Nestled in a scenic valley of the Boston Mountain Range of the Ozark Mountains, this state park is on the western side of 1,400-acre Lake Fort Smith. Here you can enjoy outdoor adventures including camping, fishing, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, hiking, and nature study. For backpackers, the park serves as the western terminus of the 165-mile Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail.
The park features campsites [20 Class AAA and 10 Class B], group facilities including a dining hall and two group lodges with kitchenettes that can accommodate up to 32 persons (16 in each wing) each, 10 cabins, picnic sites, a pavilion, 2,660-square-foot swimming pool with adjacent wading pool and a splash pad, marina with boat rentals, double lane boat launch ramp, hiking trails, and a playground. The park's 8,000-square-foot visitor center includes exhibits, a meeting/classroom, and an outdoor patio featuring a native stone, wood-burning fireplace and a lake view. The exhibit gallery tells the stories of how, through time, good water made this valley a place of hope, faith and sacrifice. The gallery includes a log cabin, covered wagon, re-created Shepherd Spring, and a diorama of the lake. Many exhibits are hands-on, and some contain live education animals. Families with children will enjoy spending time here discovering the natural and cultural history of the area. A theater features a 16-minute video that further tells the park's story and will connect you to the water resources of this valley.
Interpretive programs are offered in the park throughout the year by the park staff. These activities include cruises and kayak tours on the lake, hikes, outdoor workshops, and more.
From its original location, Lake Fort Smith State Park was relocated to this site on the lake's western side due to the enlarging of Lake Fort Smith and Lake Shepherd Springs into a single reservoir to provide additional water storage for the future needs of the municipal water supply serving Fort Smith, Arkansas. The park opened at this new site in May 2008. The design of the park's facilities evokes the architectural style of the WPA facilities constructed in the 1930s that were featured in the original park.
For park details or to book campsite, cabin or group overnight reservations online, visit ArkansasStateParks.com/LakeFortSmith. Campsite reservations can also be made by calling the park at: 479-369-2469. Lake Fort Smith State Park cabin and group facilities' reservations can be made by calling toll-free: 888-695-3526.
The park is eight miles north of Mountainburg on U.S. 71, or take Exit #29 off I-49 at Mountainburg and go east on Ark. 282 for 1.8 mile to U.S. 71, then travel north on U.S. 71 for 7.5 miles to Shepherd Springs Road, then turn east on Shepherd Springs Road and go two miles to the park. [Alternate: Take I-49 Exit #34 at Chester and go east on Ark. 282 to U.S. 71 North.]