Arkansas State Parks Are Great For Families

There are many State Parks throughout Arkansas with a variety of activities to offer for families. Lake Fort Smith State Parks is located in the Ozark National Forest and is a wonderful place to get away from the city.

The Visitors Center

Inside the visitors center you will find many hands on displays that will teach you more about the area. A small kitchen scene with wood stove, pots, pans, and dress up clothes will let kids get an idea of domestic life in the early days. A large covered wagon is on display with some farming tools and other equipment explanations. They even have some live animals to observe. Watch the video that will give more information about the lake and surrounding landscape.

Arkansas State Parks have a great Junior Naturalist Program kids can participate in. In the visitors center ask about the scavenger hunt which counts as one of the activities for the program. It gets them more involved with not only nature, but history too. All of it is done in a fun way that will get your kids excited about learning.

Other Amenities at Lake Fort Smith State Park

Lake Fort Smith State Park has so much to offer. There is a pool right next door to the visitors center, a playground just down the road, a beautiful campground, and plenty of hiking trails. The scenery in the park is beautiful and it is such a relaxing place to camp or have a family outing.

Each camp site has a level tent pad, power, and water plus they are paved. They also have fire rings and picnic tables. Cabins are available to rent as well. The sites are close together, but there’s still plenty of room for the kids to run. The playground and picnic area is nice and offer wonderful views of the lake.

Hiking the Ozark Trail

From the campground you can access the western terminus of the Ozark Highlands trail. It spans 165 miles through the Ozarks. With kids you will probably not be hiking the entire 165 miles of this trail, but the first couple of miles are great for kids. Make sure you wear proper hiking shoes and we always bring our hydration packs to help us stay hydrated while hiking.

Not to far along the trail there is a small waterfall which has rocks to climb on. The kids will enjoy climbing to the top and looking down. A little further on are some old chimney remains from buildings that once stood here. If you look closely you can still see where the walls would have been.

Another fun thing to discover for the kids is the natural spring. It flows right out of the mountain and still has a brick basin built around the base. There are tons of trees, flowers (depending on the time of year, of course), birds, and other wildlife to be seen as well, don’t forget your camera. Our youngest spotted an armadillo scrounging through the brush, it was awesome!

If you are looking for a great place to camp or spend some time outdoors with the family Lake Fort Smith State Park is a perfect choice. There is so much to see and do here or just take some time to relax and enjoy nature. Either way it will be a memorable experience for your family. Tell us about your favorite state park or hiking trail in the comments we’d love to hear about it.

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13 thoughts on “Arkansas State Parks Are Great For Families”

  1. lake Fort Smith Park looks perfect for a family adventure in the great outdoors. The Ozark trail looks ideal for kids too. It is such a great way to bond with family in the lap of nature and outdoors. Makes for a sea change from visits to Malls and restaurants. Such a nice way to ensure the kids stay connected with nature and also learn as well as have fun in the process.

  2. This looks like such a great spot to go with kids. Lots of trails to explore and things to keep them interested. It is great that there are hands on displays for some learning for the kids. Everyone certainly looked like they were having a great time.

  3. This looks like a great state park for families and kids. I’m currently in Las Vegas and have been enjoying hiking in the Mojave desert. Lots of great hikes with easy ones for children. Despite the heat, there is nothing like getting out and enjoying the great outdoors.

  4. That is a good lot of fun activities for the families. The Ozark Trail sounds a little difficult though.
    Good they have provided the basic amenities like power and water.

    • They enjoyed learning from the exhibits. Unfortunately they were unable to become Junior Naturalists because you had to visit multiple state parks to finish the book and we were headed out of state. Good thing we loved spending time in Arkansas and would love to visit again.

  5. We haven’t spent near enough time in Arkansas—would love to head back and explore more of the nature the state has to offer. Lake Fort Smith State Park sounds like a fun place to camp. I’d love to spend a few days there hiking and checking out the waterfalls! Thanks for the recommendation—we will have to check it out next time we pass through!

  6. I’m continually impressed by the state parks in America! Some of them at least. Haha! One of my favorites is Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. It’s pretty incredible despite the morbid name. How fun it must have been to see an armadillo! I don’t know if we even have those out here in WA, but I’ve definitely never seen one.

    • We will have to check out Dead Horse Point State Park, I agree it sounds a bit morbid. Armadillo are so strange to see, but getting a good picture is so hard because they are shy. I don’t think they are up in WA, but if you look around in the forests you might see a Pine Marten which is also super hard to get pictures of.

  7. It’s great to read that Arkansas state parks are so good for families, I totally believe it’s best to get kids out and about while young so they develop the enduring love for our natural landscapes and wild places. Lovely to see photos of them enjoying.

  8. I think state parks are great and often under-appreciated! While I was traveling in an RV for 16 months I had the opportunity to visit many. This one looks like a keeper!


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