As we ascended the mountain into the ever-deepening fog, we were barely able to glimpse the multitudes of yellow wildflowers that lined the winding two-lane road. Yes, my husband and I were on another adventure—this time to Mount Magazine State Park in Paris, Arkansas.
By the time we arrived at the state park lodge, we were barely able to make out the building, much less the view from this, the tallest mountain in Arkansas. Once in the lodge, however, we were greeted by a warm welcome from the friendly, masked receptionist and a roaring fire in the fireplace.
To remain safe during this Covid-19 road trip, we had limited our overnight stays to cabins or rooms that had outside entrances with the Mount Magazine Lodge being the one exception. We were extremely please, though, by the wide halls, social distancing, and the fact that everyone we saw was wearing a mask. Every one of the 60 rooms in the lodge overlooks the Petit Jean River Valley below. In addition, the restaurant and indoor pool both have floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outside in to the beautiful rustic lodge. Thirteen cabins share the beautiful view, but they were already booked when we made our reservations.
Most of the large lodge rooms are furnished with mini fridges, microwaves, and coffee makers so you could make your own meals. There is not a grocery or restaurant for many winding miles, so bring your food or be prepared to eat at the Skycrest Restaurant which is located in the lodge. We usually take breakfast and lunch and then go out for dinner. However, during Covid-19, going out has been replaced by taking out so we picked up dinner at the lodge’s restaurant. The menu was very limited, probably because we were there in the off-season. We were surprised that a pizza of some sort was not available since there were many families present, but the food was good.
The next morning, we waited until the sun burned off the fog before heading out to hike the North Rim trail recommended by Joe Jacobs in “Seven Favorite Day Hiking Trails in Arkansas.” The trail was overgrown in some parts and the fog made it a little slippery, but not dangerously so, so on we hiked until we reached the Visitors Center for a break before we returned via the same path.
After lunch on our balcony overlooking the view that we could now see, we took the Signal Hill hike to the tallest spot in Arkansas. At 2,753 feet, the spot isn’t tall by some other states’ standards, but the view is outstanding. Scenic lookouts were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and still stand as testaments to the program FDR implemented to provide work and financial aid for people who were literally starving during the Great Depression.
All too soon, it was time to leave, but the mountain still had one more surprise for us. At the road’s dead end, should we turn towards Paris or Havana? Thank goodness for Google maps!
– Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers.