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TheVBs
08-04-2010, 03:33 PM
After a few days in St. Louis, we travelled down to Arkansas to stay in Petit Jean State Park. Again, July was not the ideal time for a visit, it was very hot. But, wow!! What an incredible place!

We spent the first three nights in a duplex cabin that was very nice, but small and had no kitchen. We were able to move into a larger cabin for the last two nights - beautiful! It was huge, had a full kitchen and had an incredible view. The duplex was only $75 a night and the full sized cabin with kitchen was only $100. Quite a bargain. There was a main lodge with rooms as well, not sure what the cost on those were, and a full service restaurant with good food and decent prices. The restaurant had one full glass wall that opened up onto a balcony. The view from there was breathtaking. There were lots of birdfeeders out, so we got to see a few birds (mostly squirrels eating out of them), and best of all, hummingbirds! The pool is great. It actually had a 10' deep end! Haven't seen that in a long time. We were told it was going to be redone with only a 4' deep end. This place was only a laundry facility short of being perfect.

The trails were incredible. We did Cedar Falls, Rock House Cave which had 500 year old paintings in it, and Bear Rock Cave. Even though it was hot, there was usually a lot of shade on the trails and a steady breeze. They have a nice variety of trails in terms of length and difficulty.

We had two day trips from the park. One was to Hot Springs National Park, which is actually a little town. It was a fun and interesting trip. There's one whole street of old Bathhouses on one side, but you can only walk into one. It's free to tour and everything's been kept as it was in the early 1900's. You can buy empty glass jugs there that say, something like, "I personally collected this in Hot Springs, AR". You can fill them up at one of the many areas the springs come up in fountains. Most of the areas keep the water hot - and it is hot! But there are a few fountains that cool the water first. There were a lot of shops there, mostly tacky touristy stuff, but also one whole strip of antique stores. If you like antiquing, there are stores everywhere down there!

Our second day trip was to Crater of Diamonds state park, where you can dig in the dirt of an extinct volcano and find diamonds - you keep what you find! Nearly 100 degrees and four hours later we had no diamonds. :( But I'm glad we did it. It was a long drive from Petit Jean, about 3 1/2 hours, which meant a looooong time in the car for one trip. I thought my girls would be totally into it, but the extreme heat was too much. Maybe a better fit for older kids. But, they were rewarded with the water park that is right there - what a stroke of genius! It felt like heaven after the diamond park.

On our way home we stopped at Blanchard Springs Cavern, about 2 1/2 hours north of Petit Jean. Agian, wow!! We took the Dripstone tour which was the shortest, an hour, and the oldest section so you saw the most formations. Some of the formations resemble things. We had a great, fun tour guide who pointed everything out. Of course, I would swear one looked like Cinderella's castle, but it might have been just me. :blush:

Like St. Louis, everyone was so nice and friendly! It really gave us a touch of that Disney feeling.

WelshieLover
08-04-2010, 05:52 PM
Thanks for sharing this with us!

MNNHFLTX
08-05-2010, 06:09 PM
Sounds like the Arkansas portion of your trip was wonderful! Glad you found time to check out Blanchard Springs Cavern, it was one of the highlights of our trip to Arkansas last summer. :)

TheVBs
08-06-2010, 02:35 PM
It was wonderful! I was happy to share both trip reports after getting so much help from people here on Intercot for both Disney and non-Disney vacations. :mickey: Hope these help someone else.

Next year is a Disney year! :) We'd like to go in Oct. to see the Food and Wine festival and go to the Halloween party. Both would be firsts for us. Unless I can't wait that long, then we'll go in May. :blush:

NJGIRL
08-09-2010, 07:40 AM
Great trip report. These are places I never thought of going but they seem like they have alot of interesting things to do so they may end up on my list!