The 14 Tanyard Springs cabins sit on top of Petit Jean Mountain and are just barely outside the Petit Jean State Park, so they are a very short drive to everything the park offers.
Each cabin at Tanyard Springs has a unique floor plan and location within a gated area called The Settlement (the Tanyard House is the one exception, sitting slightly outside the gated area). The Settlement is a spacious subdivision with cabins on large wooded lots. Most of the cabins have log exteriors while offering modern conveniences such as a stocked kitchen (pots and pans, etc.), bathroom, comfortable beds, linens, towels, and A/C (the heat index was 100 degrees for most of our trip, so we appreciated the A/C). The cabins don’t have TVs, Wi-Fi, or phones, and generally don’t get cell phone coverage.
My husband and I spent 4 nights in the Woodsman cabin in June, 2013. It was a great log cabin with handmade furniture, a good layout, and decorative details such a square nails and wood shutters. It didn’t qualify as rustic or luxurious, but fit somewhere in-between while still managing to pull off charming. I really wavered on how many stars to rate our Woodsman experience. We loved the cabin but got fed up with how many people hung out in the Woodsman’s yard to fish in the pond.
The Woodsman sits on a good-sized wooded lot. The cabin is close to the road but car traffic was nearly non-existent. We could see three other cabins (Springhouse, Frontiersman, and Sheepherder) from inside the Woodsman or its yard. There was a decent foliage / tree zone to buffer the view between the Woodsman and the other nearby cabins, except the Frontiersman cabin was clearly visible. The Woodsman’s front porch offers a glider. Its yard includes a grill, picnic table, hammock, and swing.
Something you’ll want to closely consider before booking the Woodsman is that its location overlooking the Tanyard Springs fishing pond manages to be both its perk and drawback.
A perk because the close proximity to the pond was really enjoyable at times. We sat in the glider on the front porch and drank our morning coffee while looking out over the pond. We did some fishing, watched the ducks, napped in the hammock, and grilled and ate our dinner outside. It was also fun some evenings to sit on the swing near the water just after dark, when animals would leave the wooded area to get to the water. Sounds great, right?
Well, then there were those other times. We knew the pond was available to everyone at Tanyard Springs when we booked the Woodsman, but we also thought the pond would be large with plenty of space (outside the Woodsman’s yard) for people to access it. It also looked that way on the map that was mailed to us before our trip. The reality completely killed the sense of seclusion that we wanted and there were many times when it was hard to enjoy the Woodsman’s outdoor space.
From early evening until nightfall on 2 of the 4 nights we stayed at the Woodsman, 6 people showed up, parked their big ol’ trucks in the Woodsman’s yard, and either stood in the yard to fish or sat in the Woodsman’s swing. And they were loud – noisy conversations and screaming kids. There were also 1-3 random people at any given time of day (during our entire stay) who passed through the Woodsman’s yard or stopped to fish. Even when people fished in what I considered the public part of the pond (a very small spot without shade that didn’t fall within any cabin’s yard), they were directly in our line of sight and not far away. We could also see and hear kids run around the pond some nights with flashlights to find frogs, etc.
To boot, we never caught a fish in the pond and didn’t see that anyone else did either. If you really want to fish, you’re far better off buying a short term fishing license at the Lake Bailey boat house and fishing on the lake. It’s a short drive from Tanyard Springs.
In contrast, it was a nice surprise to find that the cabin was better stocked than we expected. For example, Tanyard Springs provided hotel-style bath soaps and shampoo packets. In the kitchen, beyond the basic pots and pans and utensils, there were things such as a coffee maker (with packets of Folgers coffee, sugar, Splenda, and powered cream), crock pot, muffin tin, bottle / cork screw opener, salt and pepper, dish soap, and a flashlight. The kitchen also included a refrigerator/ freezer combo and an electric range with an oven.
Here’s a list of some of the things we were glad we brought or wished we had:
> Drinking water. The tap water in the cabin seemed safe and clean, but it tasted awful. We ended up driving about a mile and half to a store called The Outpost to buy 1 gallon jugs of water.
> Grilling utensils, charcoal, lighter.
> Board games, card games, and books. They’re good entertainment after the sun goes down or when it’s too hot in the middle of the day to enjoy being outside.
> Bug spray that contains at least 20% DEET. Ticks and mosquitos are bad everywhere this year, and Petit Jean Mountain was no exception. We used bug spray every day. I found the 20% number in online articles after having a terrible experience with ticks closer to home.
> Aluminum foil. Handy to use for grilling and covering food.
> Zip top bags. Nice for left overs or packing a picnic lunches for hiking.
> Condiments (except salt and pepper, which is already provided). You’ll need to bring things like butter, olive oil, steak seasoning, mustard, or anything else you use when cooking.
> Marshmallow roaster sticks and stuff to make s’mores. It was fun to use the left over grill heat to make s’mores. The telescoping roaster sticks are easy to pack.
It isn’t mentioned on the Tanyard Springs website and they don’t mention it until you arrive, but you might find it helpful to know beforehand that Tanyard Springs doesn’t provide cleaning/maid service while a cabin is rented. This wasn’t an issue for my husband and me but I was surprised to find out so late in the process. The Woodsman was very, very clean when we arrived. They swapped out dirty towels for clean if we left them on the front porch. They also left extra packets of coffee on the porch and cleared out the used coals from the outdoor grill each day.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.