We took a short trip to Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas about four years ago. The park is located probably about halfway between Fayetteville and Fort Smith. There are basically two directions that one can head in when traveling to the park from Oklahoma (also it depends on where you live in Oklahoma).
Please note, that the basic driving directions are given if you’re traveling from Oklahoma (as that is where I currently live), so for driving directions from other states, please refer to Google maps.
So the two (or three) ways of getting to the park are as follow (*also note these directions are based off my readings of Google maps, so they may be a little off):
From northern Oklahoma: enter Arkansas via highway 412 (which goes through Tulsa and you’d be entering in Springdale), then get on I-49 south towards Fort Smith; coming from central Oklahoma: enter Arkansas via I-40 (entering just north of Fort Smith), continuing until you get to I-49 (which you would take heading north towards Fayetteville); then finally from southern Oklahoma: enter Arkansas via state highway 271 (which turns into I-540 in Arkansas), continue to I-40, take that ‘north’ to reach the turnoff for I-49, and then take that north towards Fayetteville.
Once you’re on I-49, you will want the exit for state highway 74 (which is also called W Devils Den Rd). You would stay on the highway until you get into the park and head towards the visitor centers.
Most roads through the park are winding, so drive carefully and watch out for wildlife! Also–please double check all directions either via Google Maps or a physical map–I’m not the best at giving directions. 🙂
The park offers both a small number of cabins to rent (if you’re not in the mood to camp), and several different camp grounds (one of which has an area for corralling horses).
We rented a small cabin for our short trip out there. It was a one-bedroom with a pullout bed in the ‘living’ room (which is where I slept).
There are three main activities that one can do within the park: hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. I did the first: hiking, only because 1) I do not own a good mountain bike, 2) didn’t have a bike with me; and 3) we don’t own horses. There are numerous trails within the park, and I think I managed to hike/walk a little over four of them (as we did turn around early on the Yellow Rock trail).
So I’ll list out the trails (and mention which ones I went on):
Butterfield Hiking trail (didn’t do)
CCC Interpretive Trail (did; the length is a quarter-mile loop)
This trail was just down the road from our cabin, so it was easy to get to–plus needed to walk through part of the trail to reach the creek and other hiking trails.
Cross Country Mountain Bike Trail (didn’t do–mainly because I didn’t have a bike with me)
Devil’s Den Self-Guided Trail (did; length is a mile and a half loop).
So one thing about the self-guided trail–it was not flat, there was some ‘climbing’ involved since one couldn’t put normal stairs throughout the forest.
There were also several caves along the trail–but they were all closed to help protect the bats that reside within them from getting sick (mainly the fungus that has been spreading throughout the bat populations).
There was even a small waterfall on the hike.
We started the Devil’s Den Self-Guided Trail close to the visitor’s center and ended just down the road from the center.
Fossil Flats Trail (didn’t do; looks to be a mountain bike only [possibly] trail)
Gorley King Trail (didn’t do)
Lake Trail (did; the length is half a mile one way; so mile in total when you turn around and head back)
So saw the signs that a beaver (or more) were in the area, but since they’re more nocturnal creatures, I realized that I probably wasn’t going to get a picture of them.
So this was the ‘largest’ wild animal I saw on the trip, but it wasn’t the only deer I saw (just the one I got the best picture of).
I also saw a nice size box turtle on the evening walk as well. I walked this ‘trail’ in the evenings–just to see what type of wildlife I might be able to spot.
Lee Creek Trail (didn’t do)
Moonshiner’s Cave Trail (didn’t do)
Old Road Trail (didn’t do)
Vista Point Trail (didn’t do)
Woody Plant trail (I think I did this, combining it with the lake trail). The Woody plant trail by itself is only a quarter of a mile one-way trail.
Following the Lake Trail also gave good views of the creek, which was actually flowing (it may actually be dry a good portion of the year).
I managed to get pictures of quite a few different wildflowers, and after four years I’m still working on identifying them.
The final trail within the park is the Yellow Rock Trail, which we did part of (I want to say that we did about a third of it; it is a three mile loop, and I know we turned around before the ‘loop’).
So that is what we managed to get done in a three-day stay in the park. I would love to go back to the park and repeat (and finish) the Yellow Rock Trail, and try the Butterfield, Old Road, Lee Creek, and Moonshiner’s Cave trails. Being out in nature is one of my ‘happy places’, especially if it somewhere ‘new’ and there are people to explore it with.
It has been over two and half years since my last vacation/trip (there was the pandemic last year, and wanting to save my vacation time for payout in 2019); and while I’m starting to get the ‘travel bug’ slightly–I’m also going to try to be more mindful and purposeful in terms of future travels.
This is a wonderful park to spend time in, with numerous areas to explore and nature and history to appreciate. So in honor of June being ‘Get Outdoors Month’–if you’re close to the park, I highly recommend the park for that purpose.