Fort Smith National Historic Site’s visitor center/museum to re-open

The Fort Smith National Historic Site has announced the visitor center/museum will re-open to the public on a reduced occupancy basis beginning Nov. 1. 

FORT SMITH, Ark. – The Fort Smith National Historic Site has announced the visitor center/museum will re-open to the public on a reduced occupancy basis beginning Nov. 1. 

To achieve proper social distancing throughout the building, the limited number of visitors inside the building has been set at no more than 35 at one time. Hours of operation will be daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The park grounds and trails will remain open from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Initially closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the visitor center/museum suffered water damage due to a frozen sprinkler head caused by the extreme cold temperatures during the polar vortex in February. Demolition of the affected areas was quickly addressed and the repair process is now complete.

“We want to thank everyone for their patience, and we are very excited to open our doors again to the public”, said Park Superintendent Lisa Conard Frost, a Cherokee Nation citizen. “Visitors to the site will once again be able experience Fort Smith’s nationally significant history within our historic building, through exhibits and interpretive media.”

At the site is a trail that takes visitors to Belle Point on the Arkansas River where people from the Five Tribes crossed the river to reach Indian Territory during the Trail of Tears. The museum also includes information about the Five Tribes and their settlements in eastern Oklahoma. 

Current Centers for Disease Control and public health guidance is in effect at the site. To promote staff and visitor’s safety, masks are required in all NPS building and on all forms of enclosed public transportation, regardless of location or vaccination status. Additionally, masks must be work in outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as narrow or busy trails and overlooks.

The Fort Smith National Historic Site is at 301 Parker Ave. in Fort Smith. For information, call 479-783-3961.