MORRILTON, Ark. – To celebrate their Centennial, Arkansas State Parks is hosting a series of special events to get Arkansans outdoors, including the Club 52 Passport Program.
The goal is for visitors to pick up a State Park passport at any visitor’s center, then collect all 52 stamps at the various state parks to win exclusive merch and prizes.
Non-native Arkansan and KARK 4 anchor Caitrin Assaf decided to start a passport of her own, with the goal of visiting all 52 state parks within the year of the Centennial. Her first stop was the oldest state park, created in 1923: Petit Jean.
For those looking to visit, the Petit Jean State Park visitors center located just outside Morrilton is a great place to start. Complete with kid-friendly exhibits, all the gear needed for your adventure, and a collection of passports and stamps for those looking to start their journey, it shouldn’t be missed.
From there, there are dozens of options; from a day on the lake or swimming in the community pool to any number of hikes and trails that visitors can explore, from the strenuous to the easy.
Caitrin decided to keep it simple, exploring the Rock House Cave Trail.
This .25-mile trail is very family-friendly, with the main attraction just a few steps away from the parking lot. The Rock Cave House is a shelter believed to be over 500 years old, complete with Native American rock art on the walls that can still be seen today.
On the way down, visitors will walk over “turtle rocks” that look like turtle shells. These large areas are fun to explore but can be full of nooks and crannies, so make sure little ones are supervised and you’re wearing the right shoes.
Other features of the park include overlooks that can be driven up to or those that are complete with boardwalks and very few steps for those not able to hike. But for the more adventurous, longer and more difficult hikes are available, and some even feature guided hikes depending on the day and time.
And for those looking to stay, the popular Mather Lodge features lodging, a restaurant and beautiful views everyone in the family can easily enjoy.
Arkansas State Park passports can be picked up at any state park visitor center. Just ask a park ranger where they can be found, and stamps can also be found there as well. For parks without visitors’ centers, there should be seals that can be used as a rubbing of the stamp, instead. Just bring a pencil or crayon.
For more information on Arkansas State Parks and the Club 52 Passport Program, visit ArkansasStateParks.com.