Filed under: Family Day Trips, Historic Places & Landmarks, Kid-Friendly Trips, Nature & Wildlife, State & National Parks
Arkansas Post National Monument, AR…
This year, in our annual winter trek across the southern states, we decided to take a new route between Texas and Florida. For this stretch, we usually take I-10 along the Gulf, but we decided that this year we needed some new stops – to see a few new destinations that we had not had a chance to visit before. So, we ventured a bit more north, into Arkansas, and stopped at a few fun, new-to-us places!
One of the stops we did in Arkansas, was to visit the Arkansas Post National Monument. This park has some serious history going on! It played a key role in the exploration and settlement of the surrounding area, has been a military and fur trading fort, saw Civil War combat, and is the location of the remains of a 19th century town. The site is currently preserved as a National Park, and is a beautiful one at that!
We arrived around lunch time last Friday, and after grabbing some lunch in the parking lot (I LOVE traveling with my home!), we toured the visitor’s center where the kids picked up Jr. Ranger booklets. We spent some time in the v.c. as it has a small but nice museum with an interesting 12 min film about the history of the area. The staff were all exceptionally friendly and helpful – they patiently answered all our questions about Arkansas (it’s our first time!). The museum contained information and exhibits on the history of the area, including the Indians that lived there, the coming of explorers and influx of settlers, the building of the fort and it’s downfall, and the rise and fall of the neighboring town among other interesting tidbits. Arkansas Post was even named the capital of the Arkansas Territory for a time!
We learned about the native animals that were trapped here, and were able to ‘handle’ some of them on the museum’s fur/pelt touch-table. We found out about the first paddle-boat, the ‘Comet’ to come up the river, and we also learned about the area’s roles in previous wars. We found The Battle of Arkansas Post to be quite interesting – we had never heard of it before visiting the park. In fact, we happened to visit the park on the Sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of The Battle of Arkansas Post; a very-bloody, one day battle, between Union and Confederate troops.
Usually, a park will have a pretty major event going on when commemorating a 150th anniversary, but last weekend was pretty quiet at the park – they had to put off the 150th anniversary festivities until this coming weekend; last weekend (the actual anniversary) was also the date of the annual Gillett ‘Coon Feed, a long-standing fundraising tradition in Arkansas. The rangers said that the Post could not compete with the Coon Feed! LOL!
We found the Arkansas Post National Memorial to be a beautiful park! They have a short scenic drive down to the bayou, there is a short walking path that leads to the Civil War Rifle Pits, accessed from either a nearby parking lot or a little bit of a longer walk leading to and from the visitor’s center. There is also a very short hike to the remains of the 19th century Arkansas Post town site. We spent so much time at the bayou and the rifle pits that we didn’t make it to the townsite, so I can’t tell you what it’s like.
We really hope to be able to visit this park again, especially since we didn’t get to see any alligators! If you get a chance to visit Arkansas Post, I would highly recommend it – for such a little known park, it sure is a beauty!