Village Creek State Park Growing as Outdoor Retreat
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August 13, 2002Village Creek State Park
Growing as Outdoor Retreat
By Craig Ogilvie, travel writer
Arkansas Department of Parks and TourismArkansas's 31st state park, Village Creek, is located atop the geological oddity known as Crowley's Ridge. The park is popular for camping, and its two lakes provide both fishing and swimming opportunities. At Village Creek visitors will find bathhouses, 10 cabins, a marina with rental boats, picnic sites, pavilions, and a visitors center with a conference room and small theater. There are also large recreational fields, tennis courts, natural history exhibits, hiking trails, a golf driving range, an amphitheater, a gift shop, bike rentals, and popular interpretive programs. The park is located off Ark. 284, between Wynne and Forrest City. For more information call (870) 238-9406 or 1-800-264-2467 for cabin reservations, or visit www.ArkansasStateParks.com.
At nearly 7,000 acres, Village Creek State Park has space for a lot of activities. Located in the rolling hills of Crowley's Ridge, actual park facilities occupy only a fraction of the total acreage, which remains in its natural state for today's visitors and future generations.
"Most people visit the park to enjoy the outdoor beauty and recreation the Ridge offers," said Mike Brawner, the park's superintendent. "Our facilities add comfort and enjoyment while they are here."
In 1967, the Arkansas Legislature authorized a study to determine the need for a major park in the eastern part of the state. As a result, Village Creek was established in 1972 and land acquisition continued until 1978. The park was officially dedicated on June 27, 1976, and an estimated 20,000 people attended the event.
Proclaimed the largest gathering of VIPs during the American Bicentennial celebration in Arkansas, dignitaries participating in the ceremonies included U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers, U.S. Rep. Bill Alexander, Gov. David Pryor and many other regional and state leaders. The late country music star Charlie Rich, a native of the nearby Colt community, headlined the entertainment program.
Consuls general from France and Spain also participated in the program to illustrate that those countries once claimed Arkansas. The park's unique flag plaza, the visitors center and some campsites were ready for the opening, but much of the park was still under construction.
In time, more campsites were added (today there are 102 Class-A sites), and two fishing and recreational lakes, Austell and Dunn, were created. Lake Austell's reputation for great bass fishing was boosted several years ago when a 15-pound, 12-ounce largemouth was landed. The state-record is 16-pounds, four ounces. Crappie and catfish are also popular targets of visiting anglers.
One of the greatest additions to the park came in 1986 when 10 new cabins, including one barrier-free unit, opened in the wooded hills near Lake Dunn. The fully furnished units offer all the amenities for year-round use, complete with kitchens, fireplaces and screened porches.
Another change came in 1991 when remodeling at the visitors center added a 100-seat conference room and exhibit hall. "The park is a good place for small meetings and family reunions," Brawner said. "We offer a quiet, secluded setting with modern facilities and outdoor recreation as a bonus."
Thanks to the state's Amendment 75 conservation tax, Village Creek has upgraded its facilities in recent years, including renovations and additional safety features at the beaches.
"The park is still being developed," Brawner said, "and we are excited about future plans that will make Village Creek a major vacation destination in eastern Arkansas." Bids are now being accepted to construct a privately owned 18-hole championship golf course, lodge and restaurant on park property. Plans call for construction to begin in 2003, according to park officials.
The park's hiking trails range in distance from one-fourth mile to almost three miles. Historians appreciate the hike along a section of the original 1820s Military Road that first connected Memphis to Little Rock and brought thousands of pioneers westward. William Strong, a colorful politician during the state's early history and the area's first postmaster, once owned part of Village Creek.
Named for the stream that flows through the area, Village Creek State Park offers interpretive programs on a wide range of outdoor topics throughout the warm months and upon request for visiting groups all year. Special events are scheduled yearly and include wildflower walks, fall foliage tours and musical performances.####
Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"