I’ve been to Petit Jean State Park many times, but have never been there to shoot sunrise from the top of the mountain (mostly because it would mean having to wake up before sunrise and driving out there). But I headed out there the other weekend with two other photographers, leaving Little Rock in the dark. We arrived at Petit Jean before sunrise, with just a hint of pink in the sky. Eventually the sun finally appeared, rising above a curve in the Arkansas River.
These were taken at Stout's Point, the sandstone overlook that sits high above the Arkansas River Valley (it's also the supposed location of Petit Jean's grave, according to legend). Moss and lichen colonies cling to the side of the sandstone boulders, picking out a spot with a pretty good view.
We were the only ones at the overlook that morning, although we could see a few cars driving towards the mountain on the roads below. People have been visiting or living on Petit Jean Mountain for centuries, with evidence showing Native Americans living here as far back as 10,000 years ago.
There was a bit of haze outside, but about what you would expect for it being the summer in Arkansas.
Petit Jean was even considered to be a national park, but was deemed to be too small. Instead it became Arkansas' first state park. Probably the most popular feature of the park is Cedar Falls, but with it being summer there wouldn't have been much of any water in it. So instead we drove over to the Rock House Cave trail. Along the way, the short trail passes by the Turtle Rocks. The rocks are where ground water has slowly eroded through the cracks and crevices of the sandstone, resulting in polygonal mounds that resemble turtle shells.
We followed the trail to Rock House Cave, which is a large sandstone shelter that extends 100 feet into the bluff. There are several examples of Native American rock art and pictographs here, some dating back at least 1,000 years. It's a great spot, easy to see why people have been living or visiting this cave for centuries.
After that we headed back to the car, and started the drive back home. I was eager to take a nap in exchange for waking up before sunrise.