Mount Nebo State Park
Mount Nebo from Lake Dardanelle
Mount Nebo rises to 1,850 feet above sea level and offers sweeping views of the Arkansas River Valley from its summit. Mount Nebo State Park was established on the mountain in 1933. At that time, the Civilian Conservation Corps was available to build facilities and on Mount Nebo, they built trails, bridges, pavilions and rustic cabins. Today, the park offers 24 tent/RV campsites (with restrooms and showers nearby) and 10 tent-only walk-in campsites. There are also 14 fully-equipped cabins with kitchens and fireplaces available. While the 24 tent/RV sites offer electric and water hook-ups, there is no sewer and no dump station on the property.
Mount Nebo is encircled by 14 miles of hiking and biking trails. One of the favorites among the mountain-biking set is the 4.5-mile Bench Trail: a nearly level route around the sides of the mountain through the mixed pine and hardwood forest past springs and Fern Lake. There are several primitive tent sites along Bench Trail, too. The Bench itself is a hardened sandstone layer (impervious to water) extending through the mountain. Precipitation that falls on top of the mountain sinks into the ground and then re-emerges on the Bench in the form of several natural springs.
Mount Nebo State Park also offers tennis courts, a swimming pool, playgrounds, picnic areas, a baseball field and open and enclosed picnic pavilions. The visitor center has several exhibits and interpretive programs inside with a store that also offers bike rentals.
One thing to note: the park's boundaries are marked as there are a number of private residences around and on the mountain. These private residences were built before the mountain became a state park and most of them are still owned by descendants of the families that built them.
To get there: Go seven miles west from Dardanelle on Arkansas Highway 155. Vehicles with trailers over 24 feet long are discouraged from going to Mount Nebo as the road is very winding and twisted with several hairpin curves along the way.
Long before the Civil War, folks used Mount Nebo as a vacation spot because temperatures were cooler atop the mountain in the summer. In the 1890's, two 100-room hotels were operating on the mountain, visitors coming via riverboats on the Arkansas River. The Blevins hotel and 30 to 50 houses were built on the Bench, a large, flat sandstone shelf about 300 feet below the mountain's summit in the 1880's. The Summit Park Hotel was built on the summit in 1889 and saw a brisk business until it was destroyed by fire in February, 1918.
In the 1920's, the buildings atop Mount Nebo became part of the incorporated town of Mount Nebo. In 1924, Mount Nebo was the only town in Arkansas governed completely by women.
Photo of Mount Nebo courtesy of Chris Litherland, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License