Return of the Queen


Oh, the difference $9.6 million makes. Turns out, even a
queen needs a makeover every 40 years or so.
If you ever visited the lodge at Queen Wilhelmina State
Park on Rich Mountain before it closed for renovations in
early 2012, you probably remember the stunning panoramic
view over the Ouachitas. You might also remember the
lodge’s mid-70s facilities and furnishings.
At last, Queen Wilhelmina State Park has a lodge worthy
of its view.
On July 1, the refurbished Queen Wilhelmina State
Park lodge reopens to the public, ready to welcome new
generations of tourists to its expansive porches, large
windows and buttery yellow hallways with crown molding
leading to 40 affordably posh rooms.
State Parks Director Greg Butts said the panoramic scenery
was of paramount importance in planning the redesign,
calling the view “an important part of the Queen Wilhelmina
State Park experience.” The guest room windows were once
tall and narrow, with no wide-open views in sight; now, they
are the rooms’ best feature.
The renovations were funded mostly by Arkansas Natural
and Cultural Resources grants, and a portion of the state’s
1/8-cent conservation tax. The
attention to detail that went into
every element of the redesigned
space is readily apparent in the
At a media preview of the lodge
June 11, Richard Davies, executive
director of Arkansas State Parks and
Tourism, heartily thanked The Borné Firm and Nabholz
Construction for bringing the project down the winning
homestretch with style and professionalism. People cared
about making the Queen look her best, he noted.
First things first: the pictures do not do it justice. They
can’t. This is a place to be experienced, explored, inhaled and
exhaled as you sit in one of the numerous wooden rocking
chairs lining the upper and lower porches.
The Queen Wilhelmina State Park lodge is located atop
the second-highest peak in Arkansas at 2,681 feet, only
around 100 feet lower than the lodge at Mount Magazine
State Park near Paris. At times, what looks like fog settling
over Rich Mountain is a low cloud bank coating the view in a
soft pastel haze.