New cabins open at Lake Fort Smith State Park

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This $2,146,536 Project Was Funded by Amendment 75, Arkansas’s Conservation Tax

(MOUNTAINBURG, Ark.)—Construction of 10 cabins at Lake Fort Smith State Park is complete and the cabins are now available to rent, according to State Parks Director Greg Butts. Funded by Amendment 75, Arkansas’s 1/8-cent conservation tax, these one-story cabins include both one-bedroom and two-bedroom designs reminiscent of the 1930s WPA style. Five of the cabins feature one bedroom and one bathroom each, and the other five each offer two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Each cabin includes a great room with wood-burning fireplace, high definition satellite TV, kitchen, and dining area. At the back of each cabin is a large, elevated covered deck with a woods view. On the ground level below are a picnic table and grill.

To meet the needs of visitors with disabilities, two cabins—a one-bedroom cabin and a two-bedroom cabin—are barrier-free designs. Tubs are not offered in these two barrier-free cabins. Instead, the bathroom in the one-bedroom barrier-free cabin features a roll-in shower. The two-bedroom barrier-free cabin features a roll-in shower in one bathroom and a walk-in shower in the other.

In the four other one-bedroom cabins (those that not barrier-free), the bathrooms feature spa tubs. In the other two-bedroom cabins (those that are not barrier-free), one bathroom features a spa tub and the other bathroom has a walk-in shower.

Cabin #2, one of the one-bedroom designs, is the park’s designated “dog-friendly” cabin. Service animals, however, are welcome in all Arkansas State Parks facilities.

The architect/design consultant was Tim A. Risley & Associates of Fort Smith. The contractor was Steele Development of Bentonville. Funded by Amendment 75, the project totaled $2,146,536, which also included road and parking area paving and utility work.

A one-bedroom cabin (896 square feet) rents for $127/two adults/day. A two-bedroom cabin (1,152 square feet) is $142/four adults/day. The charge for each additional person is $12/day. Children age 12 and under stay free. Book reservations online at http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/lakefortsmith, or call the park at 888-695-3526, Lake Fort Smith’s toll-free number for cabin reservations.

Lake Fort Smith State Park is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. A partnership between the City of Fort Smith and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT), the park reopened in May 2008 at its new site on the western side of Lake Fort Smith. The park closed in January 2002 to be relocated from its original site due to the enlarging of Lake Fort Smith and Lake Shepherd Springs into a single reservoir to meet the future municipal water needs of the Fort Smith area. The City owns the 258-acre park and leases it to the ADPT. The City directed $12 million towards the new park, and the ADPT funded another $10 million from Amendment 75.

Greg Butts said, “The park is a first-class recreational destination. And, these cabins will provide quality overnight accommodations for park guests.” He noted that the State Parks Division made a promise to replace historic facilities that graced the original park, facilities that were constructed by the Works Progress Administration, later renamed the Works Projects Administration (WPA). “With the opening of these 10 new cabins, we have now replaced all the facilities that park visitors enjoyed through the decades,” he said, “and this recreational legacy will carry forward.” Butts continued, “All of Lake Fort Smith State Park’s new facilities were designed to be reminiscent of the WPA style of the original park. The cabins are crafted of stone and wood and use some of the reclaimed stone from the original park site.” The new cabins are nestled in a wooded area for seclusion and to maintain privacy.

According to Park Superintendent Ron Gossage, “When we closed the original park, so many people told us how much they were going to miss the cabins.” He continued, “What made those cabins so special to them was not only the historical significance of the WPA workmanship, but the memories that were made at each one.” Gossage noted that no matter if it was because a father had worked for the WPA when the cabins were being built, a young couple spent their honeymoon there, or a family gathering had happened there, each cabin was a setting where experiences created lifelong memories. “With the 10 new cabins, we’ve brought back the look and feel of the WPA style while increasing their size and the amenities they offer,” he said.

“We have created new places for new experiences, and we now have new cabins that will be passed from generation to generation.”

In addition to the cabins, the park includes 30 campsites, group facilities including a dining hall and two group lodges with kitchenettes, picnic sites, a pavilion, swimming pool, marina with boat rentals, boat launch ramp, trails, playground, and a visitor center with exhibits and a meeting/classroom. Park interpreters offer programs including guided hikes, party barge and kayak tours of the lake, and historical overviews of this Boston Mountain valley. For backpackers, the park is the western terminus of the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail.

The park is eight miles north of Mountainburg on U.S. 71; or take Exit 29 off I-540 at Mountainburg.

For more information about the park, contact: Ron Gossage, park superintendent, Lake Fort Smith State Park, P.O. Box 4, Mountainburg, AR 72946. Phone: 479-369-2469. E-mail: ron.gossage@arkansas.gov. Or, visit the Arkansas State Parks website at: ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeFortSmith.