By Sarah Haney | DiscoverNorthwestArkansas.com
Pea Ridge National Military Park is a United States National Military Park located in Northwest Arkansas in Benton County. The park protects the site of the Battle of Pea Ridge, fought March 7-8, 1862. The battle was a victory for
the Union, and helped it gain control of the crucial border state of Missouri. More than 23,000 soldiers fought at Pea Ridge to decide the fate of Missouri and the battle was a turning point of the war in the West. The 4,300-acre
battlefield honors those who fought and died on these grounds. Pea Ridge was the most pivotal Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River and is one of the most intact Civil War battlefields in the United States.
In 1956, the Arkansas congressional delegation proposed legislation to make Pea Ridge a national military park. This was a major breakthrough in American Civil War battlefield preservation. At that time, under the National Park Service classification system, only one acre should have been preserved, along with a monument. On July 20, 1956, Congress enacted legislation to accept a 5,000-acre donation from the state of Arkansas.
The park was dedicated as a national park during the nation’s Civil War Centennial in 1963. The park features a visitors center and museum, a driving tour, the restored battlefields, hiking trails, a portion of the pre-war Old Telegraph/Wire Road, approximately 2.5 miles of the Trail of Tears as followed by some members of the Cherokee Nation and the restored Elkhorn Tavern, which was the epicenter of much of the battle. The park grounds,
including the tour road and all trails, is open year round from 6 a.m. to dusk. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and for emergencies or severe weather. To plan your visit and for more information, call the park at (479) 451-8122, ext. 227