Arkansas National Parks
The Natural State is known for its outdoor adventure, but Arkansas's National Parks have some remarkable U.S. history to explore as well. Come #FindYourPark in Arkansas.
Arkansas National Parks
Table of Contents
7 National Parks in Arkansas
Other NPS-Affiliated Sites in Arkansas
Arkansas Post National Memorial
Arkansas Post lies at the confluence of two great rivers, the Arkansas and Mississippi. Over hundreds of years, this area has been an important strategic location for its inhabitants. Its establishment goes all the back to 1686. From there, Arkansas Post has been the site of the only battle of the Revolutionary War in Arkansas, served as the first capital of Arkansas Territory before it became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, and was a Confederate stronghold during the American Civil War. For these reasons, Arkansas Post National Memorial stands as an important reminder of the history that has taken place here.
Visitors to the site can explore the Visitor Center where they can watch a short film, hike around the nearby trails through the forest, watch historic weapons demonstrations, and enjoy fishing in and around the park. Arkansas Post National Memorial is about an hour from Pine Bluff, AR.
Buffalo National River
The Buffalo River is one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the lower 48 United States. It was created in 1972 and flows for 135 miles. Paddling and canoeing is very popular of course, but so is hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, horseback riding, and night sky viewing. There are several access points along the river, and guided tours are available. For those who are Scouters, Camp Orr is the only Scout Camp and High Adventure Base located entirely within a National Park and sits along the Buffalo River.
Fort Smith National Historic Site (AR, OK)
Fort Smith was established on Christmas Day in 1817, was eventually converted into a Federal Courthouse, and was finally decommisioned in 1896. In its early years, the Fort served as a home and barracks for the U.S. Army. In its later years, Fort Smith had Federal jurisdiction over Indian Territory and modern-day Oklahoma.
Today, visitors can explore Belle Point (site of the first Fort Smith), the Trail of Tears Overlook and River Walk, and stand on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, the Commissary and Second Fort Smith Grounds, and the Historic Barracks/Courthouse/Jail Buildings where the Visitor Center is also located.
Hot Springs National Park
On April 20th, 1832, President Andrew Jackson signed legislation to federally protect Hot Springs, effectively making it the first National Park and predating Yellowstone by 40 years. However, since the National Park system was not yet created, it wasn't until 1921 that Hot Springs officially became a National Park Unit. Hot Springs National Park protects the beautifully restored bathhouses along Central Avenue in downtown. Here, you'll find the Park Visitor Center, shops, and a fully restored Edwardian bathhouse. Not only have the bathhouses been restored to their former glory, a few still offer traditional baths using water from the springs.
Even though it's one of the smallest National Parks in the system (that honor now goes to Gateway Arch National Park), it has a quirky and fun factor that's different from many of the other parks. The park also includes 26 miles of hiking trails through the surrounding forest and mountains that visitors can explore. A stroll down the Grand Promenande is a must - just like guests did during the Edwardian Era at its prominence. For some great views of the Ouachita National Forest, take a ride up the 216-ft. Hot Springs Mountain Tower.
Be sure to read our blog post for more information on visiting Hot Springs National Park.
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
In 1957, Little Rock Public Schools decided to desegregate, setting into motion a series of events that would change the Nation. The Little Rock Nine as they were called, were nine African American students that arrived to Little Rock's Central High School for class that fateful day and are now considered civil rights activists.
This Historic Site remembers the courage of these young students and educates visitors on what it was like during that turbulent time in America's history. It also serves to interpret the role of these events in the development of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Guided tours of the school are available on a limited basis, and reservations must be made well in advance of your visit. The Visitor Center is open daily and provides information, exhibits, and is where you meet for your tour if you have one.
Central High School in Little Rock is the only school in the Nation to be designated as a National Historic Site.
Pea Ridge National Military Park
This 4,300-acre battlefield honors the 23,000 soldiers who fought in the Battle of Pea Ridge, one of the most pivotal battles fought in the West during the American Civil War. The battle was ultimately won by the Federal Army, and it proved to be a decisive one for the war.
Pea Ridge National Military Park is one of the most intact battlefields in the United States. Visitors can hike the 7-mile trail that leads through both historic and natural areas of the park. Horseback riding and bicycling are also available. An annual reenactment of the battle is a chance for visitors to see demonstrations and learn more about the battle.
President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site preserves the childhood home of America's 42nd President. The Visitor Center offers guests an opportunity to explore Clinton's early years growing up in Hope, Arkansas, and guided tours of the home leave every thirty minutes. Hope is about two hours southwest of Little Rock.
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail - (AL, AR, GA, IL, KY, MO, NC, OK, TN)
The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates the forceful removal of the Cherokees from their homes in Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. States participating the the Trail are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. More than 16,000 Cherokee were relocated between 1838 and 1839, and the trail documents their stories of suffering, illness, and death, but also preserves their routes and important sites along the Trail.