Joy and Merlin Fox, in 1979, knew this 40 aerial acre nook by the Devil’s Den State Park near Fayetteville was home even though it fit none of the specifications that they thought they were looking for. They set up a tent, built a mailbox, dug a latrine and a composting bin, and began the construction of a small “cobb” village out of clay, sand and straw. Merlin Fox died of cancer in 1985 but Joy continues to run the retreat and focus on “yoga, vipassana meditation and dance, as well as a sanctuary for individual retreatants”.
The houses are free flow, creative and colorful works of art all built by hand, and are also low tech. Only one building houses flushing toilets; the rest are composting toilets. There are showers in two structures including the jacuzzi room and everyone is expected to adhere to a vegetarian diet while visiting. All food scraps go in the composting bins where deer and other animals scavenge occasionally.
Sights and activities include a mediation greenhouse-like structure, scattered landings around the property for meditation, and a creek bed, where slate walls surround you and according to Joy “powerful energy fields exist.” But pay attention! There are no markings or designated paths to follow out or back.
Know Before You Go
From Fayetteville, AR : take HWY 540 south to the Devil's Den exit at the West Fork exit #53. Turn right (west) towards the park, following HWY 170 (Devil's Den Road) signs for about 14 miles. At the sign that says
" Devil's Den State Park, 4 miles "
continue on Hwy 170 another half mile, there will be a 'Wattle Hollow' sign on the left, just before the driveway.( there is a stone cairn also on the left, and a small white house with mailboxes on the right.)
Go left down the driveway, after 1 mile, take the (only) right fork in the drive which is well-marked, and continue to the end of the road.