Relax on a Mountaintop

A soaring refuge and a place to call your own for the day--the new Winthrop Rockefeller Institute appeals to vacationers searching for a stress-free environment.
Farrah Austin

Sapphire skies, country-fresh air, and more than 188 acres foster serenity at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute near Morrilton, Arkansas.

Perched atop Petit Jean Mountain, the secluded facility shows the state's unsullied natural beauty and welcomes you to revel in it.

Ride Through the Countryside
Creative minds and active bodies find plenty to keep them occupied here.

Pedal to the edge of a mountainside. Or ramble into wildflower fields dotted with ox-eye daisies, Indian blankets, and wild phlox.

Paddleboats painted a bright traffic light-yellow send guests gliding across peaceful Lake Abby. After the ride they simmer down at a shady pavilion where floppy umbrellas give refuge from the heat. Use of amenities such as bikes, a sauna, and an exercise facility come free of charge for patrons staying overnight at the property's newly renovated accommodations.

Water, gardens, and "oh-wow" vistas attract more than just people to the institute. Like spotted-winged angels, monarch and swallowtail butterflies float through the butterfly garden from the end of July to mid-October.

One To Grow On
From the institute's beautiful earth comes a bounty of fresh crops. Heritage vegetable gardens flourish with fat tomatoes, corn, cabbage, sorghum, and peanuts--ingredients chef Steve Jenkins sometimes uses for his cooking classes ($59-$89 per person, which includes one meal), held the second Saturday of every month. Topics include the art of canning, the fundamentals of soupmaking, and how to cook pasta from scratch.

These classes as well as others on horticulture and fit living do more than just continue the legacy of the institute and its founder--billionaire business mogul and twice-elected Arkansas governor Winthrop Rockefeller. They promote a healthier lifestyle for everyone--one bike-riding, nature-exploring step at a time.

Winthrop Rockefeller Institute: Petit Jean Mountain, 1 Rockefeller Drive, Morrilton, AR 72110; (501) 727-5435. Rates: start at $79.

Healthy Benefits
• Research on treatments for depression has found that subjects had better self-esteem after taking a walk through a park.
• Cycling burns calories and builds leg strength, which improves overall mobility.