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.