One thing I love about Arkansas is that we truly experience all four seasons. So when Old Man Winter and Jack Frost are at play, I look forward to experiencing some of my favorite places from a cozy point of view.
For example, hiking the woodland trails of Petit Jean State Park in the Arkansas River Valley during warmer months to see Cedar Falls or Bear Cave is wonderful. Splashing in the pool with my family after a day of exploration is equally fun. But, winter lets me enjoy the toasty fireplaces in the lodge when we go to the restaurant or the comforting warmth of a fire in our cabin. Views from the trails or overlooks are different with leaves off the trees. The experience changes completely, yet remains familiar.
The Arkansas River Valley is blessed with three awesome peaks with state parks and cozy cabins to enjoy.
Mount Magazine – Towering over Arkansas Wine Country, Mount Magazine is the state’s highest peak at 2,753 feet above sea level. The state park located at the top of the mountain has long been a popular respite for campers, hikers and horseback riders. Now the exquisite lodge and cabins lure even more people. The Lodge at Mount Magazine, the park’s resort lodge, comprises 60 guest rooms, the Skycrest Restaurant, a conference center, a business center, an indoor heated swimming pool, a fitness center, and a game room. Set on the mountain’s south bluff, the lodge offers breathtaking views of the Petit Jean River Valley and distant Blue Mountain Lake. Forty-three guest rooms have balconies and 17 feature spa tubs. Thirteen fully-equipped cabins with deck hot tubs share the same bluff and panoramic view. Contact the park at 877-665-6343.
Mount Nebo – Rising 1,350 feet, Mount Nebo State Park also features 14 comfortable cabins with fully-equipped kitchens and fireplaces. Native stone and logs from Mount Nebo were used by the Civilian Conservation Corps to construct many of the park’s bridges, trails, rustic-style cabins, and pavilions. Park facilities include a pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, extra-large enclosed and standard open pavilions and a ball field. The visitor center offers exhibits, a store and bicycle rentals. Fourteen miles of trails encircle Mount Nebo. To contact the park, call 479-229-3655.
Petit Jean Mountain – Arkansas’s first state park and inspiration for the state park system, Petit Jean State Park’s Mather Lodge is a newly renovated rustic-style design containing a restaurant, enhanced guest rooms, 50 person room for meetings and small banquets, and a new swimming pool. Near this beautiful lodge are the park’s 33 quaint cabins. Some are 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps/rustic-style, and others are modern duplex designs. Choices include one-bedroom, three-bedroom, and studio cabins. The cabins are fully-equipped, and 21 include kitchens. Most of the cabins are spaced along the bluff of Cedar Creek Canyon. Call 800-264-2462.
Whether you’ve visited these mountaintop parks before or have yet to see their beauty, winter is just as lovely of a time to go as any other part of the year. So grab some friends, family or a significant other and get cabin fever, the good kind.