Visitors still welcome to walk, bike, drive into history

Visitors still welcome to walk, bike, drive into history

Nestled in the hills and hollows of the Ozarks, the Pea Ridge National Military Park preserves nearly 4,300 acres of the rural Ozarks on which the March 7-8, 1862, Battle of Pea Ridge helped save Missouri for the Union.

There were farms on the hilly Arkansas land across which the Telegraph Road traversed. Near the intersection with the Huntsville Road, Elkhorn Tavern offered shelter to travelers.

Then, the soldiers came — more than 10,000 Union soldiers and 16,000 Confederate soldiers. Two days of fighting across the corn fields and through the woods left more than 1,384 Union casualties and 2,000 Confederate casualties including killed, wounded and missing. The tavern became a makeshift hospital while the family huddled in the basement below.

After the battle, families began to return to their homes and the land was again farmed. In 1956, the park was created by an Act of Congress. Many of the homes on the park were moved, and several are still standing in the nearby city of Pea Ridge.

Elkhorn Tavern was believed to have been built about 1833 by William Ruddick. By 1861, the inhabitants of the tavern were Joseph and Lucinda Cox. The building was burned in 1863, then rebuilt on the original foundation in 1865.

The park offers self-guided tours by cell phone. Visitors are encouraged to allow a minimum of 30 minutes for the tour.

“It’s spring time, and we’ve got the tour road with multiple stops as well as several miles of hiking trails,” says Kevin Eads, park superintendent. “Every time I go through the park, there’s something different to see.

“I love this area — the forests, the fields, the amount of wildlife you see. It’s unbelievable in Northwest Arkansas,” Eads says.

Through the park’s website, visitors can read letters and diaries of soldiers, take an online tour of the battlefield and learn more about the units that fought in the battle that preserved Missouri for the Union.

One young soldier, Henry Dysart, 3rd Iowa, wrote: “Friday Feb. 28, 1862 This time last year I had no thought that I should ever pass a night under such circumstances, so far from home as last and every night now is spent. A nights rest here is just as sweet as then at home. After marching all day over Arkansas mountains and rocks it is pleasant to spend an Arkansas night in an Arkansas thicket as last night was spent with an Arkansas rock for a pillow and an Arkansas sky for a covering. Sugar Creek. Ark.”

Nearly 23,000 soldiers fought on March 7-8, 1862, in a battle declared to be the largest west of the Mississippi River.

There are 10 stops on the seven-mile tour road where visitors can learn more information through wayside panels and a cell phone tour. The tour is completely self guided and is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to sunset. Visitors can also bike or walk the tour road.


Annette Beard



Go See It!

Where it is possible to adhere to the latest health guidelines, the park grounds, tour road and all trails will remain open to visitors from 6 a.m. to sunset seven days a week with no fee.

The cell phone tour can be found at

As of March 18, the visitor center will be closed until further notice.

Go Online!

Visitors may also go to the park website at for park updates and history.

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