The peak of Mount Magazine sits at 2,753 feet making this the highest point in Arkansas. Mount Magazine State Park joins Petit Jean State Park and Mount Nebo State Park as one of the three mountains in the Arkansas River Valley known as the Tri-Peaks.
Mount Magazine State Park
Of course you come to Mount Magazine for the views but there is much more to do including technical rock climbing, hang gliding, nature watching, and hiking.
You will also find a lodge, cabins, camping, and a restaurant.
Read on to learn about all the great amenities and activities at Mount Magazine State Park.
General Questions You Might Have About Mount Magazine State Park
What is Mount Magazine State Park Most Known For?
It is known for being the highest point in the state of Arkansas!
Also for its diversity of nature, its hang gliding, and its rock climbing, and for having one of the most beautiful state park lodges.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit?
It is free!
Of course you will have to pay to stay in the lodge, the cabins, or to camp, but if you just want to come to enjoy the views or to hike – there is no cost.
Is It Pet Friendly?
Pets need to be leashed but they are allowed on the trails and in the campground. Some of the lodge rooms and cabins allow pets as well.
Is There Cell Phone Reception?
You will have reception most of the time but I have noticed that it gets low on some of the hikes.
When is Mount Magazine State Park Open?
Of course you will want to check opening hours for the visitor center and the restaurant and those amenities may be closed on major holidays.
Where is Mount Magazine State Park Located
The State Park is situated south of Interstate 40 and is about 2 hours from the capital city of Little Rock as well as 2 hours from the college town of Fayetteville.
Arkansas State Highway 309 which is one of the designated scenic byways in Arkansas crosses Mount Magazine. It is aptly named the “Mount Magazine Scenic Byway.”
This is a 45 mile stretch of highway which runs between the towns of Paris, Arkansas and Havana, Arkansas and over the mountain.
And…by the way…neither of these small towns are anything like their original namesakes. Although the town of Paris does have a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower.
What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Mount Magazine State Park
Honestly, this is a great year round park.
These pictures in this post are from my most recent visit which was a sunny day in January. As you can see it was a gorgeous day.
Winters are typically mild in Arkansas although I would recommend that you check for any possibility of inclement weather before you go as you wouldn’t want to risk being on the mountain during any type of icy precipitation.
Spring and fall are beautiful throughout the state of Arkansas and the fall colors on Mount Magazine are some of the best.
Of course summers in Arkansas tend to be hot, but the good news is that Mount Magazine tends to be cooler than the valley below so it is a good place to get a respite from the worst of the heat!
How did Mount Magazine Get its Name?
All of the mountains in this region were once called Magazines.
Apparently, the steep sided, flat-topped shape of these mountains reminded the early French explorers of storehouses that they called “magasins.”
Are There Bears on Mount Magazine?
There are black bears on Mount Magazine. In fact, the black bear population is increasing in the state of Arkansas.
As you drive through the park you will see “Bear Crossing” signs. There is no guarantee that you will see a bear on the mountain but it is good to be aware that they are there.
History of Mount Magazine State Park
There is little archeological evidence to indicate that native Americans ever lived permanently on Mount Magazine although it seems that they did hunt on the mountain. It is thought that they lived there seasonally.
Settlers began coming to the mountain after the Civil War. None of their homes are still standing today but we do know that almost every flat area was farmed. Old wagon roads and stone fences can still be found in many areas.
At the turn of the century the area became a resort. People began coming for the views and for the cooler air. There were streets, parks, a post office, a hotel, and even a dance pavilion.
The entire area went bust during the depression. Even the farms were worn out and people began leaving the mountain. Most of the land was turned over to the government during this time because of unpaid taxes.
The Mountain was taken over by the Federal Government in 1934 and turned over to the US Forest Service. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) began improving the mountain in the late 1938 to 1941.
The WPA built the road from Paris to Havana which is now the Mount Magazine Scenic Byway and the CCC built a lodge, cabins, and picnic areas.
The most remembered structure of the period was the Mount Magazine Lodge. This was a gorgeous old building with guest rooms, a dining room, and an amazing stone patio. 18 cabins were also built during this time.
This Mount Magazine Lodge burned in 1971 and was a complete loss.
Creation of Mount Magazine State Park
With the fall of the lodge visitation dropped on the mountain.
In 1983 it was decided that a new state park would be created on Mount Magazine. A partnership with the USDA Forest Service allowed the park to open in 1998 as Mount Magazine State Park.
Where to Stay on the Mountain
The Lodge at Mount Magazine
In 2006, the multimillion-dollar Lodge at Mount Magazine and 13 cliffside cabins were opened. The lodge has a grand lobby, 60 rooms, the Skycrest restaurant, an indoor pool and much more.
The rooms have spectacular views. Some have balconies with views of the valley below while others have picture windows. There are also rooms with jacuzzi tubs.
The lobby has a grand fireplace and a cozy sitting area with large windows and spectacular views.
Best of all is the expansive back “patio” of the lodge. You can sit in a rocking chair and enjoy the view while the birds swoop and glide in front of you.
Cabins on Mount Magazine
The Mount Magazine State Park cabins are spread far apart for privacy and all have wonderful views of the valley below.
Each one has a porch with a hot tub. There is also a fireplace which is wonderful if you visit when the weather is cooler.
There is a paved walking path that runs in front of the cabins which is very nice.
Camping At Mount Magazine State Park
The park campground features 18 campsites with water, electric, and sewer hookups. There is also an RV dump station which makes it nice to not have to leave the mountain for this.
There is also a barrier-free bathhouse with hot showers and flush toilets.
There are 2 class AAA sites and 16 class AA with tent only options.
Reservations are required for camping.
Things to do at Mount Magazine State Park
There are so many great things to do on the mountain! Here are some of our favorites!
Stop By the Visitor Center
The 8,000 square foot visitor center is a great place to begin your adventures on the mountain.
This is where you can stop to get a brochure with a list of all of the hikes on the mountain, learn about any special workshops or programs that might be happening, and see some interesting exhibits.
The exhibits all about Mount Magazine; the history, the plants and animals, and the geology.
They also have nice bathroom facilities if you aren’t staying on the mountain and need a place for a pitstop.
Get a Bite to Eat at The Skycrest Restaurant
The restaurant is located on a lower level of the lodge. It is a large space with soaring timbered ceilings, a huge stone fireplace and tall picture windows. Of course, like the rest of the lodge, the view is spectacular.
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is southern style food mostly served on a buffet although there is also a limited menu.
There is a small bar just before you enter the restaurant with televisions and tables. This could be a good place to relax if you are staying at the lodge.
Enjoy Sunset at Cameron Bluff Overlook
Cameron Bluff Overlook is a perfect place on the mountain to take in the sunset. There is a nice parking area here so no hiking is required to experience one of the most beautiful overlooks in the park.
You can see the towering layers of rock on the neighboring cliff which rises from the valley, the mountains below roll out into the clouds as the setting sun changes the light minute by minute.
You will be standing on beautiful native stone with wooden fencing and rock pillars. This is a gorgeous place to capture some photos and an even better place to make memories.
Take a Hike
There are 14 miles of hiking trails on Mount Magazine. I am going to list them all but I do want to tell you some of my favorites. Be sure and pick up a hiking brochure at the Visitor’s Center.
Mount Magazine Signal Hill Trail
The Signal Hill Trail is a 1.4 mile hike that takes you to the actual spot of the highest point in Arkansas. The trail head is just across from the park’s campground.
There is less than 200 feet elevation to the peak. At the top you will find Highpoint Monument. This is a 400 foot rock display in the shape of Arkansas.
You might be surprised to learn that there are no views or vistas from this trail but it is still a fun hike that is worth taking.
The Benefield trail starts at the Benefield picnic area and is actually 2 loops.
The 1.1 mile east loop is one of my favorites! There are several panoramic vistas along this short trail. Some of it follows a bluff line with wonderful views of the river valley below. There are also some nice views of Bear Hollow.
The west loop is an easy .9 mile walk through the woods with a pond on the west end of the loop.
North Rim Trail
Bear Hollow Trail is an 5 mile out and back trail, 2.5 miles each way. The trail starts on the west side of the Mount Magazine State Park Visitor’s Center.
If you hike when there has been rain you will find some wet weather creeks that are very scenic. There are some overlooks that are accessed by little spur trails that are definitely worth taking.
Dill point is probably the highlight of the hike and on a clear day you can see the Ozark Mountains from this overlook.
Bear Hollow Trail
In my opinion some of the best scenery in the park is found along Bear Hollow Trail. If you are up for a longer hike then this is the one to take. It is an out and back trail that is approximately 5 miles total.
Bear Hollow Trail begins at Benefield picnic area and ends at highway 309 just south of the horse camp. (or vice-versa!) Be sure and look for Sunrise Rock, Inspiration Point and Shoal Creek.
The upper part of this hollow has never been logged and is some of the last remaining virgin hardwood forest in Arkansas
Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail
This is the only multi-use trail in the park. Horses and motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on any of the other trails but they are both allowed here. The trail is 34 miles, but only .6 mile is within the state park boundaries.
For more details you will want to pick up a Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail brochure at the Visitor Center.
Mountain Biking and Road Biking
Mountain Biking is allowed on the Huckleberry Mountain Horse Trail and it is said to be one of the more challenging Arkansas mountain bike trails.
If you want something a bit less strenuous Mount Magazine State Park has several miles of bike lanes around the top of the mountain. Bikes are available to rent at the lodge.
This is a flat topped steep sided mountain making it perfect for rock climbing.
Traditional Arkansas bouldering and sport climbing as well as rappelling is allowed in a designated area on the mountain’s south bluff overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley.
Register at the visitor center before climbing.
There are only two state parks in Arkansas that allow Hang Gliding.
Mount Magazine State Park is one and Mount Nebo State Park is the other. It is claimed that Mount Magazine often has near perfect conditions for flight depending on the weather of course!
I personally am too much of a scaredy cat to ever hang glide, but I have been able to watch those braver souls than me jump off the mountain and it is amazing to watch.
Besides the Bears…Other Wildlife at Mount Magazine State Park
This is the perfect state park for wildlife lovers.
As part of the partnership and agreement with the USDA Forest Service less than one percent of the summit plateau was developed. This is an area that is allowed to be wild and natural.
There are gorgeous wildflowers along the trails in the old openings that used to be farm fields. Raptors glide through the air high above the valleys below. Does and fawns nibble grass placidly by the sides of the road.
This is a wonderful place to lower your heart rate and enjoy scenery and the wilderness.
You can join a park interpreter to learn more about the wildlife on the mountain or simply walk quietly through the woods and enjoy it on your own.
I hope that you enjoy your visit to Mount Magazine State Park!
Thanks for stopping by!