Contributed by Joy Cressler
Western Arkansas is the home to some of the most breathtaking parks and lakes in the state. Here are three that are within a short drive of Fort Smith:
Lake Fort Smith State Park
Situated in the Boston Mountain Range of the Ozark Mountains, Lake Fort Smith state park offers camping, fishing, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, hiking and nature study. The park also serves as the western terminus of the 165-mile Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail.
Lake Fort Smith Park is located on the western side of 1,400-acre Lake Fort Smith and features many facilities, including campsites, a group lodge with kitchenette that can accommodate up to 32 people, picnic sites, a pavilion, large swimming pool with adjacent wading pool and splash pad, marina with boat rentals, double lane boat launch ramp, hiking trails, playground, and an visitor center with exhibits.
For more information, check out Lake Fort Smith online.
Mount Magazine State Park
Mount Magazine is Arkansas’ highest mountain. The plateau is a remnant of an ancient sea floor and stretches six miles long and nearly a mile across. Though now blessed by Ozark National Forest lands and a state park, Mount Magazine earlier served as home to the settlers who came here in the 1800s to farm. Later, cabins and lodges were built atop the mountain to attract and accommodate the travelers who journeyed to the mountain for recreation, relaxation, and escape from the heat in the lowlands below that the summit’s cooler temperatures afforded.
The park features picnicking, birding, backpacking, rappelling, hang gliding, biking, mountain biking and ATV trail adventure.
Visit Mount Magazine online to learn more.
Mount Nebo State Park
Mount Nebo overlooks the beautiful Arkansas River Valley. Down in the state park, native stone and logs were used to construct many of the park’s bridges, trails, rustic-style cabins and pavilions.
The park offers 34 campsites and 14 fully-equipped cabins with kitchens. Fourteen miles of trails thread their way around Mount Nebo, offering mountain biking enthusiasts the Bench Trail, a nearly 5-mile long mostly level route encircling the side of 1,850-foot Mount Nebo.
Visitors can take in the mixed hardwood and pine forest as they’re passing the historic springs and Fern Lake. Primitive campsites are available at intervals along Bench Trail, and in the park campground.
Park facilities include a pool, tennis courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, extra-large enclosed and standard open pavilions, and a ball field. The visitor center offers exhibits and a store.
To learn more, visit Mount Nebo online.