PARIS, Ark. (KTHV) -- The highest point in Arkansas boasts a gorgeous view of the countryside. Mount Magazine State Park is the top of the state-- literally at 2,753 feet in elevation.
The area became a state park in 1989 and is home to a new 3-story lodge, one of only 4 state park lodges in Arkansas.
Standing tall and majestic above the Petit Jean Valley,
Overlooking Blue Mountain Lake. As the state's highest point in elevation, Mount Magazine is a sight to behold.
Becky Bariola is the superintendent of the State Park. She says, "Visitor-wise, last year we had close to 270,000 visitors come through the park."
Mount Magazine sits on U.S. Forest Property and is relatively new in the state parks system. But it lacks nothing for visitors who stop by.
Bariola says "It also has a variety of wildlife. Of wildflowers that you can find up here on the mountain top. We have trails. It's also a nice adventure type park. We have hang-gliders and then on into the forest area we have some great ATV trails."
Park Interpreter Don Simons takes us up Signal Hill Trail. Climbing up it he says, "It's different every week. You never know what's going to be blooming. One of my favorite plants to talk about on Mount Magazine is Sassafras. It's the original source for sassperilla and root beer! And we have some of the largest Sassafras trees in the state--right here on Mount Magazine."
Black bears are known to be fans of those big tasty leaves and they're no strangers to these rangers! Simons says, "But they've never been threatening or anything like that. They're just...curious. They usually show up after a barbecue. When they smell some barbecue. Of course we don't feed them. "
The hike UP the mountain is far from boring--especially if you know what to soak in. The state's tree is the Pine--but have you ever seen a Paw Paw tree?
Simons finds a Paw Paw tree and says, "The fruit is kinda like a pear in shape and it tastes like a tangy banana! They're usually ripe in September."
Just a few degrees cooler and 2,753 feet above the ground you reach the main attraction.
A monument constructed at the highest point in Arkansas. It is appropriately in the shape of the great state of Arkansas. And just like any gracious host, they've got a guest book at the top. They've been gathering signatures for the past 10 years! From California to Missouri to Arkansas --and other points across the world--visitors have all been to the highest point.
A small, shiny survey marker from 1926 remains embedded in the ground. The forest service took over in the late 1930s.
Some things haven't changed. Visitors are invited to enjoy but don't disturb.
Bariola says, "We are a wildlife refuge. So all the wildlife, wildflowers are protected and we ask that it remains in the park." Bariola not only works on the mountain but LIVES here too. She says the trails are her favorite thing--every one is unique and the changing of the seasons make them shine!
Each summer Mount Magazine hosts its Butterfly Festival to showcase 90 different species!
"It's the prime time of the year to see butterflies. And it's featured around the Diana Fritillary that is now the Arkansas state butterfly." says Bariola.
Those colorful creatures--along with the bears, deer, rabbits, squirrels, hummingbirds, and much moreare just some of the jewels in this 2,200 acre treasure chest that's come to be known as "An Island in the Sky".