Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cedar Falls at Petit Jean State Park - Magnificent Arkansas Waterfall

Cedar Falls at Petit Jean Mountain
One of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Natural State, Cedar Falls plunges 90 feet into Cedar Creek Canyon at Petit Jean State Park near Morrilton, Arkansas.

Fed by Cedar Creek, which flows from the top of Petit Jean Mountain and over the waterfall into a beautiful canyon surrounded by towering pluffs and natural rock palisades, Cedar Falls is perhaps the best known waterfall in Arkansas. A centerpiece of the state's oldest state parks, the falls have been photographed by untold thousands of visitors over the decades since Petit Jean State Park was created.

The area around the waterfall is unique because the impetus to preserve it came not from the state or federal government, but from a group of logging company executives who met there in 1907 to inspect the area's timber potential. After spending a weekend exploring the area and marveling at its stunning beauty, they unanimously agreed that its trees should be allowed to continue their natural growth and that the remarkable setting should be preserved for future generations.

View from Petit Jean Mountain
It would take many years for this dream to be realized. The U.S. Government turned down the land as a national park because the tract was not then considered large enough for park purposes. The effort to donate the land for public use then turned to the Arkansas State Legislature. After negotiating some red tape, the state acquisition of its first state park lands took place in 1921.

The development of Petit Jean State Park, particularly the area around Cedar Falls, was carried out largely by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Company 1781 was assigned to the park and spent the years from 1933 to 1938 building trails, roads, bridges, pavilions, cabins and the beautiful stone Mather Lodge (currently closed for renovation).

Ancient Indian Art
The park today preserves 2,568 acres of stunning mountain scenery. In addition to Cedar Falls and the spectacular canyon, there is a mountain top scenic drive, stunning overlooks, fishing lake, picnic area, miles of hiking trails and the fascinating Rock House Cave, where prehistoric art left by ancient Native Americans can still be seen.

The park is also famed for its legend of Petit Jean, which tells the story of a young French girl who followed her lover to the new world and died at the foot of the mountain. You can learn about the story of Petit Jean's ghost and more about the park and its attractions by visiting

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