Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mt. Magazine

There's something about Arkansas in October that inspires us to sit around a campfire. Our woodsy, spacious, quiet site here at Mt. Magazine State Park has been just the place to enjoy some quality time in the great outdoors.

From our fireside seats, we enjoyed this view. Isn't it something? The colors have started to come alive here on the mountain this week.

We are in Site #2 of the park's 34-site campground. Here we have the best of both worlds: a beautiful, rustic setting with full hookups. Parking a 40-foot moose in a state park can be a dicey proposition. But, there are several sites here where Bullwinkle fits quite easily. (If you decide to park your big rig here, we strongly suggest driving south on Highway 309 from Paris. It's hilly and curvy in spots, but it's nothing compared to the drive north to the park from Havana. Trust us.)

With a dozen trails in the park, we've enjoyed hiking through the changing colors of this mountain forest.

The Signal Hill trailhead is just steps from the moose. So, we've made more than one trek to the top of the hill. At its peak, Mount Magazine tops out at an elevation of 2,753, making it the highest point in the state. 

From its highest point, you can see a lot of Arkansas! As we looked to the north on this not-exactly-clear day, we could see all the way to Paris. (Paris, Arkansas, of course!)

Paul walked to the edge of the mountain to check out this view of the sprawling Ozark National Forest below. (No, I didn't get quite that close!)

Though we're miles away from a town, a taste of civilization is just a mile away by trail, or a few minutes by Jeep. The Lodge at Mt. Magazine is the crown jewel of the mountain. The lodge features 60 guest rooms, an indoor pool and a full-service restaurant, where we enjoyed several tasty meals.

The public spaces in and around the lodge welcome visitors to sit, relax and enjoy the view. With limited cell and data service at our site, the lobby provided a comfortable, sunny spot for us to catch up on our communications. Not a bad "office" at all!

From its dramatic bluff setting, the lodge offers breathtaking views of the Petit Jean River Valley and Blue Mountain Lake. There are 13 guest cabins adjacent to the lodge that also enjoy this sweeping vista. (We were tempted to check in!) Whether you have an RV or not, Mt. Magazine is a wonderful place to enjoy an Arkansas mountain getaway.

We day tripped to "civilization" in Russellville, which is some 50 miles from the park. Along the way, we spotted a plume along Lake Dardanelle. Arkansas Nuclear One is the only nuclear power plant in the state. This isn't something you see every day!

Before reaching Russellville, we stopped by Mt. Nebo State Park. The 34 campsites in this beautiful park are limited to tents and small trailers. No trailers longer than 24 feet are allowed on the road to the park. Bullwinkle will never see the many hairpin turns up (and down) the mountain. But, Rocky loved it.

Rising 1,350 feet, Mt. Nebo is smaller than its neighbor, but its views are still quite spectacular. Sunset Point offers a sweeping view to the west, and the Ouachita (pronounced sort of like Wichita) Mountains. When French explorers came to the area in the 1600s, they named the range the Magasins, which is French for "storehouse", which these mountains resemble. Mt. Nebo was originally named Mt. Magazine. But, that name was transferred to the highest point in the range. According to local folklore, after the Civil War a resident named the mountain after the biblical Mt. Nebo, from which Moses saw the Promised Land.

When we came off the mountain, we weren't in search of the Promised Land. Rather, we were definitely ready for lunch. Before stocking up on provisions in Russellville, we stopped by Feltner's Whatta-Burger, which is a local institution. Not to be confused with Whataburger, a Texas-based institution we're quite fond of, this one-of-a-kind joint serves up fast food with a side of friendly Arkansas service. We took advantage of the lunch special, which features a cheeseburger, crispy fries and a thick shake for just five bucks. What a deal! Don't know that we'd make a 100-mile roundtrip just for lunch. But, it was a tasty highlight of our sightseeing day. If you find yourself on I-40 between Little Rock and Ft. Smith, it's definitely worth a stop. (There's plenty of parking, but it's not RV friendly.)

Back at our spot at this "island in the sky", we've watched the weekenders reluctantly pack up and make their way home. We're enjoying one last night at Mt. Magazine. Tomorrow, our Arkansas exploration continues as we head south to Hot Springs.


Darren and Joyce Romero said...

Looks like a great campground. We will have to put it on our list of future destinations.

Sue Bidniak said...

looks like a lovely state, my friend, once again are a blogging machine!!!

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Beautiful area, enjoy:)

Paul and Marti Dahl said...

Wow, what a find. Looks like we need to spend more time in Arkansas!

Phyllis said...

We'd stay in more state parks if the sites were larger. So many of them we just can not fit into either.

Used always like Whataburger (the Texas ones)but last time it left a whole lot to be desired. Perhaps it was just a bad restaurant. Will surely give them another try.

Randy and Pam Warner said...

Great post! What a beautiful park. Great photos!

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