RV Resort latest development to open along Fort Smith’s riverfront

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 3,815 views 

(from left) Richard Griffin, Rick Griffin, Fort Smith Mayor George McGill, and Phil White

Riverfront RV Resort on Riverfront Drive is the newest attraction to open along the Arkansas River in Fort Smith. At the resort’s dedication Thursday (Nov. 16), Rick Griffin said the resort was a result of many years and studying, planning and dreaming.

When the 27-acre facility, owned by Griffin and Phil White, was originally pitched to the Fort Smith Central Business Improvement District (CBID) in 2021, it was estimated to cost about $2.5 million to develop. Griffin noted at the time that they already owned the land. In April 2022, a building permit for work on the park issued by the City of Fort Smith listed the cost of the park at $5 million.

Griffin said Thursday total investment in the resort was about $8 million.

“We hope to make money on it,” Griffin said during the dedication ceremony, “but we know it will be good for our town.”

He said studies have indicated the RV resort could generate about $2.2 million in economic impact on Fort Smith, especially downtown Fort Smith, per year. The resort, which has been open only one week and has not advertised its opening, has already had 30 campers, White said Thursday.

Located about a half mile from the recently opened U.S. Marshals Museum, the resort has a park-like setting and includes a manager on site who will have an apartment, office and retail space. It is located just south of 330 acres the city purchased from Kansas City Southern Railroad Company for soft surface trails. There are 100 RV campsites of varying sizes and 10 tent campsites. Space rental varies from $50 to $80 depending on size, Griffin said.

“This is a resort, not an RV park. A lot of people think of an RV park as a trailer park where people can set up their RVs and live. This isn’t that. There are no permanent spots. It’s a resort,” White has said of the property.

The resort also features a gated entry, which opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m., according to the sign at the gate, handicap-accessible bathrooms and showers, wi-fi service, an outdoor playground and exercise area, a swimming pool, dog park playground, coin laundry facility and a general store with convenience items. Other amenities include a horseshoe pit, pickleball courts, a porch-swing conversation area with a fire ring, and a large pavilion with a fireplace and grills.

Each of the tent camping spots has picnic tables, and the tent camping area will have 20 AMP, 110-volt receptacles along with easy access to fresh drinking water and a kitchen utensils wash-up area. The park features a private boat ramp with access to the Arkansas River and boat parking area, along with a boat dock and fish cleaning station. The resort has a daily trash pickup service.

Griffin said the resort has six employees, including an on-site manager.

“The area along the Arkansas River is changing before our eyes,” Fort Smith Mayor George McGill said at Thursday’s ceremony. “We are so thankful for our citizens developing ideas like this for us.”