Top 10 Reasons to Visit Village Creek State Park
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March 12, 2004Top 10 Reasons to Visit Village Creek State Park
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Covering more than 6,900 acres, Village Creek near Forrest City in east Arkansas is the second largest of the state parks in The Natural State. Since opening in 1976, the park has steadily gained popularity as visitors have experienced its natural beauty and taken advantage of its numerous facilities and recreational opportunities. Listed below are the top 10 reasons park officials say people are drawn to Village Creek. Undoubtedly, though, the list will change -- or at least grow -- once a planned 27-hole championship golf course and a 124-room lodge, complete with a restaurant and convention center, are constructed. (State park officials are negotiating a long-term lease with a corporation, and, subject to approvals and funding, they hope to finalize the details within the next few months.) 10. What's with that ridge?
Those driving west on Interstate 40 near Forrest City can see -- for miles to both the north and the south -- a distinct ridge rising from the flat, fertile land of the Arkansas delta, technically the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Crowley's Ridge stretches for more than 200 miles from near Cape Girardeau in southeast Missouri, through much of eastern Arkansas, ending at Helena on the Mississippi River. The prevailing theory among geologists is that the ridge, which rises as high as 200 feet above the surrounding landscape, was formed eons ago when the ancestral Mississippi and Ohio rivers flowed on its two sides, carving away the surrounding land and leaving the ridge in the middle. It is also believed that over the ages, deposits of wind-blown soil added to the ridge's height. A sparsely traveled, winding road, Crowley's Ridge National Scenic Byway, which follows the ridge in Arkansas, is one of only two roadways in the state to have received such a prestigious designation. 9. To spot unusual green things.
Much because of the ridge's unusual geology, Village Creek State Park is home to a variety of unusual plants and trees. Tuliptrees, which are named for their large colorful blooms and found nowhere else in the wild in Arkansas, are plentiful at Village Creek, where the park's staff has also been known to make maple syrup from sugar maples. Not commonly found elsewhere in Arkansas, abundant beech trees at Village Creek add to the park's appeal, and during the spring, large yellow lady slippers, a species of rare wildflowers, bloom here, too.8. Learning can be fun.
Those visitors wanting to know more about Village Creek's unusual geology or flora -- or wildlife or history -- can take advantage of the park's interpretive programs. Offered throughout the year, programs include topics and activities such as Native Americans, wildflowers, butterflies, bats, deer, nature hikes, Dutch-oven cooking and astronomy.7. To drive.
Yes, a chance to drive Crowley's Ridge National Scenic Byway often serves as the impetus for visits to Village Creek, but many park-goers are pleasantly surprised to find a 300-yard driving range complete with rental golf clubs (an entire set for only $5 per use).6. You won't hear the kids say, "We're bored!"
While some campgrounds may not offer much more than camping alone, there's plenty to do at Village Creek. There are large multi-use fields, where on warmer days visitors might be found playing anything from volleyball, soccer or touch football to croquet or Frisbee. The park also has six tennis courts, two swimming areas and two playgrounds, and bicycles can be rented at its visitor center ($1.50/hour or $8/day). 5. Cozy cabins.
Camping is big here, but not everyone enjoys the great outdoors enough to want to spend the night in a tent. These individuals will find that they can enjoy the natural beauty and activities of the park, and then return to a cozy cabin. The park has three- and one-bedroom cabins, as well as two-bedroom cabins and duplexes, all of which have fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens, linens and towels, and outdoor grills. Rates range from $110 to $67 per night.4. Bass. Big ones and lots of 'em.
Village Creek State Park is home to two small lakes, Austell and Dunn, both of which have gained reputations as excellent bass fisheries. These lakes are relatively new; they were built after the park opened in 1976. But because of a well-managed Arkansas Game and Fish Commission stocking program, which included the introduction of Florida-strain largemouths, they consistently produce monster-sized bass. In 1987, fishermen caught at least 15 over-eight-pounders on Lake Austell, including three that weighed in at more than 12 pounds. And the good times have continued. Mike Brawner, the park's superintendent since 1984, says "It's not unusual for at least one 14-pounder come out of Austell each season. We probably have more 'wall-hangers' come out of these lakes than any other small lake in Arkansas. The third-largest largemouth bass in Arkansas came out of Austell. It was 15 pounds, 12 ounces. The state record is 16 pounds, 4 ounces." Brawner says Austell is such an ideal largemouth fishery because it includes shallow, timber-filled pockets as well as depths of more than 100 feet near the dam. Anglers on the two lakes are not limited to largemouth bass; catfish, crappie and bream are regular catches, too. Both Austell and Dunn have launch ramps and boat docks, and the park sells bait and rents boats, including ones with electric motors. Rental boat prices range from $9-$25 per day. 3. To put some miles on your hiking boots ... or your horse's hooves.
Village Creek State Park has four hiking trails -- ranging from moderate to easy -- that total some seven miles. These include a short arboretum trail and two that provide vistas of the park's lakes. "You'll see all types of wildlife on the trails," Brawner says, rattling off animals such as deer, turkey and a variety of birds. "We also have 15 miles of equestrian trails, which can be used by hikers as well."2. There are no camping conundrums here.
Village Creek offers some of the most scenic and spacious campsites in Arkansas, and there are more than 100, all with water and electric hookups, from which to choose. The park's three camping areas are also located on loops, meaning those who’ve come to the park for day-use activities have no need to drive through the campgrounds. Construction is also under way to enlarge and add sewer connections to several sites in order to make them more accommodating to campers in recreational vehicles. Work is expected to be complete this fall. 1. To get away from it all.
It usually sinks in when driving to Village Creek on Crowley's Ridge National Scenic Byway, passing pastoral countryside scenes and numerous peach orchards -- the park is a respite, a perfect place to relax and unwind in the midst of a beautiful natural setting. Yes, there's lots to do here, but there's also lots to leave behind when here. Village Creek State Park is located on Ark. 284 13 miles north of Forrest City and Interstate 40 (exit 242). For more information about the park -- or for campsite or cabin reservations -- phone (870) 238-9406. More information is also available at www.ArkansasStateParks.com.####
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"