Parks and Recreation, Outdoor Attractions in Fort Smith

Region offers hiking trails, historic landmarks, outdoor stage performances and more.

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Fort Smith, AR

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If you can’t find a park in Fort Smith, you aren’t looking hard enough. The city has so many quality facilities that it separates its parks into five divisions: Community, Downtown, Neighborhood, Riverfront and Specialty Sites.

Parks Place

There are four public community parks in Fort Smith: Carol Ann Cross, Creekmore, Martin Luther King and Tilles. Residents also have access to three downtown venues – Cisterna, Ross Pendergraft, and Park at West End – and seven neighborhood parks - Harley A. Wilson, Hillcrest, Imani, Riley Farm, Spradling, Victory and Woodlawn. Riverfront facilities are Fort Smith Park, Harry E. Kelley Park and Riverfront Amphitheater, while specialty sites for staging large events include Anniversary Rose Garden, Kelley Park Ballfields, Massard Prairie Battlefield and McClure Amphitheater.

Hit the Trails

Walking, biking and rollerblading are pleasing activities along city trails such as Ben Geren, Chad Collee, Fort Chaffee West, Massard Road, Mill Creek, Rice Carden, Sunnymede and Water Trail. Also in the community is Fort Smith Bikeway, which connects riders to parks, libraries, schools, universities and bus stops. Several bike routes are clearly marked on neighborhood streets, and downloadable maps are available that detail good routes in the northwest, southwest, northeast and southeast sectors of Fort Smith.


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Gather Around

The city has several facilities that are ideal as meeting places and recreation destinations. They include Creekmore Community Center, Darby Community Center, Elm Grove Community Center, Riverfront Pavilion and the River Park Events Building.

Outdoor & Indoor Attractions

Fort Smith has many spots where the community can enjoy a good time. For architecture enthusiasts, Belle Grove Historic District is a 22-block area in downtown Fort Smith that features 25 restored homes of different architectural styles. Meanwhile, the Fort Smith National Historic Site includes the remains of the original 1817 fort on the Arkansas River, complete with the courtroom of famed “Hangin’ Judge” Isaac C. Parker along with a notorious frontier jail known as “Hell on the Border.” Also worth seeing is the former Miss Laura’s Social Club, a long-time Old West brothel that now houses the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau.


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Very Eventful

The city stages an annual Old Fort Days Futurity & Rodeo that showcases 10 days of Wild West activities, while a well-attended Hanging Judge Border Feud High School Rodeo is held every March or April at Kay Rodgers Park. The Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair in September is the largest bi-state fair in the United States, and a Fort Smith Airshow is sponsored by the 188th Fighter Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard. In addition, the city stages a Fort Smith Juneteenth Community Festival, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for ... more

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Fri, 07/19/2019 - 13:06