There are so many state parks in Arkansas that it was hard to choose just one to visit while we are on our way back to Iowa. After looking at a bunch of stuff we decided to head to Petite Jean State Park. It looked like it would be a beautiful place to visit and we weren't disappointed.
The park is named after a young French woman, Petit Jean. When she discovered that her fiancee had signed on with De Soto to explore the area, she cut her hair, disguised herself as a boy and managed to find a position as a cabin boy. She survived the voyage and the expedition began their exploration. Once they had reached the area of the mountain, the young woman became ill, on her deathbed she revealed herself to her fiancee, and was buried on the mountain, not under her own name, but under the name she had been known by on the ship 'Little John'.
Petit Jean State Park houses one of the largest and most magnificent Bluff Shelters in the state. We hiked to it via Rock House Cave Trail. The bluff shelter was once home to Native Americans well over a thousand years ago. These bluff dwelling Native Americans used the shelter as their house, and lived as nomads, hunters, and gatherers. They hunted with spears, as they had yet to invent the bow and arrow. The natives also left behind evidence of their existence. Today, evidence can be seen in the form of pictographs located high on the back wall of the cave. These pictographs were painted using minerals from the rocks in the area. The pictures all tell a story that was important to the Native Americans but no one today is sure what they mean.
We also took the boardwalk and steps to the Cedar Falls. The walkway was built by the CCC and has probably been repaired several times but it is in good shape. Other parts of the hiking trails have not been as well maintained.
We ate lunch at the Mather Lodge and sat looking out at the canyon below the lodge. Another awesome view. We both had hamburgers which were a bit pricey but really good.
There are several spectacular overlooks in this park where you could just sit all day and look out in awe.
We had a great day in the park, headed home late and had to drive most of the way in the dark.