Arkansas River Valley Nature Center

The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center sits on 170 acres of land in Fort Smith that were previously part of Fort Chaffee. The building overlooks Wells Lake, a popular local fishing and picnicking destination!

Built in the fertile Arkansas River Valley, the center focuses on the wide variety of animals and birds that call the area home. In addition to resident Canada geese and small mammals and turtles calling the center home, many colorful songbirds stop by on their journeys to and from wintering grounds farther south. While many visitors come to the center for the interesting exhibits inside, just as many find the trails, native plants on the grounds and canoeing or fishing in the lake just as enjoyable. Education center includes exhibits of live native snakes, turtles, fish, and more.  Discovery Room provides many hands-on experiences for all ages.

Critter Crunch: 2 PM Daily

Canoes/Kayaks: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM on Saturdays
Weather and staff dependent.
Not available November & December

Staff members will assist boaters on Wells Lake. A parent or guardian must accompany children. Participants are required to wear life jackets, which will be provided. Due to weather and staff availability, call ahead to confirm the programs.

Archery: 2:30 PM on Saturdays

A beginner's guide to archery. We provide bows, arrows, safety tips, and instructions. For all ages.



Distance from Convention Center:

7.2 mi.

Tuesday-Saturday: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM


Follow Us:

Handicap Accessible
Free Admission
Group Tours
Gift Store
Free Parking
Meeting Venue
  • Number of Meeting Rooms:
  • Capacity of Largest Meeting Room:

Free parking is available at the location. Main parking enter at large sign.  Building is located past the flag pole. Additional access and parking is on the north side of Wells Lake.

If you are on the grounds after building operational hours the gates close around dusk.  They will open as you slowly approach to exit.{{Referrer}}&ut2={{Page Path}}&ut3={{Page URL}}