Family fun at Mississippi River State Park
I’ll start this blog by saying, yes, I am biased. I love the Arkansas Delta more than any place I can think of, but I’m REALLY biased when it comes to the Mississippi River State Park in Marianna. I have my reasons. A. It’s beautiful. B. I remember spending a lot of time there as a child before it was an Arkansas State Park. C. It’s in my hometown. D. Family memories flood back whenever I enter the park.
All that aside, it is an amazing place to spend some time with family and friends. Let’s discuss, shall we?
Mississippi River State Park outside Marianna is actually located within the St. Francis National Forest. I think it’s only fair I give full disclosure, dear reader — my first job out of college was on the St. Francis. Again, I loved it then and now because I spent a lot of time with family on the St. Francis making memories that I’ll carry the rest of my life.
We can’t really talk about the park without talking first about the forest. Most of the St. Francis National Forest is situated on Crowley's Ridge, but some is in the low, flat lands along the Mississippi and St. Francis rivers. The St. Francis National Forest is the only place in the National Forest System where the public can experience the awesome grandeur of the mighty Mississippi River from the shoreline. The forest covers over 22,000 acres and has a variety of the finest bottomland hardwoods in the country. There are also two Scenic Byways that pass through the St. Francis – the Great River Road National Scenic Byway and Crowley’s Ridge Parkway National Scenic Byway. Driving along either of these historic roads gives you a great opportunity to do some wildlife watching. The forest provides ideal habitat for a large variety of wildlife including whitetail deer, wild turkey, squirrel, raccoon, rabbit and waterfowl.
Mississippi River State Park is actually the newest of our 52 state parks in Arkansas. The park offers great camping, water activities (boating, kayaking, fishing and swimming) and hiking. The park’s visitor center tells the story of the Mississippi River and its importance to the area and invites visitors to study, observe and explore the Arkansas Delta, the Mississippi River, and Crowley’s Ridge. Discovery-based and interactive exhibits connect visitors to the natural, cultural and historic resources of the Mississippi River State and the St. Francis National Forest. The grounds of the visitor center offer a great fishing pond and trails with interpretive panels.
Let's review. Mississippi River State Park is the perfect getaway, whether you're wanting to camp, fish, boat, kayak or hike. Or — my favorite — just relax and take in the beauty of the Arkansas Delta. So if you’re looking for a great family getaway this month — or any month, really — I suggest Mississippi River State Park. It’s amazing. Trust me.