Last month I took the family on a road trip up to Northwest Arkansas where we rented a cabin in the Boston Mountains at Devil’s Den State Park. The impetus for the trip was LSU’s road game in Fayetteville – I’ve always enjoyed travelling to see the Tigers play and have typically made it to one road game a year. Amanda and I had never been to that part of Arkansas and a trip to see some Fall color wasn’t a bad idea so we decided to make a trip of it.
The drive was about 10 hours, most of it coming on the highway rather than the interstate. The drive from Little Rock toward Fort Smith on I-40 in the Arkansas River valley is quite pleasant. When you’re from Louisiana just seeing elevation change is nice.
Any road trip with a 1 year old is always longer than it should be, but for the most part she handled it like a champ. After breakfast in Natchez we had to stop and play at a park in Monticello. We then managed to make it all the way to Alma before Olivia had really had enough of the car.
My first impression of the park was of admiration for the old CCC architecture. There were rustic old stone and log cabin buildings spread in the woods among Lee Creek Valley, they actually fit in well with the scenery. We were lucky enough to catch the tail end of Fall up there, with lots of orange, yellows, and reds throughout. The temperature change from Baton Rouge to NW Arkansas was pretty sharp, it was bitterly cold through our entire stay up there. We were determined to not let it be a deterrent to our enjoyment in the woods and we enjoyed a few different hikes around the park.
The Devil’s Den trail is a 1.3 mile loop that really showcased the sandstone caves, crevices, and bluffs that the area is known for.
One of the more interesting parts of the trail was along Lee Creek where people, over time, had constructed a seemingly endless amount of rock cairns. Olivia did her best to play Godzilla and knock a few down, I’m sure eventually a flood will take out the rest.
Lee Creek, which was shallow and clear, had me longing for warmer temps so I could try my luck for some Ozark smallmouth. The forecast had been so cold though that I didn’t even pack a rod.
In a bid to see more Fall color in the area we made the drive one day over to Natural Dam, a natural rock dam spanning 200 feet along Mountain Fork Creek. The kids loved playing with the rocks on the cobble beach just below the dam.
We did make our way into Fayetteville on Saturday for the game where we went to the Farmers Market in Downtown Square then spent the rest of the day tailgating until game time. The Razorbacks had not done much this season to capture the attention of local fans so we basically had the campus to ourselves. There really wasn’t even a strong LSU contingent there. My parents also made the trip to Devil’s Den and were nice enough to keep the kids while Amanda and I went to the game. We were treated to some complimentary tickets not long before game time by a nice Arkansas fan, I can’t thank that woman enough, they were great seats too! The game wasn’t a thriller by any stretch of the imagination, but the stadium was nice, they had hot chocolate delivery, the fans were pleasant, and the Tigers got the W so it was a good experience all around.
It was really nice to spend quality time with the family where cell service was shoddy at best. I think the kids really enjoyed being somewhere new and spending as much time outside as we did. After this trip and spending the night in a tent at Audubon Zoo with Marin back in October I’m hoping we will make more of an effort to go camping next year.