Driving into Devils Den State Park was yet another adventure on curvy narrow roads, deep into the valleys of the rugged Boston Mountains of Arkansas. Since we traveled only 25 miles south of our previous stop in Fayetteville, we didn’t bother hooking up the car and I followed Betsy and captured her low-speed journey down the winding roads.
It was another challenging drive, but once we settled in and looked around we found that our site was super-spacious (Steve’s review of the campground is here). We were ecstatic when we saw that our new backyard was a wooded area with a creek and several trails just a few steps away. In these beautiful surroundings the lack of internet and phone connectivity was not a big deal, and hitting the trails became foremost on our agenda.
The brochure given to us at registration indicated that the name Devils Den was derived from a rugged series of bluffs, caves, crevices and rock formations.This park encompasses the largest sandstone crevice area in the United States. What I find strange is why the word “Devil” is used to name a place such as Devils Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin, or the Devils Tower in Wyoming or Devils River in Texas! Why not “Angel” or something else more serene?
But I digress – we came here to enjoy what Devil’s Den State Park is best known for, its natural history and the mountains that come alive with color during fall. We arrived a little too early for the prime fall foliage, but we cherished what we saw as we hiked throughout the area.
The crevice caves (as opposed to limestone caves), ravines and crevices were partly formed by slippage in sandstone formations. Large fractures occurred, then slid and cracked apart forming interconnected crevices that are littered throughout the valley. The park named these fractures or shapes as Devils Amphitheater, Devils Icebox, Devils Cave and the whole area as Devils Den. And to see these natural wonders we followed the 1.5-mile self-guided Devils Trail, which led us through this fascinating area that gave the park its name. The hike was moderately difficult, rocky and steep in places. Geologists consider this area a unique part of the Ozark’s Boston Mountains.
Another trail we followed was the Yellow Rock Trail, a 3-mile lollipop loop that took us into oak-hickory hardwood forest – typical in the Ozarks. Although the brilliant autumn hues were not at their optimum, the leaves along the trail were changing and showed some wonderful colors.
About a quarter mile from the trailhead we came across another bluff, a massive sandstone overhanging formation. We learned that this was a result of the brittle shale eroding faster than the solid sandstone above it.
After another mile of hiking we reached the Yellow Rock high bluff, which earned its name from the yellow iron oxide stains on its face. Standing atop Yellow Rock, we had an unobstructed view of the Lee Creek valley below us and a very colorful hillside. Lots of yellow, orange, pink, purple and red hues were peeking out from the hillsides. We rested here and soaked up the views as Turkey Vultures soared above the valley.
The state park is surrounded by the Ozark National Forest and is the result of one of the many works of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It was built during the 1930’s-1940’s, as were other CCC-built state parks we’ve visited, and their hard work and craftsmanship were displayed and celebrated. We saw a centerpiece of their legacy about a quarter mile from our campsite, the lake and a unique waterfall. These projects and several other buildings were built to seamlessly complement the landscape, and they have been well preserved for everyone’s enjoyment.
We were situated in campground “E”, which was just a few steps from the meandering waters of Lee Creek. Summer may be over, but this park remains very popular as a place to view the fall foliage. But an additional bonus was our spacious site and the surrounding woods that made it a perfect setting for solitude and quite walks in the woods.
It could be my imagination, but it seemed like the leaves were changing colors daily during our one-week stay here. In addition to hearing the rushing waters, singing birds and chirping crickets, the beauty of the colorful trees made my strolls along the creek and through the woods very peaceful and relaxing.
I lamented to Steve that we arrived here too early (week of Oct 17 ) and were missing the best time for the leaves to show off their brilliant intense colors. But I was wrong, for near our campsite I found leaves from individual and small groups of trees so gorgeous that my camera couldn’t capture all the colors of their leaves. I saw scarlet, deep mahogany, purple, black, pink and gold in stunning intensity.
Even if all of the leaves hadn’t turned while we were here, the beautiful fall hues did not disappoint. Fall foliage in the Ozarks is this area’s best kept secret. We so enjoyed our stay at Devils Den State Park that if we come this way again we will definitely stay here – we can survive without connectivity to the outside world for a while!
Magnificent hills and amazing colors. You hit it perfectly…loved your photos!!! The stone dam was sure sweet!
WOW! What a gorgeous stop and I think your shots of the fall colors you did see are wonderful! Love all the rocks too. I tell you, we are very “up in the air” about heading to the East…but these places you two have been visiting are just so darn pretty…it is enticing.
Lisa, if we meet sometime this spring, I can share you more details of these gorgeous places and the best time to be there.
We missed Vermont last year, so the fall foliage in the Ozarks was the next best thing.
What a lovely share… and magnificent photos…
On another note, we just passed a placed called Bulldog Country.
This looks like a fabulous place. It reminds me of the Mammoth Cave area but that campsite beats theirs for sure. I’m very surprised that the peak leaf wasn’t before Nov 4 that far south. Your pictures are just fabulous, really outstanding. I’ve never seen a CCC created waterfall. Thanks for putting this place on my list.
I can say that you would like this area Sherry, lots to explore and hiking was good. We were here on the second week of Oct and only a few leaves have changed.
Forgot to say that Native Americans call Devil’s Tower Bear’s Lodge so I do too. Seems early namers were fixated on the Devil in their fire and brimstone. Nature was the dark mysterious fearful place.
What a beautiful park! I don’t think it was your imagination that the colors were changing during the week that you were there — when I lived in New England the fall foliage changed dramatically within just a few days. Love seeing the fall colors through your lens. I’ve always thought I’d like to visit the Ozarks in the autumn, and now I’m sure that I do!
Oh yes, Laurel, fall here may not be as intense as NE but the Ozarks is way up there.When I see you again, I can give you more tips of where to stay especially the ones we missed.
WOW…what a cool, gorgeous hike. I love all the colors.
Beautiful photo of you, MonaLiza, with all the lovely trees!
Thank you Marsha. Coming from the west, I was really in awe with the fall colors here in the south.
Beautiful fall colors. Didn’t anyone tell you not to snap photos while you’re driving? LOL We just spent time without connectively at South Llano River SP…. very relaxing. We’re currently in San Antonio and will be in Galveston on Sunday 🙂
Oh boy, you caught me Ingrid :). Hope you took lots of bird pics at South Llano.
You’ve taken us to some very interesting place lately. I think Devil’s Den is my favorite. How gorgeous, and now I have another area to add to my must-see list!
We were really surprised how beautiful Northwest AR is. We missed a few more places to explore but these storms kept pushing us out.
Lovely photos! You did a great job sharing your week there and makes me want to go back sometime.
Thanks, there are still a lot to explore in AR, all the more reason to come back.
WOW that makes me really think about a trip back to the good ol’ Midwest. Love the sound of the place and of course your pictures. The CCC sure did great things. More information about what they endured and why the CCC was formed needs to be brought to the forefront. ‘Our roots’ so to speak, the basics of what made this country great. Oh, uhmmm, I did not mean to get on a soap box!,
Thanks for another great trip to a really cool place.
Agree, the CCC did a fantastic job despite what they endured. We don’t have someone like FDR that put young men to work 😦
And I wondewr if we did have an FDR if any of the young folks would be willing to get ‘dirty’. Doubt it.
That’s exactly right – can we imagine what it would take to get projects like that done these days? First we assemble a committee to review it, then get all of the permits and OSHA compliance completed. By then it’s cut out of the budget as “too expensive”! How great it must have been to just say, as the CCC did, “we can take it!”
You’re right on that too Steve. It takes a ‘get ‘er done’ attitude in a ‘get ‘er done’ time and I think both are a thing of the past. Sad. Ahhh, the good ol’ days!
America the Beautiful. You are lucky to experience such beautiful scenery and I am lucky that you take such great photos.
Thank you Debra. America is truly beautiful and there is still so much to discover.
Arkansas has not been on our list…ummm, maybe we need to change that! What a beautiful post MonaLiza. Fall is my favorite season and you captured it perfectly. Also I am loving the bluffs and rocks.
Oh Gay, on your way back to GA, AR should be on that route, especially the Northwest AR
Love your new header:) The foliage may not have been at peak but it was so beautiful. You has some awesome photos:) What a beautiful site to have with these gorgeous leaves!
You know how I love my rocks…well those were some very cool rock formations!! I really loved that first bluff that may have been inhabited.
The CCC did an amazing job on that dam. We hiked a trail they made today and what a fantastic trail it was. I told John that we need to bring the CCC back. I have several projects for them…like improving the trails on few of our really hard climbs! They built some magnificent trails.
Thank you Pam. The trees behind our campsite were really intense and was really in awe. And I get a different intensity when i go there at different times of the day.
I did think of you when were at those rock formations. At first we thought it was an upward lift that cause the formations, but was surprised to learn that it was the mountain that slide down and crumbled.
Agree lets bring those young men back, we have encountered unmaintained trails too.
Arkansas was also not on our list but what beautiful places you have posted! The colors are amazing and what great hikes. You are inspiring me to get out more!
This part of AR is really known for its fall foliage and was so glad we were in the middle of of the change. The hikes were added bonus.
Wonderful colors … all the more for those of us that don’t get to see any this year. Sounds like you found a great place in that state park.
The state park was really a good spot for fall colors. We missed Vermont last year so Im glad I caught some fall hues this year.
i think you saw fall colors at their peek this year. somehow this year was not as intense as others, only patches here and there. A group of friends were discussing just that as we explored Letchworth State Park this year in NY ( the grand canyon of the east).
Thanks, now I feel much better. The trees behind our campsite is where I really saw the most beautiful fall colors. This is really a treat for me as we are from the west and we don’t get to enjoy fall foliage as much.
You two find some amazing sights no matter where you travel. Autumn in the Ozarks looks to be very special. I also have often wondered at the name Devil being a part of so many sights throughout this country. Your photos are fabulous MonaLiza. 🙂
Thank you LuAnn. This part of AR, the northwest, lived up to its monicker, the Natural State.
Oh thanks, C. I think you would like to stay here, especially spring or fall.
Love your fall foliage photos. We traveled through Arkansas in October and missed a lot of those gorgeous colors.
Beth, the Ozarks are beautiful at fall, a good reason for you to go back and check it out.
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