Our Stay at Greers Ferry Lake – Arkansas

Today I want to share about a recent trip we took to Juniper Tree Lodge overlooking Greers Ferry Lake in Central Arkansas. This was our first time in the area, and we were amazed by the views and hospitality.

The lodge includes three bedrooms and a roomy yet cozy indoor living area as well as an expansive outdoor living space with inspiring views of the lake.

We arrived on a rainy weekend, so we were thankful for amenities like a large covered deck, nice firepit, indoor and outdoor fireplace, and the 7 x 14 swim spa.

One of my favorite design elements was the accessibility of a full bathroom onto the deck which allowed our kids to easily go from the spa to shower without getting the entire living room wet. So smart! I should have taken more pictures of the inside spaces because they were beautifully done, however I couldn’t take my eyes off the sunset views.

Before visiting the Lodge, I was a little nervous about the location because I have young kids (I’m cautious by nature). The website mentioned that the home is perched 600 ft above Greers Ferry lake on the bluffs. We talked about the importance of always sticking with adults and we didn’t venture off the deck area without holding hands.

restaurants in greers ferry and heber springs, arkansas

We didn’t have to go out to many restaurants because the kitchen was fully stocked with everything we needed to make meals plus the home is furnished with both a gas grill and a charcoal grill. We shopped for groceries at Harps in nearby Heber Springs, Arkansas.

We drove to Las Playitas Greers Ferry for Mexican Food which we enjoyed. I made the somewhat embarrassing mistake of ordering a margarita. I didn’t realize that Greers Ferry is located in a dry county and doesn’t serve alcohol. Oops!

During our stay we ate lunch in Heber Springs at Hilda’s Home Cooking which serves ‘authentic Southern food made entirely from scratch.’ In an attempt to eat healthy, I ordered a salad and soup combination which was very flavorful, but I’m still regretting not ordering the banana pudding when I had the chance.

Nearby Hikes and attractions

If you love nature, there are many things to do in Heber Springs, Arkansas. We enjoyed a visit to Bridal Veil Falls. The hike to the viewing deck is short and easy, we just had to watch the kids because it was a little slippery on trails from recent rainfall. According to park signage, the waterfalls are also known as Cornelius Falls after the former landowner.

Besides Greers Ferry lake and these spectacular waterfalls, this area is also home to the Little Red River, a premier-class trout stream. The Lodge’s website lists several additional attractions including the marina and fishing guides.

Greers Ferry is located approximately three hours from our home in Fayetteville, Arkansas making this an easy trip for our family. We took a wonderful detour on our way with a stop at Petit Jean State Park which I wrote about here

Introverts Guide to Estes Park, Colorado

I’ve been on a search for a better vacation destination for our family than Estes Park, Colorado. Guess what!? I haven’t discovered one yet. The reason why is because Estes Park combines the beauty of the natural world with a lot of family-friendly entertainment options.

I found a fun article, The Vacation You Should Take, Based on Your Introverted Myers-Briggs Type. I believe there is something in Estes Park for every personality type or mood that you are in. Here are some ideas for my fellow introverts:

The article says that ‘INTJ: Go on a reading retreat at a secluded cabin’. If this is you, Estes Park is perfect because there are a lot of cabins like ours to rent in Estes Park. One of my favorite things to do on vacation is sit by our fireplace and get lost in a good book. I stock up on books when I’m in town at Macdonald Bookshop and Cliffhanger Used Books. Check out my Book Lovers Guide to Estes Park.

For the personality type INTP, the article suggests you ‘Attend your favorite convention, like Comic-Con.’ I used to work at a convention center, so I know there is a convention for every hobby. Some of the hobby conventions held in Estes Park include the Craft Spirits Festival, Bigfoot Days, and Wool Market which are held at Estes Park Events Complex. There is also a large Scottish-Irish Highlands Festival at the Estes Park Fairgrounds.

INFP types should ‘Connect with nature, like going on a quiet forest retreat’. Estes Park is located next to Rocky Mountain National Park. There are countless opportunities to connect with nature in the park. However, because this is such a popular tourist destination, you’ll benefit from venturing to the park during off-peak seasons such as winter and spring. If you go during summer months, avoid holiday weekends, get up early, and go hiking further than most fellow hikers (over 3 miles). One of my favorite spots to connect with nature is the Calypso Cascades in the Wild Basin.

The article says ISFP types should ‘Take a trip to the beach’. Based on the articles description (‘love spending time with a few favorite friends and hobbies’ + ‘often like to be creative and to explore new places’), this is the personality type I most relate to. One of the things I struggle most with Estes Park is that I feel like I’m going to run out of new places to explore if we keep going back every year. That’s why I often come up with ‘food adventures’ on our trip. For example we went to all the Asian restaurants in town to figure out which we liked most. We also did a Cinnamon Roll Showdown and searched for Estes Park’s best bowl of chili.

Finally, INFJ types should ‘Have “creative space” at an Airbnb in a new town.’ For these types I recommend going on a relaxing stroll along Estes Park Riverwalk. First stop at Kind Coffee whose mission is to ‘Promote the sustainability of our environment through the sales of certified organic and fairly traded coffees’. Next step into one of the town’s numerous art galleries. This summer I’m excited to check out Joy House, ‘a store made up of gifts that are all made by friends with special needs or disabilities.’ You might also enjoy spending time in Rocky Mountain National Park sketching or photographing the incredible mountain landscape and wild animals like elk or moose that frequent the area. For tips check out local photographer Erik Stensland’s new book, ‘The Photographers Guide to RMNP’.

Balto Statue in Central Park

From the Belvedere Castle to a zoo, there is a lot for tourists and locals to enjoy in Central Park, but for us there was only one priority – to see the statue of Balto,’The Bravest Dog Ever’.

Our interest in the famous Alaskan sled dog began early this school year when our daughter’s first grade teacher gave her a book about famous dogs. The story featured Balto and the incredible mission to save children in the small town of Nome, Alaska from an outbreak of diphtheria in 1925.

This story captured our daughter’s imagination and soon we were ordering other versions of the book including ‘The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Step-Into-Reading)’ and ‘Balto of the Blue Dawn (Magic Tree House: Merlin Missions Book 26)’. Through our Balto research, we discovered that there is a bronze statue of Balto in Central Park. Since we were planning a trip to New Jersey to visit family, we decided to find the statue in New York City on our Spring Break trip.

On a Sunday morning, we took a train from New Jersey to Penn Station in New York. We were a little nervous to use busy public transportation with our kids, but they did great. Here is a map of the NJ Transit Rail System. At Penn Station we were able to get on the Subway (Subway Map) to Central Park and the Museum of Natural History.

We attempted to re-create a picture we took during our first trip to New York, which was six years ago. I wrote about our experience visiting New York with a baby stroller here.

At last, we found Balto! You can find out more information about ‘one the most beloved monuments in the Park’ from the Central Park Conservancy.

Arkansas Winter Hikes at Devil’s Den State Park

Today I’m looking back at a hike we did last January at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas.

Yellow Rock

My husband and I were able to schedule a babysitter so that we could hike the Yellow Rock Trail (3 miles) and the Devil’s Den Self Guided Trail (1.5 miles) back-to-back.

Pairing these two hikes makes a great combination because you get the views from Yellow Rock and great waterfalls and caves/rock formations on the Devil’s Den Self-Guided Trail. In a short amount of time, you get a good taste of what makes Arkansas hiking so incredible.

January is typically cold in Arkansas, but when the sun is shining, winter is one of my favorite times to hike in the Natural State.

rock formations decorated with icicles.

Arkansas waterfalls

Melting icicles and snow led to more active water flow. We spotted extra waterfalls along the Self-Guided trail compared to when we hiked it during the hot summer months.

On previous trips to Devil’s Den State park, we hiked the Yellow Rock trail with our kids which I wrote about here. We also hiked the Self-Guided Trail and wrote about that here.

Devil’s Den State Park website includes hours, directions, and additional trail information.

Hike-it-baby’s website reviews the Yellow Rock trail and gives great pointers about hiking with children and pets on this trail.