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Queen Wilhelmina State Park is located in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. The mountains span from Western Arkansas to southeastern Oklahoma. The state park was first built by the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad; it was originally a lodge to house passengers on the railroad. Many of the investors in that railroad were from the Netherlands, and thus the lodge was named for Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands. The lodge gained the nickname “Castle in the Sky” due to its location. The lodge is on Rich Mountain, Arkansas’s second highest peak.
Rich Mountain is located in Polk County, Arkansas near Mena. Outdoor enthusiasts who have an RV rental near Queen Wilhemina State Park can reach Hot Springs in about two hours, Texarkana in a little over two hours, and Fort Smith in about an hour. The Oklahoma state line is less than ten minutes away, the Texas state line is about two hours away, and the Louisiana line is about three hours away.
Polk County has a humid, subtropical climate. The winters are mild; the summers are hot. Snow is fairly common in Mena, Arkansas but it only snows about an inch or two each month of the winter. In the mountains, snow is much more common.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park is a part of the greater Ouachita National Forest, a popular reason to book an RV in Polk County. The state park is centered around the lodge that was built by the original railroad. The first lodge fell into disrepair and was discontinued in the 1910s. A second one was built, but it fell out of use after a while as well. The third lodge was completed in 2015 and currently offers food, lodging, and insight into the interesting history of the area.
Outdoor lovers can also take part in guided hikes through the state park. They will learn about unique flora and fauna in the area. There are several unique varieties of wildflowers that grow in the area. There are also opportunities to view deer, skunks, rabbits, black bears, and raccoons. Furthermore, the guides are able to teach about the geology of the area. Geology enthusiasts who book an RV in western Arkansas might find this enlightening.
The park has three hiking trails with differing difficulties. Many birdwatchers rent an RV near Ouachita National Forest to watch birds along these trails. Lastly, visitors can access the Ouachita National Recreation Trail from the park; the trail stretches 223 miles, ending at the Winding Stair Mountains in Oklahoma.
The lodge is the cornerstone of the Queen Wilhelmina State Park. While many travelers enjoy camping with an RV, many still choose to stay at the lodge. The lodge has hotel-like accommodations and a restaurant serving Southern fare. There are still just as many guests who choose to stay at the campgrounds, though.
The park has over 40 campsites. A minority of the campsites have 50 amp electric hookups and water. Most of the sites have water hookups and 30 amp electric hookups. A smaller number have water and no electric hookups. From their campsite, visitors can walk to a bathhouse with showers.
There is also a dump station for sewage. campsites can be reserved in advance, or they can be booked at the gate. The sites are back-in sites with concrete parking pads. Lastly, the campgrounds are close enough to the park and to larger towns that most visitors have WiFi and cell access.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park is often the main attraction for those with an RV and enjoy state park camping. There are, however, other attractions that might be of interest. Board Camp Crystal Mine is often a stop for families. The mine is a legitimate quartz mine that has been opened to the public. Entire families are able to spend an afternoon mining for quartz and keep what they find.
The Kansas City-Southern Depot is a defunct railroad depot that was built by the Kansas City-Southern railroad company. The depot is now a museum that highlights the history of railroading in and around Mena, Arkansas. This could be an interesting companion to the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, which was also originally a railroad stop.
Janssen Park is a small park that was built in 1896 in anticipation of the railroad coming to Polk County. The park is named for one of the original investors to the railroad. The park has walking trails, bridges, and water features. There is also a covered area for groups to gather.
Rich Mountain fire tower is a tower that was built to overlook Rich Mountain and Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The tower was originally designed for someone to climb to the top and to watch the surrounding landscape for signs of a fire. It is an interesting and important piece of Rich Mountain history.
Those who rent an RV in Mena can find food at the state park itself. They can also visit many of the surrounding areas to find Southern food, international cuisine, and well-known national chains. Gas stations and truck stops are all along major thoroughfares around Queen Wilhelmina State Park. Exploring Western Arkansas is just an RV rental away.