Roger here.... Remember the movie Vacation? Chevy Chase drove for hours, stopped at an overlook of the Grand Canyon, got out of the car, took a picture, nodded, gawked for a moment, got back in the car, and drove away. Much of our last day at Petit Jean State Park resembled that mode of touring. Instead of one long hike, we enjoyed several short stops.
Red Bluff Drive...
We loaded the dogs in the back seat of the car for a day full of fun.
The five-mile Red Bluff Drive (dirt road) took us to two different overlooks from the top of Petit Jean Mountain. The Panoramic Views looked down on the green valleys of rural Arkansas. Unfortunately, it was somewhat hazy that day; however, the views were still beautiful.
Rock House Cave....
As the Red Bluff Drive was ending, we pulled into the Rock House Cave parking area for a unique experience. The hike to Rock House cave was only 1/4 mile, but it certainly was an interesting and scenic walk.
The first part of the trail passed through an expansive section of the turtle rocks that we had seen before. They really do look like turtle shells.
Bandido leads the way down the hill.
Rock House Cave appeared as we turned a corner.
While not technically a cave, it was certainly a spacious room underneath the overhanging rock. Dianne is standing underneath the opening to demonstrate its massive size.
The views from the inside to the outside gave a different perspective.
Ancient Native American pictographs could be found on the ceiling with a little effort. Pictographs are different than petroglyphs in that they are painted on surfaces rather than etched into the rock. In this "cave" Dianne and I were able to find several of the red paintings, but it did take a little patient searching. What do you think they might represent?
We spent about thirty minutes in the cave before climbing back up the steps...
... back through the turtle rocks....
... and a cool drink of water before driving to the next stop.
A four-mile drive took us to an overlook on the other side of the park. Stop, take pictures, gawk, get back in the car.
Bear Cave Trail...
Just down the road, the 1/4 mile Bear Cave Trail was really not a trail at all.
It was more like a walk through the giant boulders. Multiple intersecting pathways wound around, under, over, and through these giant rocks. We pretty much followed our instincts to find the most interesting passages.
I think we should go this way.
Did I mention that my dog loves to climb rocks?
Hey Tequila! Look, a lizard!
Petit Jean's Grave...
After our romp through the boulders we traveled in the car to the opposite side of the state park to see Petit Jean's grave. Who was Petit Jean anyway? She was a French girl who disguised herself as a boy so she could work as a cabin boy on a ship to the new world. She wanted to be near her fiancé and have an adventure. As a girl, she would not have been allowed to make the trip. She became very ill in this part of Arkansas. It was discovered that she was actually a girl whom her fiancé had not recognized on board the ship. Tragically, she passed away from her illness.
|Petit Jean's Grave|
|The legend of Petit Jean|
The panorama with the Arkansas River in the background may be the best in the park.
We could not miss the stone fireplace and skeletal walls when we drove into the Petit Jean Grave parking area. We walked across the parking lot to check it out. The fascinating stonework was the ruins of a former YMCA lodge that was built in 1928.
Our stay at Petit Jean State Park (pronounced Petty Jeen for those who are not Arkansans) was too short. This was a place we did not want to leave. We intend to return.
Next stop, Maumelle Park on the Arkansas River near Little Rock.
The pet pictures of the day show Bandido checking out a fluffy Australian Shepherd near Petit Jean's grave....
|Hey, she's pretty cute!|
.... and Tequila taking one of her frequent breaks.
|Sorry 'bout rolling in the dirt, Mom; I just had to do it!|