When summer and fall arrive, Arkansas’s lodge parks will usher in meetings, welcoming planners and guests to sites that blend scenery, serenity and scrumptious meals.
The architects who designed the lodges at these parks built structures of wood and stone that fit into their natural settings. Magnificent walls of glass in lobbies and restaurants allow visitors to take in incredible views.
The state also capitalized on its natural beauty by choosing some remarkable locations. Three of the lodge parks are in the mountains. At Petit Jean, the state’s first park, guests can stay either in a timber-and-stone, 24-room lodge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s or in one of 33 cabins, most also CCC-built, all with modern amenities. Mount Magazine State Park offers a 60-room lodge and 13 cabins that stretch across a bluff on the state’s highest mountain. At Queen Wilhelmina State Park, the 40-room lodge perches on Rich Mountain, the state’s second-highest peak.
For those who prefer an island getaway, there’s DeGray Lake State Resort State Park, surrounded by the clear waters of DeGray Lake. Its 96-room lodge faces the water, affording scenic views of boats and boaters.
A twist on traditional state park resorts, Ozark Folk Center is about cultural exploration, with live music, a craft center where 20 artisans work and sell their wares, and gardens that offer fresh produce for its restaurant. This park feels like a village and welcomes overnight guests in 60 duplex-style rooms.
Each park has meeting spaces of varying sizes and styles. DeGray attracts large groups with a convention center for 300. Mount Magazine and Ozark Folk Center have flexible spaces for under 200 people. Queen Wilhelmina’s 75-person meeting room has the bonus of a balcony with mountain views. Petit Jean’s smaller meeting rooms are perfect for retreats and board meetings.
As resorts, the parks pack in plenty of amenities, many focused on the outdoors. Depending on the park, there can be mountain trails for hiking, pools for swimming, and lakes for fishing, boating and water sports. Guests can enjoy bicycles, horseback riding, picnic areas and outdoor pavilions. DeGray has a championship golf course, a disc golf course and a marina for boat rentals. The dark night skies of the mountain parks are perfect for stargazing.
Park interpreters can customize group activities, planning everything from boat tours and kayaking adventures to teambuilding challenges or group hikes to see 95-foot Cedar Falls at Petit Jean.
No two menus are alike at any of the parks’ full-service restaurants. Diners will find surprises like lamb souvlaki or spring duck salad alongside more traditional fare. Ozark Folk Center’s house dressing is a customer favorite made with herbs from its own garden. Southern dishes like fried chicken and catfish lead to mouthwatering homemade fried pies or peanut butter pie. All of the restaurants offer catering services, and all source ingredients from local producers as much as possible.
That’s just one more way these parks impart a sense of place, and, ultimately, help their guests walk away feeling inspired.
For more information:
To plan your meeting, you can directly contact each park for friendly assistance. Find more information at ArkansasStateParks.com.