In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s day, I’d like to tell you about a place I love, Petit Jean Mountain. PJ has a lot to offer for a family outing. There are extensive camping areas, cabins for those that don’t care for tents and don’t have an RV, Lake Bailey for fishing, boating ( no motors over 10 hp, sorry ski enthusiasts), and some swimming. There is a stream/river that runs down the mountain from Bailey with several pools along the way and Cedar Falls.
Petit Jean is where Winthrop Rockefeller (our 37th Governor) called home. He and his son Winthrop Paul Rockefeller contributed and continue to contribute to the enrichment of the world and the pride of the Arkansas people. What started as a breeding ranch for Santa Gertrudis cattle has turned into Winrock International, a world wide organization fighting hunger, poverty and global warming thru the use of agriculture, training, and technology. See https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/winrock-international-3042/ for more information. Thanks to Governor Rockefeller we have an airport on top of Petit Jean and the Museum of Automobiles which just added a 1981 Delorean to its collection.
The Arkansas River winds around the base of Petit Jean on its way to the Mississippi, supplying a whole different fishing and boating experience. I don’t suggest swimming in it. Some of the fish and other animals might see you as supper and the current is tricky and sometimes vicious. I spent one of the best days of my life on that river with my father and my cousin Terry. We went up river to a pile some and hit into the wildest white bass action that I have ever seen. Terry and I were pulling them in as fast as we could throw, while my dad was jigging with a fly rod next to the dike poles and pulling in some real nice black bass and crappie. And I think I remember him catching a couple of nice Channel Cats. Days like that stick with you even after over 40 years.
I hope that some of you come on up and explore Petit Jean Mountain with its beautiful landscape, terrific hiking trails, camping,and cabins. Oh, there are a couple of motels up there, too. The fishing and the history (look up the Legend of Petit Jean) , the lookouts, and the scenery are hard to beat.