Showing posts with label State Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label State Park. Show all posts

Texas - Huntsville State Park

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Huntsville State Park is located in the piney woods of east Texas about one hour north of Houston.  If you choose to visit Huntsville State Park you will have 2,000 acres to explore! Our family spent a weekend in September 2021 camping at this lovely state park.  Read on to learn more about our trip.

Texas - Caprock Canyons State Park

 "Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play."  In June of 2021 we found such a place when we spent three days at Caprock Canyons State Park in the panhandle of Texas. While we did not see any antelope or deer we did see plenty of buffalo! Read on to learn about our camping adventures out in west Texas.

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Texas - Daingerfield State Park

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Are you searching for a peaceful place to spend a few days in nature? If your answer is yes, let me share with you Daingerfield State Park. Read on to learn more about our stay.

Texas - Camping at Tyler State Park

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As newbs to the camping world we were still learning the ins and outs of RV camping when we booked Tyler State Park in July 2020. We were lucky to get a lakeside campsite on a weekend. Tyler State Park has something to offer anyone who loves the outdoors.

Texas - Lake Livingston State Park Camping

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We purchased our 2014 Palomino Puma we call True in June of 2020. Within three weeks we booked our first camping trip. Being first time travel trailer owners, we didn't want to pull it far from home.  Lake Livingston State Park checked all of the boxes for us - close to home, full hookups, on a lake, and more! 

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a diamond in the rough in an otherwise unimpressive landscape. One minute you are driving the flat lands of the panhandle of Texas, the next you are surrounded by shear beauty. 

Lake Tawakoni State Park

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Lake Tawakoni State Park is located in north east Texas near Wills Point.
On a (record high) hot summer day we visited Lake Tawakoni State Park. This state park is located in north east Texas near the town Wills Point.  

Mother Neff State Park

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Located about 35 minutes from Waco, Texas.
On a warm July day we decided to take the scenic route and stop by Mother Neff State Park on our way to Austin. Mother Neff State Park is located in central Texas near Waco.  It was the first state park in the Texas Parks system.  

The Hill Country of Texas - A Fun Family Adventure!

As spring break was approaching I began looking for places for us to visit for a couple of days.  I started out looking for destinations far away we could fly to.  However, I quickly realized during spring break airfare was too expensive for our budget, so I opted for a road trip.  After considering several locations, I selected the Texas Hill Country! 

We were really lucky that spring had come early to Texas & the bluebonnets & wildflowers were blooming. This made an already alluring part of our great state even more beautiful!

Where is the Texas Hill Country? 
The Texas Hill Country is a 25 county area of Central & South Texas. The major metropolitan areas include Austin & San Antonio.  We have previously visited both of these cities & this trip we were looking for small town charm.  To learn more about the Texas Hill Country towns & cities you can visit the Texas Hill Country website.

The Beauty of Beavers Bend, Oklahoma

View from dam.
Oklahoma is NOT all flat lands! I know that was the vision I had about the state & I was wrong! The southeastern corner of Oklahoma proves that towering pines, rolling hills, & beautiful lakes & rivers exist in the Sooner State!

In the southeastern corner of Oklahoma you will find the quaint town of Broken Bow with a population of 4,142. About 10 miles from the town of Broken Bow there are two state parks - Beaver's Bend & Hochatown.  The state parks are adjacent to each other with Broken Bow Lake on Hochatown State Park & Mountain Fork River on Beaver's Bend State Park. Beaver's Bend/Hochatown State Park are located 3 hours from Dallas, Texas, Little Rock, Arkansas, & Shreveport, Louisiana making it an easy drive. 
Broken Bow Lake from Lakeview Lodge

A trip to Broken Bow has been on our family bucket list of destinations for several years. I have heard numerous people say what a great place it is to visit. We traveled to the park the first weekend in March. Even though the leaves on the trees were just starting to bloom, it was quite beautiful. I could only imagine the splendid colors that are displayed during fall foliage. One day we will have to travel back to see the spectacular colors God displays during autumn. 
Creek on the Forest Heritage Trail

If you seek a family getaway where you can enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors you should book a trip to Beavers Bend/Hochatown State Park. This family vacation will provide you with quality family time while not breaking the budget. 
Mountain Fork River From Spillway
 What is there to do?
So you have decided you want to get away from it all BUT you do not want to be bored... Here are some of the many activities you can enjoy on your trip to Southeastern Oklahoma. 
  • Admission to Beaver's Bend & Hochatown State Park is FREE! Making for a great vacation for the family on a budget. A visit to these state parks will give you & your family 3,482 acres to explore & reconnect with one another. 
  • Fishing in Broken Bow Lake or Mountain Fork River. The Lower Mountain Fork River offers year round trout fishing throughout a 12 mile portion of the lower river. A six day license for out of state visitor will cost $35.  A one day license is $15.
  • Kayak or canoe down Mountain Fork River from spring to fall. The cost for a kayak or canoe ranges from $30-$50.  Our family was not able to kayak or canoe because we did not want to end up in the cold early March river when our canoe or kayak capsized.  It is inevitable that we would have ended up in the water... When we return in the summer this will definitely be an activity we will do. Wild Goose Canoe comes highly recommended.
Don't miss the Broken Bow Lake Duck Tour!
  • Duck Tours - For a one of a kind tour of Broken Bow Lake your family must take a duck tour.  It is fun for the kids & adults in your family. The guides are top notch & you will not be disappointed. The cost is $20 for adults & children aged 4-12 are $15. Children under 3 are free when lap riding. 
  • Go-Karts & miniature golf. There are several options for go-karts & miniature golf in the Broken Bow area.  The cost associated with go-karts is $8  & you must be 58" tall to drive the kart. Miniature golf is $5 per game. 

Take a train ride through the park.
  • Beaver's Bend Depot located in Beaver's Bend State Park - At Beaver's Bend Depot you can ride the train as well as go on a trail ride.  The train ride departs twice per hour & takes you through the national forest on the 1/3 size replica of the C.P. Huntington S.P. train built in 1863.  The ride lasts about 20 minutes and costs $5.50 per person. The train engineer tells about the history of the park & animals that inhabit the park. The trail ride lasts about 45 minutes & costs $30 per person, no one under 3 permitted to ride.

    Forest Heritage Museum
  • Visit the Forest Heritage Museum. Admission is FREE! The Forest Heritage Museum features replicas of log cabins, antique forestry equipment, wood art, & 14 dioramas painted by Harry Rossoll that depict life in the forest from pre-historic to modern times using voice recordings to tell the story of each diorama. Don't miss the courtyard that features replicas of log cabins that can be explored. Out front of the museum you will find the Peter Toth Totem Pole. It is one in series of Trail of Tears sculptures by Hungarian artist Peter Wolf Toth, who created at least one unique totem pole in all 50 states to celebrate and commemorate the Indian heritage of each region.The museum is definitely worth your time to visit.  It is located in Beaver's Bend State Park.
  • Explore the beautiful scenic drive that winds through both state parks. We found a beautiful place to stop where the lake was on both sides of the road with a sandy beach at Hochatown State Park. Our family had a blast exploring the sandy beach on each side of the road.  
Scenic drive 259a

Sandy beach at Hochatown State Park near tent campsites.
Further down from this beautiful spot you will find the marina. You will be amazed at the houseboats docked on this pristine lake.  Park your car & go onto the pier open to the public to get a better view. Over in Beaver's Bend State Park stop at the beautiful dam overlook. Explore all of the roads & see what beauty you can find around the next corner.  Remember to use lower gear when you are headed down some of the steep roads to save your car breaks. 

    Lakeview Lodge Trail
  • Over 12 miles of hiking trails ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. The trails are well marked making for an enjoyable hike. We spent the majority of our weekend getaway hiking the many trails. Because we visited in early March the trees had not yet blossomed providing for excellent views. One of the trails we hiked each night of our stay was on a nighttime hike on the Lakeview Lodge Trail.  My son was in search of the illusive Bigfoot. We bundled up in our jackets, took our flashlights, & set out on the inside loop of the trail. While we did not find Bigfoot we did hear some strange sounds that made for an exciting evening hike! The first day of our weekend getaway we hiked the Forest Heritage Trail to Beaver Creek Trail, up to Lookout Mountain Trail & back to the Forest Heritage museum. It was a beautiful early spring afternoon.  The trail was somewhat crowded on the Forest Heritage Trail due to the stream that runs parallel to the trail. The Forest Heritage Trail is an easy trail with little change in elevation. However, the further we journeyed from the stream, the fewer people we saw.  We opted to continue on & not circle back around on the Forest Heritage Trail.  In doing this we did not see another person for the next hour and a half as we hiked up Lookout Mountain.  This trail does have an elevation gain that some would find too difficult. I would highly recommend using walking sticks or hiking poles for this hike. Day 2 of our weekend getaway we got up early and headed out on the Lakeview Lodge Trail loop 3 that is a 4 mile loop.  Make sure if you choose this trail you go in a clockwise direction so that you have the best views of the lake & are able to find the trail markings. It was a peaceful hike through the towering pines with spectacular views of the lake at the end of the trail.  The Lakeview Lodge trails are good for either hiking or mountain biking. 
Where should I stay?

Our Choice - Lakeview Lodge: 

Top: Front of Lakeview Lodge
Bottom: Back of Lakeview Lodge facing lake.
We stayed at the Lakeview Lodge which is part of the State of Oklahoma park system & is located on Broken Bow Lake in Hochatown State Park. We stayed in room 252 which is a double queen room on the third floor with a private balcony that overlooked the lake. Every room at Lakeview Lodge has a private balcony overlooking the lake so you will not be disappointed in any view. Do not be surprised to see deer grazing on the lawn from your balcony, making your stay all the more peaceful. The accommodations are affordable at $89-$129 per night. 
Lakeview Lodge Playground

Each room has a microwave & dorm sized refrigerator. The Lakeview Lodge is not the nicest hotel or lodge but the location & view make up for the lack of amenities.  There is no WiFi in your lodge room & the TV in our room only worked for some channels. The microwave in our room did not work causing us to heat our food up in the Lodge great room. The walls & floors are very thin so I would recommend getting a room on the top floor. The beds were comfortable. The cleanliness of the room was adequate. However, the State of Oklahoma desperately needs to purchase new towels.  The washcloths were terrible & had stains from years of use. Eww.. Each morning breakfast is provided with typical continental breakfast fare. Examples of breakfast items provided include microwaveable oatmeal, microwaveable sausage biscuits, ham & cheese croissants, a variety of cereals, packaged muffins & cinnamon rolls, bananas, oranges, & apples, yogurt, coffee, milk, & juices. The breakfast is nice to help you get your day started in the state park without having to go into town. The Lakeview Lodge was a good lodging choice for us as we did not need the space of a cabin & we would visit again. However, if you want to rent a cabin there are many cabin choices within the state park as well in the surrounding areas. If you enjoy camping then make sure and check out the fabulous campsites available within the state park. 

Other Lodging Options:

  • Cabins - 
    Cabin at Beaver's Bend State Park
    • Within the state park you have 47 cabin choices from which to choose - some of which are pet friendly for a small fee.  The cabins are located on & near Mountain Fork River in Beaver's Bend State Park. The cost for cabins that sleep up to 6 people range from $85-$200 per night. If you want a cabin with a river view you need to book early as those cabins tend to book fast.  To check availability of a cabin visit the State of Oklahoma's reservation website or call Beaver's Bend State Park at 580-494-6300.
    • Cabins near the state parks.  There are many cabin rental options other than within the state park.  You can rent tiny cabins that sleep 2 up to cabins that sleep far more. A good place to start looking for a cabin would be VRBO.
  • Campsites -  There are 393 campsites & 50 tent sites at Beaver's Bend & Hochatown State Parks. RV sites offer water & electricity & some include sewage. Dump stations are available.  RV sites range from $20-$25 per night. You can check availability by sending an email to , calling 580-494-6300, or by visiting the reservation website. Tent sites are $12 per night & are available on a first come first serve basis. For the budget conscious family tent camping is a good option. However, I would visit Beaver's Bend during early spring & or late fall for the best tent camping weather. 
    Campsite on the river Beaver's Bend State Park
Where is a good place to eat?
Steak dinner prepared on our portable gas grill.

Our visit to Beavers Bend/Hochatown State Park was limited to 2 days.  The first day we decided we would take our portable gas grill ($30 at Amazon) & travel size propane bottles to cook our dinner. The Lakeview Lodge has 5-10 picnic tables near the Lodge so we picked the one with our favorite view of the lake & grilled some steak we had iced down & brought with us. To compliment the steak I heated a bowl of baked beans in the Lodge great room's microwave & we grilled some veggies.  A final addition was a salad that was nothing more than the salad in a bag you can get at your local grocery store. We had a meal that was wonderful for pennies on the dollar compared to eating a steak dinner in town. I highly recommend getting the portable gas grill so you can easily prepare quality meals with little fuss at a budget price. 

Psychedelic Supremo pizza from Grateful Head Pizza
The second night of our stay we decided pizza sounded good.  We drove the less than 5 minute drive from the Lodge to Grateful Head Pizza & Tap Room in Hochatown. We ordered the Psychedelic Supremo for take out. After a short wait our pizza was delivered.  We took it back to our favorite table at the Lodge & enjoyed the leftover bagged salad along with one of the best pizzas we have ever eaten. We were tired & did not feel like eating at the restaurant but if you want an evening out with the family Grateful Head has a great outdoor seating area that features live bands & places for the kids to play. Make sure you eat at Grateful Head Pizza when you visit Beaver's Bend State Park. 

And so we had a great weekend getaway...
Sunrise view from our balcony in room 252.

Beaver's Bend & Hochatown State Park were great for disconnecting from technology & the stresses of everyday life for quality family time. If you would like to enjoy the nature that God created, book your next family getaway to Beavers Bend & Hochatown State Park.

Visit our video link at the top of the page to see footage from our trips.

May God bless you on all your adventures!

Tranquil Tejas...Mission Tejas State Park

Our family has a tradition that on January 1st we hike at a state park as a way of bringing in the new year. In 2015 Texas state parks began their "First Day Hikes" program as a means of encouraging people to start the new year off right. (Maybe they heard about our family tradition & thought it was a good idea...) State parks around the state of Texas have ranger led hikes as well as a few state parks offer canoeing or fun runs. This year we spent January 1st at Mission Tejas State Park with Ranger Josh on a 1 mile ranger led hike. 

Where is Mission Tejas State Park?
Mission Tejas State Park is located at 120 State Park Road 44 Grapeland, Texas 75844. Mission Tejas State Park is just off State Hwy 21 (El Camino Real) 15 miles east of Grapeland,Texas in the rolling hills of East Texas. Mission Tejas State Park is in a remote area with the nearest town having a population of approximately 1,400.  You will find Mission Tejas to be a tranquil place where you can slow down and enjoy life away from cell phones & other distractions in your everyday life. 

What is Mission Tejas?
Mission Tejas State Park was created in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps to remember the first Spanish mission in Texas built in 1690, Mission San Francisco de los Tejas. A visit to the park will provide you the opportunity to to see a replica of the original mission. You can also revel at the industriousness of the Rice Family as you tour the Rice Family home that was built on the El Camino Real by hand in 1828.  After you learn the history by touring the mission & family home get out on the trail and enjoy the over 600 acres of pure East Texas beauty of Mission Tejas State Park! 

What is the cost for visiting Mission Tejas State Park?
Daily entrance fees are $2 per person for persons aged 13 and up, children 12 and under FREE! If you would like a year pass to all 90 of Texas' state parks you can purchase one from any state park for $70 per year.  This will get you and your family into any state park for 1 year for free.  The Texas Parklands Pass is also available with 50% off entry for residents age 65+, 50% off entry for permanently disabled individuals, 100% off entry for anyone born before Sep. 1, 1930,  & 100% off entry for disabled veterans.

What did the ranger led hike include?
The first day hike with Ranger Josh was fabulous!  He was very knowledgeable about the state park & the wildlife that calls it home. We met Josh at the playground at 10 AM for the 1 mile guided hike.  At first it seemed that only our family would be on the hike.  However, others began showing up on the brisk January morning & in total we had 11 people from all over Texas on our hike. We hiked the nature trail around the pond, up Cemetary Hill Trail, over to Steep Step Trail, & back around Big Pine Trail to our starting point. Ranger Josh explained different plants and animals on the trail as we hiked. The information Ranger Josh provided was informative without being advanced.  The two children (aged 8 to 12) on our hike were engaged & interested in the information presented. Questions were encouraged from all members of the group. After the hike I told my husband the things Josh pointed out to us I would never have noticed if I were hiking the trail myself. The hike was easy to moderate because you do have a steep hill to climb up & steep steps you must traverse down.  I recommend bringing a hiking stick for this hike due to the hilly terrain. 

Mission Tejas State Park has many ranger programs throughout the year. Some of the offerings include ranger led hikes, geocaching, stargazing, wildlife found in the state park, & survival skills to name a few.  To find out more about current events at Mission Tejas State Park visit their events website. 

What other activities are available at Mission Tejas State Park?
Pond with bench for enjoying the beauty of your surroundings.
In addition to ranger led programs, hiking, & touring historical homes Mission Tejas offers picnicking, geocaching, & fishing.  Picnic tables are plentiful or you can rent a covered pavilion for large parties. If you liked playing hide & seek then you will LOVE geocaching! There are 7 caches hidden throughout the park that can be found using GPS coordinates.  If you do not have GPS units, the park will rent one to you for FREE for the length of your stay. There is a small pond for fishing.  If you do not have fishing poles, Mission Tejas has 24 you can use for FREE for the length of your stay. 
View of campsites from park road.

Are there cabins or campsites at Mission Tejas State Park?
There are no cabins at Mission Tejas State park.  There are 17 campsites nestled in the beautiful trees of east Texas. Sites available range from water only for $9 per night plus daily entrance fee,  to water, electricity, & sewer for $15 per night plus daily entry fee. Remember to bring your food & drink for your stay because you are a minimum of 20 minutes from the nearest grocery or convenience store. 

After our ranger led hike we hiked more trails on our own.  Our first day of 2016 was invigorating and tranquil thanks to our time spent at Mission Tejas State Park! To find out more about Mission Tejas State Park visit their website or Facebook page.
Mission San Francisco de los Tejas est.1690.
Visit our video link at the top of the page to see footage from our trips.

May God bless you on all of your travels.

Exploring Huntsville, Texas

On a beautiful early fall weekend our family spent some quality time in Huntsville, Texas. Huntsville is located 1 hour north of Houston on Interstate 45. We were looking for a budget friendly destination that would let us experience the beautiful Texas weather we had that weekend.  We were not disappointed!

What is there to do?
    Explore all that nature has to offer.
  • Huntsville State ParkLocated in the Sam Houston National Forest, Huntsville State Park has over 2,000 acres surrounding a  beautiful lake for you to explore and enjoy. Some of the activities you can enjoy include hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, canoe & paddle boat rentals, horse back riding, camping, & picnics. You will find over 21 miles of hiking/biking trails in this state park.The day we visited the park was very busy with a mountain bike race going on & almost all of the campsites were full. We were surprised to find despite so many people were in the park the hiking trails were not crowded. We have hiked trails across the United States and found Huntsville State Park had the best marked trails.  The trails were well maintained and easily traveled. We enjoyed hiking around the beautiful lake.  We did not hike all 21 miles of trails, we focused primarily on the southern portion of the state park near the dam. During our hike we saw several bicyclists on the hiking trail. If you enjoy mountain biking, Huntsville State Park has many miles to ride. We highly recommend spending a day or weekend at Huntsville State Park.  Entrance fees for daily use are $5 for adults 13 and older and FREE admission for children under 12. Campsites: $15-$25 per night, Screened Shelters $30 per night, Shelters with Air Conditioning $60 per night, Group Pavilion Screened Shelter $50 daily. 

Pictures of Huntsville State Park:

Well marked trails..
You are surrounded by towering trees.

The horseshoe shaped lake is encircled by the state park.
Trails have many bridges to cross.
    Easy access from Interstate 45
  • Sam Houston Memorial Museum 1836 Sam Houston Ave, Huntsville, TX hours Sunday: 12:00pm - 4:30pm,  Monday: Closed, & Tuesday - Saturday: 9:00am - 4:30pm. Learn about the life of Sam Houston and how he influenced Texas' entrance into the United States. Entrance fees: Adults $5, Children Aged 6-18 $3, Seniors 65+ $4.
67 foot tall statue of Sam Houston

Where did you eat?
Huntsville has many options for restaurants from chain sit down restaurants, fast food restaurants, and locally owned restaurants. When we travel we like to eat like the locals so we chose a family owned restaurant near downtown Huntsville.  
Farmhouse Cafe located near downtown Huntsville
Farmhouse Cafe1004 14th St, Huntsville, TX. The Farmhouse Cafe is off Interstate 45 and worth the drive into the heart of Huntsville. Each day the Farmhouse Cafe offers daily specials to supplement the down home offerings on the menu. Oh & don't forget the hot and fresh one of a kind homemade cornbread that is brought to the table when you arrive.With meals priced at a reasonable average of $11, you can't go wrong if you are on a budget.  As for my family we ordered the following:

One of a kind cornbread served
with all meals.
I ordered the lunch special and was not disappointed. 
Lunch Special - Parmesan chicken with hand battered fried squash
& Italian style green beans.

Here's what my husband and son each ordered:
Fried catfish platter that served crispy filets, spicy hush
puppies, sweet & tasty coleslaw, & crisp french fries.
The desserts looked spectacular as well! (We had Blue Bell ice cream earlier in our trip so we did not try a dessert.) Do I recommend the Farmhouse Cafe:  YES! Everyone enjoyed their meals, we would definitely return next time we visit Huntsville.

Final notes about the trip:
While our trip was merely a day trip, Huntsville could easily be a great weekend getaway. Whether you are looking for a fun family camp out at the state park or you would like accommodations that include a nice comfortable bed with plenty of air conditioning, Huntsville has something for you to explore & enjoy! 

May God bless you on all of your travels!

Arkansas' Castle in the Clouds - Queen Wilhelmina State Park

View of 3 states from Queen Wilhelmina State Park
Did you know Arkansas offers many budget friendly alternatives for the vacationing family? A great choice for the family on a budget is Queen Wilhelmina State Park. At 2,681 feet, Queen Wilhelmina State Park is atop Arkansas' second highest peak. A visit to the "Castle in the Clouds" will bring you one with nature while not breaking the budget. This beautiful state park in western Arkansas offers visitors 460 acres to explore and enjoy in the Ouachita Mountains. The beauty of this park can be enjoyed any season of the year. Start your journey down the Talimena Scenic Byway at Queen Wilhelmina State Park, you will not be disappointed!

What kind of accommodations are available at Queen Wilhelmina State Park?
Queen Wilhelmina Lodge
The Queen Wilhelmina Lodge atop Rich Mountain is brand new. Two years of renovations are complete as of July 2015. This beautiful lodge has 40 completely renovated guest rooms ranging from two queens to a king suite with spa & fireplace. Rates are a reasonable $95-$165 per night. 

If you prefer to camp, Queen Wilhelmina State Park offers 41 campsites that range from tent sites to full hookup campsites. The restroom facilities are clean and newly renovated. The views from the campsite are amazing. Rates range from $12-$25 per night. Discounts are available for those who are over 62 and for U.S. citizens who have written proof of being 100% disabled. 

Skyline Cafe Mena, Arkansas
Where can I eat at Queen Wilhelmina State Park?
In the lodge you will find a restaurant that serves southern cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you do not want to eat every meal at the restaurant at the lodge, you can drive 12 miles to the town of Mena, Arkansas. Mena offers a variety of restaurants from top rated Skyline Cafe that serves breakfast and lunch with rollerskating waitresses to fast food restaurants like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, & Subway. 

What is there to do at Queen Wilhelmina State Park?

  • Mountain Glory Station is a miniature train located at the park entrance.  Mountain Glory trains take you around the park.  It is opened Memorial Day - Labor Day Tuesday-Sunday and closed on Monday. 
  • Hiking. Queen Wilhelmina State Park offers hiking options ranging from easy to strenuous. Part of the 225 mile Ouachita Trail runs through the park. 
  • Interpretive programs led by park rangers will provide learning opportunities about the history and native species of the area.  Interpretive programs are free.
  • Relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. 
  • Go for a scenic drive. The Talimena National Scenic Byway is not to be missed. It is a 54 mile scenic drive between Mena, Arkansas & just north of Talihina, Oklahoma. You will find several scenic overlooks & historic sites along your journey. Don't forget to charge your camera before you leave! 
Talimena National Scenic Byway