arkansas near the northeast corner of the Ouachita Mountains. The park’s namesake is the first prominent cone-shaped mountain encountered by early westward travelers as they emerged from the alluvial plains of east Arkansas. Its cone-like appearance has long beckoned travelers and residents alike to ascend its peak for breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Rising 756 feet from the adjacent flood plains, Pinnacle’s rocky peak reaches an elevation of 1,011 feet above sea level. The cone-shaped peak was first mentioned in the book A Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory During the Year 1819, written by naturalist Thomas Nuttall. During the colonial and early American periods, the mountain was …

Plantation Agriculture Museum

The Plantation Agriculture Museum in Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) is situated in the Arkansas River lowlands beside Horseshoe Lake, about twenty miles southeast of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The museum is dedicated to Arkansas’s rich cotton agriculture heritage. William Scott emigrated from Kentucky at an unknown date to the area that would become the town of Scott. His son Conoway Scott Sr. was born in 1815. By 1862, the Scott family owned 2,000 acres, ten slaves, and other property, valued at $37,895. Conoway Scott Sr. died in 1866 just before the birth of his son, Conoway Jr. Conoway Scott Jr. eventually operated several successful ventures, including the family plantation and a general store. Scott’s landholdings were eventually crossed by …

Poison Spring State Park

Location: Ouachita County Size: 85 acres Poison Spring State Park, west of Camden (Ouachita County), commemorates a Civil War engagement that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The Engagement at Poison Spring is remembered as a Confederate ambush of Union troops, which resulted in the massacre of many African Americans from the First Kansas Colored Infantry. The park contains interpretive exhibits, as well as picnic sites and a short trail. The name Poison Spring was known to Camden area residents at the time of the engagement and was used in battle reports, but its origins are uncertain. Later legends suggested that Union soldiers became ill after drinking the cold spring water, but no contemporary accounts confirm …

Powhatan Historic State Park

Powhatan Historic State Park preserves a small nineteenth-century river port town in Lawrence County, once a hub of northeast Arkansas commerce, industry, and government. Located on the Black River at the juncture of the Ozark Plateau and the Arkansas Delta, Powhatan pioneers had the advantages of easy river access, plentiful resources in the foothills, and fertile land. The first steamboat, the Laurel, arrived around 1829, beginning a series of landings that spanned over 100 years and stimulated civic and regional growth. Footpaths transformed into roads, a river ford into a ferry, and swampy delta into rich farmland, attracting merchants, farmers, and families. In 1837, the settlement name “Powhatan” was selected to honor the Virginia Native American chief, father of Pocahontas. …

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park preserves the site of the Civil War Battle of Prairie Grove in northwest Arkansas. Established in 1908 as a park where old veterans held reunions, it became a state park to help visitors understand the battle and its place in Civil War history as well as how the war changed the lives of the civilians in the Arkansas Ozarks. The Battle of Prairie Grove on December 7, 1862, was the last time two major armies of almost equal strength faced each other for supremacy in northwest Arkansas. The Confederate army withdrew from Prairie Grove on the night of December 7, leaving Missouri and northwest Arkansas in Federal hands. The battle was actually named after the …

Queen Wilhelmina State Park

Queen Wilhelmina State Park renewed and continues a tradition that began near the end of the nineteenth century by providing mountaintop lodging and recreation on Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest peak at 2,681 feet above sea level. With the construction of the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (now the Kansas City Southern) through the Ouachita Mountains of west-central Arkansas, railroad officials sought to increase passenger traffic by opening, on June 22, 1898, a thirty-five-room hostelry on Rich Mountain. Its 300-seat dining room was sometimes used as a ballroom where an orchestra entertained guests. Because Dutch investors had provided financing for the railroad, the lodge was named Wilhelmina Inn after Holland’s Queen Wilhelmina. The venture proved unsuccessful, and after 1900, …

South Arkansas Arboretum State Park

South Arkansas Arboretum State Park preserves native flora and fauna of the West Gulf Coastal Plain while offering educational and recreational activities for visitors. Located in El Dorado (Union County), it is Arkansas’s only natural state park located within a city. Added to the state park system in the 1990s, it is Arkansas’s fiftieth state park. The late James Riley, a biology teacher at the adjacent El Dorado High School, is credited as the driving force behind the arboretum’s creation, including securing federal education grants for land acquisition and early development. Using an office in the high school, Riley devised a plan to use land belonging to the school system for educational displays, scientific studies, and a park-like setting for …

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park near Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) is one of Arkansas’s most significant pre-European archaeological sites. Toltec, site of the state’s tallest Indian mounds, is also a National Historic Landmark. In 1812, Louis Bringier, a French explorer from New Orleans, Louisiana, traveled to present-day Arkansas and became the first European to discover the Toltec mounds. His description of the site’s “tolerably regular” alignment of mounds and the height of the two tallest mounds in contrast to the surrounding alluvial flatlands, the first such description, was reported in newspapers in 1821. William Peay Officer and his wife, Mary Eliza, purchased the area in 1849. There they maintained a residence, which they called Lake Mound Plantation and used …

Village Creek State Park

Village Creek State Park in northeast Arkansas, located six miles south of Wynne (Cross County), encompasses almost 7,000 acres along Crowley’s Ridge, preserving the ridge’s unique natural features. Park facilities occupy only a fraction of the total acreage, while the rest of the land remains in its natural state. While Village Creek Park, named for a stream that flows through the area, is classified as a “natural” state park, it also preserves part of the rich history of the region. Early settlers named the area Old Cherokee Village, though there is little evidence of Cherokee occupation outside scattered camp remnants. A section of the 1820s Military Road that once linked Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County) is still visible …

White Oak Lake State Park

White Oak Lake State Park in Ouachita and Nevada counties in southwest Arkansas provides access to fishing on White Oak Lake and other recreational opportunities, including camping, picnicking, hiking, and interpretive programs. The lake contains bass, crappie, catfish, and bream, and the park is also rich in wildlife, including great blue herons, egrets, ospreys, green herons, and bald eagles. The land that is now White Oak Lake and White Oak Lake State Park was acquired by the federal government in the 1930s through the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937. This act was intended to assist farmers during the Depression by making it possible for them to own land rather than continuing in tenant arrangements. In 1957, the State of …

Withrow Springs State Park

Withrow Springs State Park is located approximately five miles north of Huntsville (Madison County) in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. The park was created among scenic mountains and valleys in a wilderness that surrounds the site’s key feature, Withrow Spring. At first, the park was also called Withrow Spring State Park—that name appears in literature from the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism as late as the mid-1970s—but common usage has made the name Withrow Springs State Park. The spring, which has a constant temperature of fifty-four degrees, served as a common watering place for area settlers and travelers in the 1800s. No archaeological information reveals whether the spring was used prior to this time. It is named for …