Queen Wilhelmina State Park
Official Website: Queen Wilhelmina State Park
One of the most popular local attractions can be found 13 miles northwest of downtown. Queen Wilhelmina State Park, also known as “The Castle in the Sky” attracts thousands to its majestic peak each year. Queen Wilhelmina is Mena’s crown jewel and is located just 13 miles northwest of town along Talimena National Scenic Byway. The majestic panoramic views from the Park are spectacular, and true to its name, makes guests feel like visiting royalty!
Must Sees at Queen Wilhelmina State Park:
Queen Wilhelmina Lodge
Since 1898, the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge has been known as “The Castle in the Sky”. The lodge was named in honor of the Queen of the Netherlands, Queen Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria, since the local railroad venture was financed largely by Dutch interest. The lodge was beautifully constructed from native stone and timber at a cost of $100,000. After being abandoned by the owners and left to deteriorate, the lodge was rebuilt in 1963. However, 10 years later in November of 1973, the lodge was destroyed by a devastating kitchen fire. Arkansas State Parks lost no time rebuilding the lodge and it again opened to visitors in 1975.
Within walking distance of the lodge are the park’s campground with 41 sites and a modern bathhouse, a playground, the train engine, the park amphitheater, the Wonder House and hiking trails. Open seasonally are a min
iature train and mini-golf course (admission fees apply).
Mountain Glory Station
Take a ride on the miniature train at the Mountain Glory Station and enjoy scenic views around Queen Wilhelmina State Park. This privately-operated concession is near park entrance. You can also play a round or two of miniature golf here, followed by a quick meal or snack. This concession is open seasonally from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.
- Open: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturday); 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. (Sunday)
- Closed: Monday
Contact the Mountain Glory Station at 479-437-3331 for further information and to arrange group visits.
Lovers Leap Trail
Difficulty: Easy to Strenuous
This trail begins at the stairs on the north-east side of the lodge circle drive. The first 1/3 of the trail is a nice stroll along the north slope of Rich Mountain. With bridges, stairs and benches to rest on, you can easily make the gentle climb to the wooden overlook and be rewarded with a panoramic view of the south slope of Rich Mountain and Powell Valley.
Beyond the overlook, the trail is a little more difficult due to elevation changes, rocky areas and steep slopes. Just past the overlook, the Ouachita National Recreation Trail turns left; this intersection is well marked. The Lover’s Leap Trail continues to the right at this junction. It descends along the south face of the mountain through the rich hardwood forest and back to the south side of the lodge. The climb up to the lodge may be strenuous.
This trail begins south of the lodge at the stairs, and continues 1/3 of a mile down the hill to a stone reservoir. The reservoir was part of the water system for the 1898 hotel. Just up the hill from the reservoir is an excellent spring that was said to have curative powers.
Beginning behind the stage at the amphitheater, you’ll walk west 100 yards to the spring. This was a favorite gathering place for early mountain settlers and is still a great oasis of relaxation and reflection. The trail continues past the spring for about 1/2 mile and comes out on State Highway 88 across from the west end of the campground. You may return by the same trail, or cross the road into the park.
Ouachita National Recreation Trail
Official Trail Map
This is the longest trail in the Ouachita National Forest spanning 192 miles across its entire length. Paralleling portions of the 54-mile Talimena National Scenic Byway, the trail crests Winding Stair and Rich Mountains, opening a showcase of forested mountains and sweeping valleys. There is a trail-head on the Talimena Scenic Drive just past the west end of the Queen Wilhelmina State Park campground. Parking is available at the lodge.