Springtime News from Petit Jean State Park


Mather Lodge Restaurant is ready to Serve You

Visitors to Petit Jean State Park are invited to check out the offerings at Mather Lodge Restaurant.  During the warmer months, the restaurant is open from 7:00 am till 8:00 pm, seven days per week.  Breakfast and lunch buffets and other specials are offered on selected dates – and there’s always a scenic view of Cedar Creek Canyon just outside the big windows!

For more information, you may call Mather Lodge at (501) 727-5431. To make a lodge or cabin reservation, you may call toll free at 1-800-264-2462.  For more information about Petit Jean State Park, you may call the park at (501) 727-5441 or contact us by e-mail at petitjean@arkansas.com.  Or visit the park’s website at http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com


“Rent-A-Yurt” Units are Now Available

For many years, Petit Jean State Park has had teepees available for rent during the warmer months.  But the park’s two teepees have recently been replaced with rentable “yurts”.  These camping facilities are similar to “Rent-A-Yurt” units that are available in certain other Arkansas State Parks.  The yurts provide more sleeping space (up to six people), as well as provide better protection from rainfall, since they don’t have a hole in the top like traditional style teepees do.  They are located along the shore of Lake Bailey near Camping Area A, along with the park’s two Rent-A-Camps (tents).  The yurts became available for rent in March, and are expected to be a popular choice for visitors looking for a comfortable location for camping at Petit Jean State Park.

To inquire about renting a yurt, or for more information about Petit Jean State Park, please contact the park by phone at (501) 727-5441 or by e-mail at petitjean@arkansas.com.  Or visit our website at http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com


Cement Sculptures at Petit Jean State Park

(Contributed by Mystina Swaim)

Spring is a great time to visit Petit Jean State Park. There are many natural and historical features in the park just waiting to be explored. Perhaps one of the park’s most unique and underappreciated handiworks just waiting to be discovered by park visitors is the small cement bridge located in the old CCC Ball Field near the newly paved CCC Hike/Bike trail.

This split-log design bridge was made from cement and sculpted by Mexican-born artisan Dionicio Rodríguez.  Rodríguez created many sculptures that imitated the natural forms and textures of trees and rocks. He worked in eight different US states over a period of about twenty years.  Most of his sculptures were created for landscape settings such as parks, gardens, and cemeteries. He practiced a technique called faux bois (imitation wood) and trabajo rústico (rustic work) in which he used rods, mesh screen wire, and rubble as underpinnings and then applied the surface coat of smooth concrete, or pure Portland cement. To design the varied textures to look like natural wood or rock, he used his hands, forks, spoons, or handmade tools. He also used secret coloring agents to form natural color on his cement sculptures. This secret mixture was often mixed inside a tent or in the trunk of his car, and he was so secretive that he would slam the trunk lid if anyone came near.   After he was done with the chemical containers used for dye, he removed the labels and broke the bottles. During the 1930s, when Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) Company V-1781 made their encampment here, this bridge arched above a goldfish pond and small flower garden.

Dionicio Rodríguez also sculpted the flower basket that now lies in rubble on the north side of the CCC Hike/Bike Trail in a grove of trees and irises a few feet toward Highway 154. This basket and the small cement bridge are but a small example of his unique work. Perhaps his most famous work in Arkansas is the Old Mill located at the T.R. Pugh Memorial Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The Old Mill and surrounding areas were used for the opening scenes of the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind.

The park is very fortunate to have a small piece of work done by this brilliant artisan. Visit Petit Jean State Park to see this astonishing cement sculpted art that adds just a little more character and sense of wonder to such a special place that is Petit Jean. For more information about Petit Jean State Park please contact the park at (501)727-5441 or by email at petitjean@arkansas.com, or visit our website at www.petitjeanstatepark.com.

Wildflower Week is April 8 -14

The public is invited to spend a week enjoying the wildflowers of spring at Petit Jean State Park.  Weekday programs will be geared toward senior citizens, while weekend programs will be family oriented.  Activities will begin at 3:30 pm on Monday, April 8th with a talk on flower pollinators by Park Interpreter Mystina Swaim, presented in the CCC Room of Mather Lodge.  Tuesday programs include a 2:00 pm presentation on using native plants in landscaping, given by special guest Betty Owen, President-elect of the Arkansas Native Plant Society, in the park’s Rec Hall.  Planned activities for later in the week include wildflower crafts, hikes and strolls, and wildflower photography.

This event is free of charge and open to the public.  For more information on Wildflower Week, see our website at http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com under “Things to Do” or contact the park at (501)727-5441 or by email at petitjean@arkansas.comComplete schedules of activities may also be picked up at the park’s Visitor Center or at Mather Lodge.


Special Weekends to be offered in May and June

“Arkansas Heritage Day” at Petit Jean State Park will be held on May 18, 2013.  May is Arkansas Heritage Month, and the public is invited to spend a Saturday celebrating the state’s rich heritage in Arkansas’s first state park.  Plans are to include programming that commemorates the Civil War Sesquicentennial, as well as programs which feature Petit Jean State Park’s historic structures.  Admission is free.

National Trails Day” is June 1, 2013. Visitors of all ages are invited to explore and enjoy Petit Jean’s eight trails of varying lengths and levels of difficulty.  This event will be filled with hikes and hiking related programs, and it corresponds with American Hiking Society programs nationwide.  Admission is free.

Petit Jean’s “Mountain Fishin' Derby” for kids will be on June 8, 2013.  This derby will be open to children ages 15 and under.  Parents are welcome to help, but the kids must do the fishing.  Bring your own bait and tackle.  Fish are stocked and prizes provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.  Admission is free.

For more information on Petit Jean State Park’s programs and activities, see our website at http://www.petitjeanstatepark.com under “Things to Do” or contact the park at (501)727-5441 or by email at petitjean@arkansas.comComplete schedules of activities may also be picked up at the park’s Visitor Center or at Mather Lodge.

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1285 Petit Jean Mountain Road - Morrilton, AR 72110 - Phone: (501) 727-5441
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