Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas: An In-Depth Family Adventure Guide

Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas: An In-Depth Family Adventure Guide

Adventurous families are always on the lookout for explosive outdoor destinations that bring a little zing to their escapades. Step right up, adventurous families, for a devilishly good time awaits you at Devil’s Den State Park!

Nestled in the heart of the Ozarks, this Arkansas gem offers more than just scenic beauty—it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and a playground for families seeking a touch of the extraordinary.

Whether you seek a rejuvenating swim or yearn for an enchanting hike, Devil’s Den State Park is the ideal weekend retreat. From camping intricacies to trail explorations, our comprehensive guide is at your service to assist in crafting your flawless family getaway.

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History of Devil’s Den State Park

Nestled within the picturesque Lee Creek Valley in Arkansas, this distinctive locale showcases an extraordinary rock dam and an expansive 8-acre lake—perfect for fishing and whimsy pedal boating. The 2,500-acre state park caters to all adventure levels, offering an array of hiking and biking trails that wind through a captivating landscape adorned with sandstone and limestone bluffs, mysterious caves, and intriguing crevices.

A testament to its historical roots, this haven emerged in the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps developed the state park. They constructed charming pavilions, mapped extensive trail networks, and erected various recreational facilities.

In 1979, the Arkansas Archeological Survey documented 11 archaeological sites within the park. Among these, six sites revealed the presence of Native Americans dating back 8,000 years.

The upper Lee Creek Valley witnessed a steady surge in settlement during the 1840s and 1850s, with the peak of activity unfolding between 1880 and 1920. This era painted a vivid tapestry of human endeavors against the backdrop of Devil’s Den’s captivating landscape.

A distinctive facet of the park is the sandstone crevice area, a natural wonder boasting about 60 crevice caves. Among these, Devil’s Den Cave stands out, stretching an impressive 550 feet into the hillside.

Geological whispers narrate a tale of upheaval between 10,000 and 70,000 years ago when a swath of hillside, spanning around 30 acres, crumbled and cascaded into the valley. This birthed the intricate network of crevices and caves, leaving geologists awe-inspired.

The year 1982 was a pivotal moment for Devil’s Den as the Devil’s Den Crevice Cave Area earned a prestigious spot on the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s Registry of Natural Areas. This recognition is a testament to the park’s geological and archaeological significance, a nod to the intricate dance of time and nature within Devil’s Den State Park.

When to visit Devil’s Den State Park

Devil’s Den welcomes visitors throughout the year, offering a diverse range of experiences depending on the season. Spring, with its mild temperatures and thawed trails, is ideal for those looking to escape the summer crowds. From March to May, the park is adorned with blooming wildflowers, and waterfalls cascade at their fullest thanks to the melting snow.

Summer (from June to August) is the peak season, drawing the largest crowds. If you plan to secure a cabin or campground, be sure to book in advance. Also, with sweltering temperatures often recorded during this period, it’s essential to pack ample sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Fall (from September to November) brings cooler weather and a more serene atmosphere with fewer visitors. Autumn visitors are treated to a spectacular display of fall foliage, where the landscape transforms into a canvas of vibrant reds and golden yellows for about two weeks.

Winter (December to February) is the park’s least busy period, offering a respite from crowds. But be prepared for chilly temperatures, and note that trails may be covered in ice and snow. It’s a great time for those seeking a quieter experience and are equipped to handle the frigid conditions.

What to do at Devil’s Den State Park

Devil’s Den State Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers alike. If you revel in the great outdoors and seek the thrill of adventure, Devil’s Den is bound to capture your heart. However, if staying clean and playing it safe is more your style, this might not be your cup of tea.

Here’s the kicker – there are no entrance fees for Devil’s Den! That’s right, folks, it’s entirely free to enter. While there are fees for camping or renting equipment, a day trip solely for hiking and exploration won’t cost you a penny.

So, for those who want a taste of the wild without breaking the bank, Devil’s Den is the perfect escape. To ensure you make the most of your adventure, we’ve put together a curated list of things to do in Devil’s Den State Park.

1. Go biking with the kids

Nestled within Devil’s Den State Park, the Monument trail system stretches across 15 miles, offering riders eight trails to navigate through the park. This versatility allows cyclists to customize their journey according to their skill level and preferences.

At the genesis of this monumental trail system is the Fossil Flats Trail, a trail that holds a unique distinction—it was the first mountain bike trail crafted within an Arkansas State Park. This wasn’t just a trailblazing moment for biking enthusiasts; it was the genesis of the Ozark Mountain Bike Festival, the state’s pioneering mountain biking annual event celebrated every spring.

As avid cyclists explore the Monument trail system, they’ll encounter a range of well-crafted trails catering to different tastes and skill sets. The Monument trail system is made up of trails such as; Fossil Flats, All You Can Eat, Devil’s Racetrack, Gold Brick, Dollar-A-Day, We Can Take It, Sparky, and Orville.

2. Go swimming in the summer

Craving relief from the scorching heat? Take a plunge into the inviting blue-green waters of Lee Creek or Lake Devil at Devil’s Den State Park. The park also has a pool open to visitors throughout the summer.

Guests lodging in on-site cabins enjoy complimentary access to the pool, while others can gain entry for a small fee. The cost is $5.00 for individuals aged six and above and $4.00 for those aged two through five. Beat the heat and make a splash at Devil’s Den!

3. Go boating and fishing on Lake Devil

Nestled amid various camping facilities, the 8-acre Lake Devil beckons with opportunities for boating and fishing enthusiasts. Cast your line into the serene waters and discover the delights that the lake has to offer. Boating and fishing with canoes are permitted here, presenting a chance to reel in a diverse array of fish, including trout, bluegills, and crappie, among others.

Please note that fishing is limited to rod or pole use, and the use of common carp as bait is strictly prohibited, ensuring a responsible and enjoyable angling experience. Also, there is a daily limit of five catfish and trout per person.

4. Explore Devil’s Den on the back of a horse

Embark on a delightful adventure through Devil’s Den State Park on the back of a horse. The park has an extensive 20-mile network of horseback riding trails and a horse camp with over 40 site hookups. Must-try trails for horse enthusiasts include Gorley King, Old Road Trail, and Vista Point Trail. Access to the horse camp is a breeze via Highway 170.

5. Hiking

The park has an array of picturesque hiking trails that cater to hikers of all levels. From short 1/4-mile strolls to more challenging 15-mile treks, the trails feature diverse terrains. Offering some of the most breathtaking views and immersive nature encounters in Northwest Arkansas, these trails are perfect for day hikes, dog-friendly adventures, and those seeking an easy to moderately challenging experience.

1. Yellow Rock Trail

The park’s most renowned and frequented trail is the iconic Yellow Rock. Dating back to the 1930s, it is one of the first trails crafted in Devil’s Den State Park and one of the most well-maintained.

Offering a breathtaking panorama of the Lee Creek Valley, it is an ideal pathway for witnessing the dazzling spectacle of autumn foliage. The trail is quite busy on weekends resulting in limited parking at the Lee Creek Camping area. So, set out early to avoid the inconveniences.

2. Devil’s Den Trail

Renowned for its captivating natural features, this trail offers a delightful journey that’s easy to complete. Although it may be short in length, it unequivocally earns its spot as a hike not to be missed.

Meandering through the enchanting woods, alongside impressive bluffs, and passing by notable caves such as Devil’s Den Cave and Devil’s Icebox (these are closed to safeguard crucial bat habitat), this trail promises a rich tapestry of natural wonders.

While it’s a fantastic year-round destination, we recommend you visit during the spring season, when the 50-foot-high Twin Falls cascades down the hillside in a magnificent display.

3. Lee Creek Trail

Embark on the scenic Lee Creek Trail, aptly named for its meandering path alongside the picturesque Lee Creek. This trail is a true testament to the park’s natural beauty, boasting fascinating geological wonders that unveil the park’s hidden treasures—fossils embedded within limestone formations.

Ideal for summer and fall explorations, this trail offers a perfect blend of wooded serenity and creekside charm. Wander through lush woods for half the journey, then dip your toes into the refreshing creek waters for a cooling respite on those scorching summer afternoons.

Where to eat around Devil’s Den State Park

While you might expect the heart of the Ozarks to be all about breathtaking landscapes and outdoor escapades, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. Devil’s Den State Park isn’t just a haven for nature lovers; it’s also a treasure trove for foodies seeking delightful sustenance amidst the wilderness. Here are a few food spots around the park to cater to your cravings;

1. Chester Country Café

First on our culinary expedition is Chester Country Café. Located 7.5 miles from the park, this rustic gem offers a menu that caters to every palate. From hearty breakfasts fueling your day’s adventures to mouth-watering lunches and dinners that satisfy even the most voracious appetites, the café is a culinary haven that seamlessly blends with the park’s natural charm.

Chester Country Café on Google Maps:

2. Pizza Den

Tucked away in the charming town of Mountainburg (9.8 miles from Devil’s Den State Park), Pizza Den is not just a pizzeria; it’s a gastronomic delight that captures the essence of good food, warm vibes, and community spirit. As you step inside, the aroma of freshly baked crust and savory toppings fills the air, setting the stage for a dining experience that transcends the ordinary.

Pizza Den on Google Maps:

Where to stay in Devil’s Den State Park

Given the plethora of attractions at Devil’s Den State Park, families opt for extended stays to fully immerse themselves in the park’s offerings. While the park doesn’t have hotels or luxurious lodges, it does provide cozy cabins and campsites for accommodation.

1. Cabins

Within the park, you’ll find 17 cabins equipped with kitchens and an additional 6 camper cabins. All of these cabins grant complimentary access to the swimming pool and boast a prime location for easy access to the park’s trails, inviting you to explore the natural wonders around.

The full-service cabins date back to the 1930s but have been upgraded with modern amenities. Step into a world where nostalgia meets convenience, as each cabin comes complete with television, heating, air conditioning, full kitchens, and linens.

However, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the camper cabins offer a more rustic experience. While lacking a kitchen, bathroom, and television, these cabins provide a unique charm that encourages guests to bring their linens, enhancing the feeling of a home away from home.

Despite their rustic nature, the camper cabins have thoughtfully incorporated amenities to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible. Imagine enjoying the breeze on a screened porch, dining at a quaint table with chairs, or relishing a meal outdoors at a picnic table with the convenience of an outdoor grill nearby.

2. Camping

Devil’s Den State Park has a diverse range of camping options, offering more than 135 campsites to cater to various preferences. Whether you prefer the convenience of RV and camper hookups or the more adventurous hike-in experience, Devil’s Den has a spot tailored just for you.

3. Hotels near the park

If the idea of camping in a tent or staying in a cabin doesn’t appeal to you, worry not; there are numerous alternative accommodation options at your disposal.

1. Staybridge Suites Fayetteville

Discover the modern allure of Staybridge Suites Fayetteville, an exceptional hotel that offers complimentary breakfast and parking. Ideal for weekend getaways, this destination caters to travelers seeking a break from the ordinary.

Unwind in style with amenities such as an indoor pool, fitness center, and a 24-hour market. Guests can expect a relaxing retreat where they can kick off their hiking shoes after a day brimming with exciting activities.

Staybridge Suites Fayetteville on Google Maps:

2. Hampton Inn Van Buren

Nestled next to Lake Louemma Park, this hotel offers both convenience and captivating Victorian architecture. Unwind by the lobby’s fireplace after exploring the scenic trails of Devil’s Den State Park. Embracing a pet-friendly policy, the Inn is conveniently situated near several family-friendly restaurants, making it an ideal choice for those traveling with children.

Hampton Inn Van Buren on Google Maps:

3. Graduate Fayetteville

Nestled in the charming town of Fayetteville, this boutique hotel offers a delightful blend of modernity and rustic charm. Perfect for those seeking a unique and character-filled experience, the venue boasts wooden floors and thoughtfully repurposed furniture.

Immerse yourself in the allure of camping while indulging in the comfort of modern amenities. Ideal for families and pet owners, this is a haven for those wanting to revel in luxury amidst the embrace of nature.

So, there you have it—a family adventure at Devil’s Den State Park, where every step is a stride into the extraordinary. Embrace the whimsy, conquer the trails, and create memories that will make even the most mischievous devils jealous. Pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and prepare for a devilishly delightful escape into the heart of nature’s enchantment.

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Happy Travels!

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