Mount Magazine isn’t just a state park, and it’s not just the highest point in Arkansas, it’s also a resort. The only place you really need to stop in the entire park is at the Lodge at Mount Magazine.
Even if you’re not spending the night (rates are steep, around $200/night during the summer), you’ll still find the park’s best view…
… by walking through the lodge’s lobby, and out onto the back porch. The lodge overlooks Petit Jean Valley and Blue Mountain Lake.
The main park road splits off from Route 309, then loops around Signal Hill — the official highest point in Arkanas. There’s another loop road…
… that splits off from the main loop. Cameron Bluff Overlook Drive provides several turnouts, where you can check out the hazy view to the north.
Of course, you’d be crazy to visit the state’s highest mountain, without actually hiking all the way up Signal Hill to the actual high point. There are three trails that take you there: the shortest one is 4/10 of a mile long, and begins across the street from the Cameron Bluff Campground.
I should warn you, though, the high point isn’t quite as exciting as you might hope. If you’re expecting a view, prepare to be disappointed. The entire high point is surrounded by trees. An observation tower would be a nice touch, but instead, all that’s here is a sign, and a stone slab that forms the shape of the state.
Another family had just arrived at the top of the hill before me. They were excited about crowding around…
… the USGS marker that officially designates the high point (at 2,753 feet above sea level). I was tempted to point out to them that I was standing on a rock, about 10 feet away, that was clearly higher than the marker. But why ruin their fun?
With the day quickly ending, and the lodge prices too expensive, I drove out of the park, heading south on Route 309. I was hoping to get as far as possible towards Little Rock before stopping for the night. I ended up taking Route 10 to Route 7, to Russellville.
For the second time in two days, I was driving north on Arkansas Route 7 into the towns of Dardanelle and Russellville. It was also the second time that this field caught my eye. The rows of produce led my eye directly towards Mount Nebo in the distance — the home of Mount Nebo State Park.
Route 7 turns to the left, passing through Dardanelle, then crossing the Arkansas River. Before the river, if you turn right on Front Street, you’ll find Dardanelle’s business district. Instead, I turned left…
… to check out the Dardanelle Dam.
Below the Dardanelle Dam, Winthrop Rockefeller Lake begins. There are some picnic and recreation spots along the shoreline, but nothing I needed after a long day of driving around northern Arkansas. So, I didn’t spend much time here. I drove to the north side of Russellville, where several motels are lined up along Interstate 40.
Here’s a time-lapse dash-cam video of my drive from Mt. Magazine State Park to my motel in Russellville…
… and the drive the next morning from Russellville to Little Rock: