The woman staffing the visitor center was not outgoing or helpful, but we did fine on our own, looking at exhibits:
and watching the bird feeder:
This statue is of Petit Jean, for whom the park is named:
We didn't realize there was a lake behind the building but went back another day once we figured that out:
You can rent a boat, but we didn't. They also offer Rent-A-Yurts, which you may can see through the trees:
There's a boarded up building between the Visitor Center and Lake Bailey:
Hardison Hall, built in 1948, was named after T. W. Hardison, a physician and naturalist who was instrumental in getting the area designated as a state park and who is considered the father of the park system. It was closed in 1974. Several efforts have been made to explore ways of renovating/restoring the building, but it seems the cost is prohibitive. Arkansas Online says,
Hardison Hall, measuring about 14,000 square feet, was built by the Arkansas Resources and Development Commission in 1948 at a cost of about $95,600. The structure’s original tri-level floor plan includes six 1,100-square-foot barracks-like dormitory rooms, four 200-square-foot bedrooms, a 200-person-capacity auditorium with a stage, and a 360-square-foot kitchen with a pantry. Additional areas within the structure include a 1,200-square-foot lounge, a reception area, a staff meeting room, an office, four restrooms and storage closets.There is a Facebook page campaigning to stop its demolition. It does seem a shame to raze it.