Back in pre-COVID 2020, we went on a road trip quest to visit all the national parks in Arkansas. It’s no small coincidence that a state nicknamed “The Natural State” would have much to offer when it comes to parks. Great hikes, gorgeous rivers, historical sites, and plenty to fill a road trip itinerary. If you’re looking for a mix of family friendly and nature forward destinations–without traveling to the larger parks out west–consider an Arkansas National Park road trip. So, how many national parks are in Arkansas? Of the more than 400+ units in the National Park Service, there are 7 national park units in Arkansas and 1 National Historic Trail (affiliated site).
About Arkansas's National Parks
Here are some facts you should know about Arkansas’s national park units:
- The lands that now form Arkansas’s national park units were historically inhabited by the Caddo Nation, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and the Osage Nation. In addition, the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek) and Seminole Nation of Oklahoma also resided in Arkansas after their forced removal from Native lands in the southeast.
- More than 3.2 million people visit the 7 national park units in Arkansas each year.
- The parks add more than $226 million in economic benefit to the communities around the state.
There are more than 1.9 million artifacts, memorabilia and historic objects preserved by the National Park Service museum collections in Arkansas. Many of them from historic and natural landmarks.
Arkansas National Park Map
About the National Parks in Arkansas
About the National Parks in Arkansas
Location: Gillett, AR NPS Website: https://www.nps.gov/arpo/index.htm In 1686, the French fur traders established a trading post where the lower Arkansas River merged with the Mississippi River. For two hundred years, the location served as a trading destination for French, Spanish and the local Quapaw. Today, visitors can explore three hundred years of history preserved at the Post, including trails, exhibits, and military demonstrations. Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations Stamps for Arkansas Post National Memorial can be found at the Visitor’s Center.
Buffalo National RiverBuffalo National River
Location: Harrison, AR NPS Website: https://www.nps.gov/buff/index.htm Established in 1972, Buffalo National River was America’s first National River. Meandering through the bluffs of the Ozark Mountains, the park preserves 135 miles of pristine river. The Buffalo River stands as one of the few completely undimmed river ways in the lower 48. Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations Stamps for Buffalo National River can be found throughout the park. Check in at Park Headquarters, the Tyler Bend Visitor Center, Buffalo Point Ranger Station, and Steel Creek Ranger Station.
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/fosm/index.htm Fort Smith National Historic Site was established in 1961 to preserve the remaining historic buildings of Fort Smith. Established in 1817, the fort served as the location for several key points in history, including the Trail of Tears and the federal courthouse serving much of the West in the late 1800s. Today the park sits on 75 acres of downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas on the banks of the Arkansas River. Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations Stamps for Fort Smith National Historic Site can be found at the Visitor’s Center.
All About Fort Smith NHS
Want to know more about Fort Smith? Check out Park Chasers 2020 trip recap.
Hot Springs National Park
Location: Hot Springs, Arkansas Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/hosp/index.htm Did you know that Hot Springs National Park is technically the first national park? Even though Yellowstone and Yosemite were some of the first to be established as national parks, the lands where Hot Springs National Park now sit were the first to be reserved by the federal government as public lands. At one time, more than 47 different springs bubbled hot water here, giving the area the nickname “Valley of the Vapors.” Today visitors can hike, take a bath in one of the historic bathhouses, and even grab a beer in the first brewery established inside a national park. Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations Stamps for Hot Springs National Park can be found at the Visitor’s Center (Fordyce Bathhouse) and the Lamar Bathhouse Bookstore.
Document Your Trips with A National Park Passport
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Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/chsc/index.htm Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is the only operating high school located within a National Historic Site. As a national park in Arkansas, it serves two roles: to educate a new generation of Little Rock teens and to preserve the stories of nine African American students who, in 1957 bravely sought their own education (and equality) while the rest of the world watched. The site includes the existing High School Building, a restored gas station where members of the media staged broadcasts during the events at Central High, and the Visitor Center (across the intersection from the High School). The park service recently acquired some of the homes near the school in hopes of preserving some of the surrounding neighborhood. Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations Stamps for Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site can be found at the Visitor’s Center desk.
What You Need to Know Before Visiting Little Rock Central High School NHS
Want to know more about the school and booking a tour to the site? Check out Park Chasers 2020 trip recap for everything you need to know before your visit.
Pea Ridge National Military Park
Park Location: Garfield, Arkansas Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/peri/index.htm Pea Ridge National Military Park was established by Congress in 1956 to preserve the site of the Battle of Pea Ridge. The park is considered one of the best-preserved battlefields of the Civil War era. The Battle occurred on March 7-8, 1862 with roughly 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers involved. Ultimately, the Union army prevailed. It’s also a destination on the Trail of Tears, an affiliate site of the National Park Service. Roughly 2.5 miles of the National Historic Trail travel through the park–perfect for a morning of hiking. Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations stamps for Pea Ridge National Military Park can be found at the Visitor’s Center desk.
A Guide to Hiking at Pea Ridge National Military Park
Most people don’t naturally put hiking and Civil War battlefields together. Yet, it turns out that spending time on foot is exactly how you should learn about these unique spaces in the National Park Service.
President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
Park Location: Hope, Arkansas Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/wicl/index.htm President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site was established on December 14, 2010 to preserve the home where our 42nd president spent the first four years of his life. Built in 1917, the home belonged to Clinton’s grandparents, Edith Grisham and James Eldridge Cassidy Clinton. Edith and James cared for the infant Bill after his father passed away while his widowed mother worked in New Orleans. Today, President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site includes both the birthplace home and an adjacent home converted into the park’s current visitor center and museum. Both buildings include documents, photos, and memorabilia of President Clinton’s childhoo Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations Stamps for President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site can be found at the Visitor’s Center desk.
All About President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site
Most people don’t naturally put hiking and Civil War battlefields together. Yet, it turns out that spending time on foot is exactly how you should learn about thInterested in visiting the Clinton Birthplace Home? Find out everything you need to know about tours, the gardens, and how much time to allow for your visit.ese unique spaces in the National Park Service.
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Location: Various throughout Arkansas NPS Website: https://www.nps.gov/trte/index.htm From 1838-1839, thousands of Cherokee were forcibly relocated from their traditional lands in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee to live in the newly formed Oklahoma Territory. Today, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail retraces the route and tells the story of the devastation felt by the Cherokee people. Today visitors can hike portions of the trail through Arkansas, as well as travel via motorcycle, bicycle or auto through many of the historic destinations. Passport Cancellation Stations Passport Cancellations Stamps for Trail of Tears National Historic Trail can be found throughout Arkansas. Check for stamps at the visitor’s centers in Arkansas Post National Memorial, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Mound Nebo State Park, Pea Ridge National Military Park, Petit Jean State Park, and Pinnacle Mountain State Park.