Queen Wilhelmina State Park sits atop Rich Mountain at 2,681 feet making this the second highest point in Arkansas after Mount Magazine.
The views from the mountain are simply breathtaking. Many people say that they are reminiscent of Great Smoky Mountain views. This is due to the hills unfolding into the distance and the fog that often settles in the valleys in the mornings.
The park is also the terminus of the stunning Talimena Scenic Byway which is a 54 mile National Scenic Byway which runs through the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The 225-mile Ouachita National Recreation Hiking Trail also runs through the park.
All About Beautiful Queen Wilhelmina State Park
This amazing Arkansas State Park is a great place to relax and enjoy the mountaintop breezes all while basking in the gorgeous scenery. You can pass through and enjoy this state park for the day or stay at the lodge or one of the campsites.
Location of Queen Wilhelmina State Park
The park is located on Highway 88 about 13 miles northwest of the town of Mena. It is considered to be the end of the Talimena Scenic Drive.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park
3877 Highway 88 West
Mena, AR 71053
You will want to contact the Queen Wilhelmina State Park to make reservations for the lodge or for camping.
Phone: (479) 394-2863 or -2864
Fax: (479) 394-0061
The Lodge and gift shop are open daily, year round, 24 hours a day.
The restaurant is also open daily year round but the hours are subject to change during the off season.
Be sure to always check the schedule for the campsites as they do close the bathhouse and turn off the water during the winter months.
The train and mini golf are open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Check the park’s website for opening hours and further information.
History of Queen Wilhelmina State Park
One of the most interesting things about this lovely Arkansas state park is its history.
Queen Wilhelmina was the queen of Holland so why would a park in Arkansas be named after her?
Here’s the story:
The first lodge on the mountain was built in 1898 by the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad. The company was hoping to attract more passenger traffic on its rail lines that ran through the Ouachita Mountains.
Most of the investors of the railroad were Dutch so they named the lodge the Wilhelmina Inn after their young queen. They even designed a royal suite in hopes that she would pay a visit to the hotel. The Inn became known as “The Castle in the Sky.”
Unfortunately, not only did the queen never visit, but within three years the Wilhelmina Inn had failed.
Over the next years the Inn fell into complete disrepair until it was purchased in 1950 by a group from the nearby town of Mena. In 1957 the Arkansas State Senate designated the area to be the Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
A second lodge was built and subsequently destroyed by fire. In the 1970’s the current modern lodge was constructed.
Staying at the Lodge
I have to be honest, the architecture and appearance of the lodge is a bit underwhelming, perhaps even a bit…dull. However, we stayed here and found the rooms to be spacious, comfortable, and quiet.
There are 40 guest rooms in the lodge. Some (including the one we stayed in) even have gas fireplaces and spa tubs.
TIP: Be sure and ask for a room with a view as that makes all the difference!
The lodge also has a gift shop, a large hearth room with huge picture windows, a restaurant, and spaces for meetings and conferences.
The clientele tends to skew older, retirement age, but there were some young families and a few bikers staying here as well.
Things to do at Queen Wilhelmina State Park
The lodge and the views are the main draw at this state park. However, there is also camping as well as some short hikes and other activities on the mountain and in the area.
Camping at Queen Wilhelmina State Park
The park has Class A and B sites with both water and electricity as well as some Class C sites with water and some walk in tent sites.
We didn’t camp while we were here but I did take a walk through the camping area so that I could report back to you!
The RV campsites were flat and paved and many had some shade. Only a few of the sites have a complete view in the summer as the foliage tends to block some of the view. This will obviously be a different story if you are camping in the winter.
Of course you can always make the short walk up to the lodge any time of year to enjoy the full view experience.
The one drawback that we could see was that the sites were quite close together.
The bathhouse was clean and large and modern. It was actually pretty nice. I did notice that many of the campground reviews say that the water in the bathhouse isn’t hot enough. However, I can’t speak to that myself!
Although there are no sewer hookups there is a dump station at the entrance to the campground.
Reservations can be made for the campsites.
The Queen’s Restaurant
The Queen’s Restaurant located in the lodge is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a large, plain space with big windows. The service was excellent, very friendly and very prompt.
The cuisine is described as southern. I would say it is more your average American fare. However, it is very nice to not have to drive anywhere to get something to eat if you are staying in the lodge.
- Ouachita National Hiking Trail: This is a 225 mile trail that traverses through the Ouachita Nation Forest with one end at Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock and the other near Talihina, Oklahoma. Some through hikers stay in the State Park. You can walk the trail about 1 1/4 miles from the lodge to the Rich Mountain Pioneer Cemetery which is an interesting historic spot.
- Lovers Leap Trail: This is a 1.1 mile loop that starts just north of the lodge. Part of this trail will overlap with the Ouachita Trail. The highlight of the trail is a beautiful overlook. This is considered a moderate trail due to some rocky areas and elevation change.
- Reservoir Trail: This is a short 2/3 mile round trip trail that begins just south of the lodge and leads to an old stone reservoir which was once part of the original lodge.
- Spring Trail: This is a 1/2 mile trail one way that starts behind and to the right of the amphitheater. It leads to a spring that is said to have once been a favorite gathering place for the settlers on this mountain.
Talimena Scenic Byway
The Talimena Scenic Byway is a 54 mile national byway which has one end in the town of Mena and passes through the Queen Wilhelmina State Park on its way to Talihina, Oklahoma.
Even if you only drive the stretch of the byway from the state park to the town of Mena you will be amazed at the number of gorgeous overlooks along the byway.
Every time of year is gorgeous on the Talimena Scenic Byway, but we particularly love it in the fall. In fact, this drive is on our list of the best places to see fall color in Arkansas.
Rich Mountain Train and Mini-Golf
A short walk from the lodge is the Rich Mountain Train and Mini-Golf. This is a miniature, vintage train that has been operating for over 60 years.
The ride takes you on a two mile loop past the lodge, along beautiful mountain vistas, and through the woods. Children would especially enjoy the train ride but we liked it too!
In addition to the train ride you can play mini-golf here and get some ice cream.
Playground and Day Use Areas
Queen Wilhelmina State Park has a very nice playground as well as picnic tables for day use. There is even a volleyball court that would be fun for a group to use.
The Wonder House
The Wonder House is located just a short distance from the lodge beside the amphitheater and the trail head to the spring. It looks like something out of a fairy tale. It’s a rambling stone cottage built on several levels.
It was constructed by Carlos Hill, who was an amateur builder with an interest in creating houses out of native materials. He built 5 of these structures on Rich Mountain but only this one remains.
Other Nearby Activities
- The park is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest which means that there are plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, biking, canoeing, biking, and swimming.
- Enjoy the artsy town of Mena which is only about 13 miles away
- Cossatot River State Park Natural Area
- Visit the Little Missouri Falls
- Drive the Talimena Scenic Byway
Queen Wilhelmina State Park is a unique Arkansas State Park. It is a perfect base for exploring the nearby town of Mena and the Ouachita Mountains and is also a perfect place to stay if you are interested in driving the Talimena Scenic Byway or hiking the Ouachita National Trail.
Or you can just take it easy, relaxing in nature and soaking up the scenery.
Enjoy your visit to Queen Wilhelmina State Park!
Here are some more Arkansas State Parks that you might enjoy!
- Pinnacle Mountain State Park
- Mount Magazine State Park
- Petit Jean State Park
- Mount Nebo State Park
- Cane Creek State Park
- Lake Catherine State Park
Thanks for stopping by!