Ultimate Guide to Petit Jean State Park Arkansas

Arkansas has some of the best state parks in the USA! One of them, Petit Jean State Park, is on Petit Jean Mountain. Petit Jean State Park was one of Arkansas’s first state parks – and rightfully so. Petit Jean is home to several different activities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are epic hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous, that wind throughout the natural landscape. The park also has camping facilities for campers who want to enjoy the great outdoors in the Arkansas Ozarks area. Visitors can even rent yurts!

The amazing views and quiet serenity of nature can be even more enjoyable while spending a night or two under the stars! If you like to hike, camp, and enjoy beautiful mountain views, this state park is perfect for you! 

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Inside the Rock House Cave

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Things to Do at Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park is a favorite destination for those living in central Arkansas and those visiting out of state (like us Oklahomans). It is a great weekend getaway in Arkansas!

The park has so many outdoor activities! Folks visiting can hike, bike, canoe, kayak, camp, and spend time soaking up the mountain views.

Ready to find out where to see more views like the pictures above and below? Keep reading to get more details!

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CCC Overlook

Petit Jean State Park Hiking

Petit Jean State Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in Arkansas with jaw-dropping geology. The hiking is one of the main reasons we ended up visiting in the first place!

All of the trails we hiked were well maintained and well-marked.

Some trails are easy, while others are more difficult. Petit Jean Mountain is a naturally beautiful place to spend an afternoon exploring.

Since hiking is one of the most popular activities, we’re sharing all the best trails to hike below!

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Inside of Rock House Cave

Petit Jean Trails Not to Miss

Rock House Cave

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: ¼ mile – gravel trail
  • Time to hike: ½ hour to an hour (if taking pictures and looking for pictographs)

The Rock House Cave is a hidden gem in Arkansas. It’s just 1/4 mile from the parking lot, making it easy to access for all levels of hikers!

The cave itself isn’t a true cave. Instead, it is a huge bluff shelter. It contains jaw-dropping rock formations and drawings on its ceiling by ancient peoples who used the space.

This is a popular hike; even during the week, we waited to get photos of the Rock House without other people inside. We recommend visiting early to beat the crowds.

Trip tip: it is easier to see the pictographs using a flashlight or looking through your phone camera. Some of the pictographs are bronze-colored and need a little light to be seen.

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Rock House Cave

Seven Hollows Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderately difficult
  • Distance: 4 ½ miles – trail loops
  • Time to hike: Roughly 3-4 hours

Add hiking the Seven Hollows Trail to a breathtaking natural geologic bridge to your Arkansas bucket list!

The Seven Hollows Trail is marked with signs every ½ mile or so pointing out special and unique places designated along the trail to visit – such as The Grotto and Natural Bridge.

The well-maintained trail meanders through the forest with epic rock formations.

You don’t want to miss the Natural Bridge!

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Natural Bridge along Seven Hollows Trail

Cedar Falls Trail

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Time to hike: Roughly 2 hours

Cedar Falls Trail is one of the park’s most popular trails!

Cedar Falls is Petit Jean State Park’s famous waterfall hike. From Mather Lodge, hikers descent into Cedar Creek Canyon to the base of Cedar Falls, a 95-foot waterfall.

What makes the hike strenuous is the hike back up – it is on the steep side.

When trekking steeper trails, we like to use hiking poles (we have these) for support and stability.

If you’re not up for hiking to the base of Cedar Falls, you can see the top of Cedar Falls from the Cedar Falls Overlook Trail. The Cedar Falls Overlook Trail has a mild boardwalk overlooking Cedar Creek Canyon and the falls. It is an excellent alternative if you’re not up for another hike during your visit.

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Cedar Falls Trailhead near Mather Lodge

Bear Cave Trail

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: ¼ mile – gravel trail
  • Time to hike: ½ hour to an hour (if taking pictures and climbing on the rocks)

The Bear Cave Trail is an easy walk through fantastic rock formations. There are a few caves and tall granite formations with epic views once you climb on top.

If you enjoy taking pictures, this is a great trail to explore.

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Bear Cave Trail

Petit Jean State Park Biking

The CCC Hike & Bike Trail is a lovely, paved trail extending from Camp Area B to Mather Lodge.

The path is 1-¾ mile one-way.

Biking along the trail is a great way to see the park as well as stop and see some of the overlooks.

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CCC Hike & Bike Trail

Petit Jeans State Park Trails Map

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Petit Jean State Park Trail Map from Arkansas State Parks

Camping at Petit Jean

Enjoy spending a night or two under the stars on this gorgeous mountain top, enjoying nature’s serenity and incredible views.

Campers have plenty of space to bring an RV or camper trailer. Petit Jean State Park has a few camping areas with 125 campsites – all are pretty flat.

We stayed in Camp Area D, it was the furthest away from the lake and there were fewer campers. Camp Area D has excellent shading. It is really dark at night so don’t forget flashlights or headlamps!  

Camp Area A is right on Lake Bailey. When we visited in September Camp Area A was pretty full – it is a better place for larger RVs.

If you’re looking for something more modern, yurts are available to rent! Yurts are Mongolian-style portable huts that have become increasingly popular throughout the United States over the past several years. The yurts are right on Lake Bailey and can be rented.

Aliner Ranger 12 camper at campground
Petit Jean State Park campsite photo Camp Area D

Other Questions You Might Have Planning Your Trip

How much does it cost to go to Petit Jean State Park?

As of 2021, it is free to enter and use Arkansas State Parks.

Visitors do pay to camp and stay at any lodging.

What is significant about Petit Jean State Park?

Petit Jean State Park was Arkansas’s first state park!

It is home to incredible ancient geology and protected archeology sites.

It is also a Trail of Tear National Historic Trail Site.

What is a class B campsite?

A class B campsite has water and electric hookups but no sewer hookups for RVs, pop-up campers, and travel trailers.

Does Petit Jean State Park have cabins?

Yes, there are charming cabins and the historic Mather Lodge – home to spectacular views!

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Overlook at Mather Lodge

Is there a pool?

Yes, there are two pools at Petit Jean State Park for swimming.

The pool by the Mather Lodge is only for folks renting cabins (it has incredible views)!

Are dogs allowed?

Yes, dogs are allowed at the park and on the trails with their leash.

Are there places to rent canoes or kayaks at Petit Jean State Park?

Yes, visitors can rent canoes or kayaks to paddle on Lake Bailey at the Boathouse near the Visitor Center seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Is Petit Jean State Park open year-round?

Yes, the park is open year-round. Contact Petit Jean State Park directly for seasonal inquiries.

Is there cell phone reception at Petit Jean State Park?

The cell phone reception is minimal. We got a bar or two here and there, depending on where we were within the park. There was not consistent or strong coverage (we have Verizon).

While camping in Camp Area D, we could send the occasional text.

Can you have campfires at Petit Jean State Park?

Yes, campfires are allowed within the fire ring as long as there is not a fire ban.

Reasons to Visit Petit Jean State Park AR

The real highlight of Petit Jean State Park is its variety – there’s something for everyone here whether you want to hike, bike, canoe, or just have a relaxing time in nature.

If you’re more interested in wildlife than hiking, then you might enjoy spending some time bird-watching at Lake Bailey.

If you love outdoor activities like hiking and biking, this state park is perfect for you!

The Petit Jean area offers spectacular views and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Come and see why so many people love Petit Jean! We can’t wait to go back!

Thanks for reading!

Ashlee & Pablo


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Ashlee Fechino

I’m an outdoor recreation writer with dreams to inspire happiness. My goal is to help people live their best life by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally. I hold a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability. I’m married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! We camp in our Aliner often, love road trips, and hiking.

21 Comments

  1. Burt Randall on October 31, 2021 at 2:56 pm

    Arkansas sounds great !! Enjoy your trips there, Ashlee & Pablo !!

    • Ashlee Fechino on October 31, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Uncle Burt! Thanks so much for reading!! 😀

  2. Hannah on November 6, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Ah hiking and camping at Petit Jean State Park looks like so much fun! I’d love to try out the Bear Cave Trail. It looks like it has so many great photo opportunities! Thanks for the great guide!

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 9, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Hannah! Thanks for reading. We hope you have a nice time visiting!

  3. Megan on November 6, 2021 at 11:19 am

    Rock House cave looks like the perfect place to explore and play in! My kids would love this (and me too!)

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 9, 2021 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Megan! The kids would love Petit Jean State Park!

  4. simplyjolayne on November 6, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Arkansas has a lot of great hikes. One of the benefits of Covid is that my husband and I have explored our own state more. Next year we need to branch out.

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 9, 2021 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Jolayne! Arkansas has amazing state parks. You’ll have to head out this way when you feel comfortable.

  5. Krista on November 7, 2021 at 6:35 am

    Those rock formations are so impressive, and it’s crazy how small you look in that cave! It looks like a great state park to hike around!

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 9, 2021 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Krista! Petit Jean State Park is one of the best state parks in Arkansas! It is so neat and fun to explore.

  6. Sophie on November 10, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    I had never heard of Petit Jean State Park before but now I definitely have it on my bucket list. The geology truly is incredible. The caves look so impressive. Now I’m excited to plan a trip here!!

  7. Alex on November 10, 2021 at 10:01 pm

    omg these trails look so fun! adding this to my bucket list!

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 25, 2021 at 10:10 am

      Hi Alex! Thanks for reading our guide to Petit Jean State Park. Have fun visiting!

  8. Alaina Thomas on November 24, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    The Rock House cave and Bear Cave Trail look amazing! Not only do you get to go on a hike, but you can also see and appreciate all of the unique geological formations.

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 25, 2021 at 10:11 am

      Hi Alaina! Thanks for reading and commenting on our article. Petit Jean State Park is so fun to explore. The rocks are incredible.

  9. Alex on November 24, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    These hikes look so fun! I’ll have to add this to my list for when I visit!

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 25, 2021 at 10:12 am

      Hi there! We love reading comments like this! Have fun, Alex.

  10. Jill on November 24, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    The Bear Cave trail looks so dramatic & impressive with those huge rocks – it looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing

    • Ashlee Fechino on November 25, 2021 at 10:12 am

      Thanks for reading, Jill. Happy hiking!

  11. Shelly on November 25, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    Such great tips for this fun state park thanks!

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