When we first started talking about our spring journey from Florida to the western side of the country, Arkansas was high on the list. For several years we’ve been hearing rumors of green valleys, soft rolling hills, lakes and rivers for kayaking, impressive waterfalls, and of course, Hot Springs NP. It seemed like if the weather cooperated (meaning if we could dodge the tornados) we could spend a good amount of time roaming around this new-to-us-state.
But then we added an additional month to our house rental in the Keys and our spring travel plans were suddenly shortened. Not because we have any specific place we need to be at a certain time — although we did recently make a reservation in Denver and plans with friends — but because our ultimate goal for the summer is to be in mountains and to do that we would like to get there sooner rather than later.
So we breezed through Arkansas fairly quickly. Two weeks, two parks, and one additional stop for a special museum (blog post coming soon), and then we moved on. It was enough time to get a small taste, but not enough to feel like we truly explored Arkansas. I imagine that we’ll be back someday.
After our introductory stay in Hot Springs, we moved north to Petit Jean State Park. With lots of hiking trails, a really cool waterfall, and a private campsite surrounded by trees, it was the perfect place to enjoy some peaceful nature. The campground is fairly large, and during our stay at least, the section with only electric and water hook-ups was nearly deserted. Which meant for the first time in a really, really long time we had complete privacy. The last time that happened was probably sometime last spring while boondocking in the west.
The other side of the road, on the other hand, was a totally different story. The sites over there are all paved pull-thrus with full-hook ups. There were only one or two empty sites. We drove around the loop once and the sites were pretty nice looking with lots of space between and some great lake views. But there is zero privacy and it’s hard to justify $12/night more just for a sewer hook-up when we’re only staying 5-nights. We were more than happy in our wooded spot across the street. I intended to go back and take some photos, but then it rained for 24 hours and we left a day early so that didn’t happen. For some good photos of the full hook-ups area check out the reviews on Campendium.
It was one of those weeks when we didn’t leave the park once. Every day we got out after work to hike the trails. There are some good ones with interesting rock features, far reaching views, and of course, the famous Cedar Falls which was in rare form after a weekend of non-stop rain.