Petit Jean State Park

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Petit Jean State Park
Cedar Falls Trail, Petit Jean State Park 010.jpg
Cedar Falls
Map showing the location of Petit Jean State Park
Map showing the location of Petit Jean State Park
Location of Petit Jean State Park
Map showing the location of Petit Jean State Park
Map showing the location of Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean State Park (the United States)
LocationConway County, Arkansas River Valley, Arkansas, United States
Coordinates35°07′N 92°56′W / 35.12°N 92.94°W / 35.12; -92.94Coordinates: 35°07′N 92°56′W / 35.12°N 92.94°W / 35.12; -92.94
Area3,471 acres (14.05 km2)
Named forPetit Jean Mountain
Governing bodyArkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Website[ Petit Jean State Park]

Petit Jean State Park is a 3,471-acre park in Conway County, Arkansas managed by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. It is located atop Petit Jean Mountain adjacent to the Arkansas River in the area between the Ouachita Mountains and Ozark Plateaus.

Legend and naming[edit]

According to legend Petit Jean was actually a young 18th century French woman. When she discovered that her fiancé planned to explore the Louisiana Territory, 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 fiancé, 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".

The grave of "Petit Jean" atop Petit Jean mountain.

Locals pronounce the name "PET-ih jeen" or "petty jeen".

The Park[edit]

Buildings of log and stone construction built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s are scattered throughout the park giving it a rustic feel. A 24-room historic lodge called Mather Lodge sits on the edge of a bluff of a deep forested canyon. In addition to the lodge there are 32 cabins and 127 campsites available for park visitors.

The canyon and bluffs were created by Cedar Creek, which cascades into the canyon in an impressive 95-foot (29 m) waterfall. Above the falls, Cedar Creek has been dammed to create the 100-acre (40 ha) Lake Bailey which is used for pedal-boating and fishing.

Petit Jean has a visitor center and gift shop in the center of the park and a boathouse at Lake Bailey that provides boat rentals, fishing supplies, and a snack bar. Tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool, and picnic areas are available for the use of park guests.

The Museum of Automobiles is less than a mile from the main camping areas.

The park also has several geological and archaeological features such as Bear Cave, Rock House Cave, the Grotto, Turtle Rocks, Carpet Rocks, and Natural Bridge. The scenic overlook at Petit Jean's grave provides a view of the Arkansas River Valley.

In 2017, Petit Jean was rated as the best campsite in Arkansas in a 50-state survey conducted by[1]

Panoramic view from Petit Jean Mountain overlook. Petit Jean's grave is just below, out of sight of the photo. The Arkansas River can be seen on the left.


Petit Jean State Park provides a variety of events throughout the year, ranging from mountain man rendezvous, wildflower weekend, and camping weekends to the swap meet and auto show. Mather Lodge also has special programs for guests during the Christmas season, New Year's Eve, and other holidays. A free e-mail newsletter subscription containing notices of events is available via the park's website.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The best campsite in every state". Retrieved June 9, 2017.

External links[edit]