Petit Jean State Park is abundant with historical significance, and humans inhabited the area even before bow and arrows were invented. This park has one of the biggest bluff shelters in Arkansas, and when you visit, you’ll get the opportunity to see pictographs left on the walls by the Native Americans that dwelled here so long ago. Not to mention breathtaking views from the mountain that gave the park its name.
You may be wondering about that name. The story began in the 1700’s, with a French couple that was soon to be married. The man, whose name was Chavet, set out to explore some of the Louisiana Territory. He was to marry the girl when he got back, but she insisted that they marry right away so she could go with him. He refused her request, so instead, she dressed up as a man and boarded the ship without his knowledge. She took on the name Petit Jean and did well to hide her identity--until she fell ill just as they were preparing to return to France. Her only two requests as she was dying was for Chavet to forgive her, and that they bury her on the mountain. Nowadays, you can still visit her grave at the top of the mountain.
When you bring your RV for a camping trip to the park, you’ll have plenty of time and opportunities to learn all about the history of the park and see it all for yourself. During the peak season, it’s rare for the temperature to spike higher than 90 degrees. It’s still plenty hot enough though to take advantage of the swimming and boating opportunities here. During the off season, highs stay around the 50s and upper 40s. You can expect lows to get to below freezing. Whenever you visit in your RV, you’ll be sure to find lots of things to get into.
RV Rentals in Petit Jean State Park
Transportation in Petit Jean State Park
you shouldn’t run into any problems when driving through the park, even in the largest of RVs. The roads are made to accommodate all vehicles with ease. The only real restriction is on Davies Bridge, which has a weight limit of 4 tons.
There is plenty of parking inside the park, and there are usually no issues with finding spots for large vehicles and RVs. During the busy months and around holidays, when you can expect larger crowds,you may need to plan ahead, though. If parking is tough at these times, your best bet is to book a campsite and get comfy.
Campgrounds and parking in Petit Jean State Park
Campsites in Petit Jean State Park
Campgrounds at Petit Jean State Park
There are technically four campgrounds located here, and they are labeled A, B, C, and D. Many of the sites are RV friendly, and you can even choose whether you want a site with a lake view or a wooded view. There are 125 total campsites and of these, 35 have full hookups with 50-amp, water, and sewer. There are also 90 sites with just 30-amp power and water hookups. You may also be happy to hear that there are both pull-through and back-in sites available. While some sites are recommended only for smaller RVs, there are also plenty of sites that can accommodate even the largest RVs. Size restrictions vary from site to site, but you’ll be sure to find one that’s perfect for you. At each campground you’ll also have access to bathrooms with hot showers and flush toilets, so you won’t have to worry about rouging it. No matter which spot you choose to set up your rig, you’ll have everything you need.
Not too far from the lodge, you’ll find cabins that you can stay at as well. There are 33 total cabins, and 21 of them have fully functional kitchens. This can be a big plus if you’re looking for that cozy, homey feel of getting to make and eat home cooked meals while you’re staying here. If you don’t mind not having a kitchen, some of the cabins only have a fridge and microwave that you can use. No matter what kind of cabin you choose to stay at, you’ll still find a fireplace in each one. Just like the lodge, many of these cabins are pet-friendly as long as you pay a fee and show a record of their shots. You’ll also find it convenient that the cabins are close to many of the park’s attractions, such as hiking trails.
Mather Lodge is one of Arkansas’ historic treasures, and is the only lodge in Arkansas built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. You can stay at one of the 24 guest rooms located here and enjoy its rustic elegance. You’ll also get to enjoy the exquisite views of Cedar Creek Canyon outside the windows of the dining area. The evening is the perfect time to check it out too, as it offers an amazing sunset view. Another benefit to staying here is you’ll have access to a swimming pool during your stay. If you’ve brought your pet along with you during your visit, you’ll need to pay a fee and provide records of their shots in order for them to stay with you. Getting a room at the Mather Lodge is a wonderful way of enjoying Petit Jean State Park.
Seasonal activities in Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park is a beautiful park with its natural scenery, which makes it the perfect place to go for a picnic. There are plenty of picnic areas located throughout the park that you can choose from, so bring some great company along with you for a great time.
There is always something going on in the park, and you can be sure to find something to get into when you visit. Park programs range from hiking tours to education opportunities such as learning about the park’s history, nature, and geology. There’s so much to learn about at Petit Jean, and joining in on a park program is a great way to get started.
Canoeing & Kayaking
Lake Bailey is a lake located within the park that offers 100 acres for canoeing, kayaking, and more. During the summer months, you’ll be able to rent these boats from the boathouse. You can also get snacks and other supplies here as well. Taking a kayak or canoe out on the lake is a great way to work your arms and get some peace and quiet.
Along with boating, the lake is also a great place to cast your fishing line. For many, fishing is a relaxing pastime, and fishing here is a great way to immerse yourself in nature and make a few good catches. There’s plenty of fish in the lake, and you can even get supplies at the boathouse.
There are two swimming pools located within the park. One of them, an Olympic sized pool, is open to the public for whoever wishes to go for a swim. The other is available for guests staying at the park cabins or lodge. Depending on how you stay, you can take your pick and have a good time cooling off.
For the younger kids, playing on the playground here is a fun activity. Let their imagination soar as they run, climb, and go down the slides. Bringing them to the playground can be a great way to keep them active during the colder months, and you won’t have to worry about it getting too hot to play.
If tennis isn’t your thing, you can go out and shoot hoops instead on the basketball court here in the park. You can get the whole family together to play, or maybe have a one on one competition. If that doesn’t work, you can even play on your own and still have a good time.
If you’re looking for a way to get moving, there are tennis courts located in the park that are open for anyone who wants to use them. This can be a great way to get the family together and build teamwork skills with some friendly competition.
During the winter time when it’s colder, the lobby is a great place to go to get a break from the cold. The fireplace is big with seating all around, and if you’re getting together with some people, this is a popular meet-up spot. Even if you’re not meeting someone, it’s still the perfect place to get that warm, homey feel.
Many people prefer to go hiking here during the off season for various reasons. The weather is cooler, there are less bugs to worry about, and fewer crowds of people. You’ll find over 20 miles of trails of varying difficulty that go through beautiful meadows, forests, and canyons, and along streams and mountains.