12 Parks in Fort Smith, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Fort Smith, Arkansas is a city with a population of around 87,000 people located along the Arkansas River. It has a rich history as a frontier military post and as a major crossing point on the trail west. Today, Fort Smith offers numerous family-friendly parks and outdoor recreational spaces where residents and visitors alike can enjoy the natural scenery and amenities.

This article will highlight 12 of the top parks in Fort Smith and provide details on the features, facilities, and attractions that each one offers.

Creekmore Park

Creekmore Park is one of Fort Smith’s most popular and iconic parks. Spanning about 95 acres along the Arkansas River, the park provides miles of trails for walking, running, and cycling as well as numerous recreational and event facilities. The park hosts one of the city’s top rose gardens with over 2,500 rose bushes of more than 250 varieties on display.

It also includes the City Veteran’s Pavilion, a baseball/softball complex, the Creekmore Park Amphitheater which hosts the popular summer concert series, as well as a playground, volleyball courts, basketball courts, and a skate plaza. With so much to see and do, Creekmore Park is a beloved destination for residents and tourists alike.

Parrot Island Waterpark

Cool off at Parrot Island Waterpark, Fort Smith’s top water park and aquatic center. This 60,000 square foot outdoor park includes a wave pool, more than 160 feet of winding water slides, a lazy river float ride, junior Olympic swimming pool, sand volleyball courts, and a treehouse play area for the kids.

Families will love splashing around the “Treasure Falls” interactive water playground which features a pirate ship, waterfall, and smaller slides for little adventurers. Parrot Island also has a concession area, chair lift rides, party zone, and new FlowRider surf simulator attraction. With both thrill rides for daredevils and shallow pools for youngsters, Parrot Island Waterpark promises a full day of soaking up all the aquatic fun the family can handle!

Riverfront Skate & Bike Park

Get rolling at Riverfront Skate & Bike Park, Fort Smith’s free public skating park located along the Arkansas River. The 24,000 square foot concrete park includes curved walls, rails, manual pads, and transition style quarter pipes and half pipes for all levels of skaters, bikers, and rollerbladers.

Daredevils can catch big air in “The Volcano” 9 foot deep bowl or watch experienced riders test gravity-defying tricks on the 12 foot tall vert ramp. With amazing river views and plenty of shade structures lining the park, spectators are welcome to kick back and cheer on their favorite skaters. Bring along a board, a bike, or put on your protective gear to enjoy one of Fort Smith’s most exciting sports parks!

Chaffee Crossing Historic District Park


Explore Fort Smith heritage at the Chaffee Crossing Historic District Park. This 52 acre park was once the home of Fort Chaffee, established as a United States Army base during World War II. Today, historic buildings have been preserved to showcase this national landmark site while new amenities welcome outdoor recreation.

The park has miles of walking/biking trails, picnic pavilions, playgrounds, and sports fields as well as historic buildings converted into breweries, restaurants, and retail shops. Guests can tour the Barracks Museum to see military artifacts and history exhibits or pick up a brochure for a self-guided walking tour of the buildings and sites from the historic base era. The Chaffee Barbershop Museum also offers a glimpse into military life with collections of barbershop tools, equipment, and American nostalgia displays.

Greg Smith River Trail Head Park

Greg Smith River Trail Head Park is an ideal starting point to access the scenic Arkansas River Trail winding for miles through Fort Smith along the river corridor. As the western terminus point of the trail, the park offers parking, maps, and through trail information as well as restrooms, drinking fountains, picnic tables, and shade shelters for taking a break.

Visitors will find connecting trails to explore the Frolic Flats nature area where they may spot deer, birds, butterflies and wildflowers during a quiet riverside walk. Interpretive signs describe the historic flooding of the river and importance of shore stabilization and urban green space conservation. Trail enthusiasts use the park as basecamp to access bike trails leading all the way to Barling or for beginning a long-distance walk, run or ride along the beautiful Arkansas River.

Martin Luther King Park

Martin Luther King Park serves the Fort Smith community as a popular park as well as event and recreation venue. The 39 acre park surrounds the former Howard Elementary School which now houses a community center, senior activity center and head start education program. Residents enjoy walking the 1 mile looped fitness trail encircling the park or using the playground, picnic pavilions, basketball courts and ball fields.

The center gym hosts clubs for activities like pickleball, chess, dance and martial arts while classrooms provide space for meetings and instructional classes. During major community celebrations like Juneteenth, Martin Luther King Jr. Day events and the charitable Thanksgiving “Blessings Feast,” the park and school campus provide an inclusive gathering place and facilities to host games, entertainment stages and food distribution efforts bringing Fort Smith neighbors together.

May Branch Park & Skatepark

May Branch Park is most popular for housing Fort Smith’s premier public skatepark facility as well as adjoining baseball/softball fields, playground, picnic pavilions and walking track encircling the park.

The 20,000 square foot, lighted skate plaza features two bowls up to 8 feet deep carved out of an existing hillside with connecting snake runs, street course obstacles, hubba ledges, manual pads, stair set and rail slides.

Designed by Newline Skateparks, the concrete park challenges all levels and styles of skateboarders and BMX riders with both transition and street terrain elements clustered around an exposed sandstone wall defining the landscape. Spectators are welcome in the adjacent seating and shade areas and younger children can try out moves on smaller “skate spot” features separated across the park.

Cisterna Park

For a unique urban park experience, visit historic Cisterna Park seemingly hidden on towers hill above downtown Fort Smith. This 1 acre greenspace surrounds a 95,000 gallon underground cistern built in the late 1800’s beneath the former Sparks Memorial Hospital site to collect rainwater.

Visitors entering the gated stone and brick structure descent down a winding walkway surrounded with Italianate style arches and carved limestone and sandstone blocks. Inside the vast echoing chamber, lighting illuminates the arched brick ceilings and exposed bedrock 25 feet underground. Interpretive signs share details about how the engineering feat provided the hospital a reliable water source even during drought or wartime siege.

Benches allow for introspective moments while colorful murals and small waterfall installations add sensory interest. Sculptures, coins and small trinkets left on the damp stone surfaces hint at local traditions of making wishes, memories or marking symbolic fresh starts. Emerging back out into the park, the leafy canopy of surrounding trees frames views of historic North 10th street homes adding to the sense of being suddenly transported through space and time by this unique underground structure.

Hunts Park & Disc Golf Course

Outdoor enthusiasts head to Hunts Park to play the 18 hole disc golf course winding through the woods around Lake Fort Smith. The beginner friendly layout takes players along ADA accessible pathways over streams, past meadows and through scenic glades using a variety of throws to land discs in elevated baskets along each fairway.

Players averaging 30 to 40 throws each round using discs similar to Frisbees while navigating natural terrain obstacles like trees, bushes and elevation changes. The courses record 86 Par challenges golfers of all abilities in both distance and accuracy while enjoying nature. Other park amenities include playgrounds, pavilions, walking trails, accessibility fishing and boat ramp access to Lake Shepherd Springs. Visitors can extend recreation time by bringing along picnics, sports equipment or their own canoe or kayak to make a full day enjoying the facilities and pastoral lake views.

Fort Smith Park

Explore frontier military history at Fort Smith National Historic Site looking over the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith. Though only a fraction of the former western border fort remains, preserved buildings and exhibits provide a glimpse into life during the 1800s when Fort Smith acted as an important supply depot and marshaling point for those heading west. Guests can tour restored structures like the 1838 Barracks once housing soldiers, the 1848 Commissary Storehouse and 1841 Courthouse telling stories of legal proceedings like the famous Judge Parker court known for delivering justice to criminals in the “Wild West”.

Living history demonstrations showcase blacksmithing, carpentry and other frontier crafts and trades adding to the sights, sounds and imagination of life on a bustling 1800’s fort settlement. The park also provides information on regional points of interest for visitors keen to further explore the stories of marshals, outlaws and war heroes who lived or traveled through this critical gateway point opening the western United States.

Creekmore Park Gardens

Creekmore Park encompasses numerous specialty gardens showcasing Fort Smith’s beloved rose garden as well as demonstration gardens and natural spaces. The 2.5 acre Pauline Whitaker Memorial Rose Garden blooms from April through October with over 2,500 bushes sustaining 250 varieties of hybrid tea, floribunda, shrub and climbing roses. Bloom season peaks in May and June when the manicured beds produce lush galleries worth strolling to appreciate unique colors and aromatic varieties.

Nearby demonstration gardens exhibit shade, butterfly, wildflower and even blue star memorial plantings needing little watering once established. Nature trails wind around wetlands and through wooded areas where wildlife sightings might reward a quiet walk. Botanical interest, seasonal beauty and meandering pathways give Creekmore Park Gardens merit as one of Fort Smith’s treasured oasis for gentle reflection.

Alexander Park & Skate Spot

Alexander Park packs plenty of recreation opportunities into a small neighborhood park in central Fort Smith. Family amenities include a large playground, walking trail, picnic pavilion, grill stations and restrooms. Sports facilities offer 2 lighted tennis courts, basketball court, backstop and soccer field space. But the park’s popular skate spot draws crowds to its assortment of grind rails, ramps, stairs, ledges and smooth-riding surfaces.

The fenced course gives new skaters plenty of features to practice basics before trying more advanced tricks. Surrounding benches and hillside viewing gives spectators a chance to cheer on their favorite local athletes attempting daring new feats on boards or bikes. Whether playing team sports, enjoying a family cookout or providing an inclusive space for youth recreation, this compact but well-designed park invites the whole community to come share the fun.

Conclusion

Fort Smith has no shortage of beautiful green spaces, recreational parks and preserved historic sites welcoming visitors to play, relax and learn about the region’s rich culture. The 12 parks profiled in this article highlight some of the top destinations to appreciate Fort Smith’s scenic river valley setting while accessing facilities to enjoy favorite sports or activities with family and friends.

From waterparks and skateparks to gardens, trails and military history, the natural areas, amenities and attractions featured across the city’s parks offer appealing options for residents and tourists alike. Stop by Creekmore Park for a concert, take a swing at the Hunts Park disc golf course or admire heritage buildings at Chaffee Crossing to see first-hand why Fort Smith’s parks system has something to offer for all interests any time of year.

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