Parks enrich all of our lives. Franklin Roosevelt once called our national parks the outward symbol of the great human principle.
As our nation celebrates the 100th anniversary of our national parks, we want to remind you of the programs and historical significance of the seven national parks located right here in Arkansas. National parks in our state bring in over 3 million visitors a year. The economic impact is estimated to be over $174 million.
In Gillett, you'll find the Arkansas Post. In 1686, Henri de Tonti established a trading post known as "Poste de Arkansea". It was the first semi-permanent French settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley. The establishment of the Post was the first step in a long struggle between France, Spain, and England for dominance of the Mississippi River Valley. Today you can immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of over two miles of trails winding through the historic town site and hardwood forest.
In Northern Arkansas you will find one of the few remaining undammed rivers in the country. The Buffalo National River was established as a National Park in 1972. Once you arrive, prepare to journey from running rapids to quiet pools while surrounded by massive bluffs as you cruise through the Ozark Mountains down to the White River.
Water is what first attracted people to Hot Springs. And for decades now people have been visiting what is nicknamed "American Spa" to use the thermal waters. The Hot Springs National Park surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs.
On the west side of our state, discover the site where Judge Isaac C. Parker presided his final days over Indian Territory. The Fort Smith National Historic Site preserves almost 80 years of history through stories of soldiers and outlaws of the West.
Another National Park in our state is the Pea Ridge battlefield. Here 26,000 soldiers fought to in 1862 to decide the fate of Missouri and the West.
The birthplace of President Clinton in Hope, Arkansas is now a National Park as is the Little Rock Central High School where the persistence of nine African-American students set a national example of the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education.
This summer, take time to explore our national and our 52 state parks. Chances are you will learn something new about your own backyard.