Welcome to Columbus Belmont State Park, where history and natural beauty collide. Sitting along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River in western Kentucky, this park offers a blend of recreational activities, scenic views, and a rich historical past.
Covering over 156 acres, Columbus Belmont State Park invites visitors to take a journey through time. Step back into the Civil War era as you explore the well-preserved earthworks, cannons, and other artifacts.
Beyond its historical significance, the park also boasts stunning landscapes, making it a haven for nature lovers. Take a leisurely hike along the park’s trails, and be rewarded with beautiful views of the Mississippi River.
Only an hour from our home, I surprisingly had never even heard of this Kentucky State Park. As soon as I did, I knew we had to check it out!
Historical significance of Columbus Belmont State Park
Columbus Belmont State Park holds great historical significance, particularly during the Civil War era. It is part of the Civil War Heritage Trail and a National Trail of Tears Site as well as having the title of a National Scenic Byway.
During the Civil War, the fort protected the Confederate supply line along the Mississippi River. It was strategically located on a bluff overlooking the river, making it an ideal defensive position. Many of the earthworks, buildings, and artillery were lost when the bluff eroded in the floods of the 1920s, but some were recovered as the flooding receded.
One of the recovered items includes a massive chain that General Polk had stretched across the Mississippi River from Columbus to Belmont to block the passage of Union ships.
Today, visitors can explore what remains of the fort, including well-preserved Confederate trenches and cannons. Walking around these historic structures, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and reverence for the soldiers who once fought here. Interpretive signage provides insights into the fort’s history and the significance of the battles that took place on this very soil.
In addition to the fort remains, the park also features a museum (which once served as a Civil War hospital) that showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the Civil War. Unfortunately, the museum wasn’t open when we visited, so we will have to come back!
Columbus, Kentucky also played a part in the Indian Removal Act when over one thousand Cherokee arrived in 1838 on what’s known as the Trail of Tears. They camped in the town of Columbus and waited ten days to be ferried across the Mississippi River. The bluff overlooking the river is now part of Columbus-Belmont State Park.
For history buffs, a visit to Columbus Belmont State Park is a must. It’s an opportunity to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of the events that shaped our nation.
Park amenities and facilities
Columbus Belmont State Park offers a range of amenities and facilities. The park has plenty of parking space, both for cars and RVs.
If you’re planning a family picnic or event, you’ll find plenty of picnic tables and shelters scattered throughout the park. Some are under pavilions, while others are gathered together in shaded areas.
There is also a nice playground area near some of the picnic areas, which my kids thoroughly enjoyed.
If you’re looking for a fun family activity, the park offers miniature golf from May through Labor Day as well as weekends in September.
The snack bar is also open May through Labor Day and offers food, snacks, and ice cream.
For those who enjoy fishing or boating, the park has a fishing dock and boat ramp, making it easy to cast a line and try your luck in the waters of the Mississippi River. Just be sure to check the local fishing regulations and get the necessary permits before you start.
For visitors with mobility challenges, the park offers accessible facilities, including wheelchair-friendly paths and ramps. There are also accessible restrooms and parking spaces available for convenience.
Hiking in Columbus Belmont State Park
The park offers an easy 2-mile trail winding through the Confederate trenches of the Civil War. This was my favorite part of the park, but note that no climbing on the earthworks is allowed! If you have kids like mine, they will probably be disappointed because they look like a lot of fun to play on!
I had to continuously remind them that the rule was there so other people could continue to enjoy seeing some of the history that’s been preserved!
It might be a good idea to download the trail on AllTrails because there are many side paths leading away and it’s not clearly marked. I’m directionally challenged (haha!) so I was grateful for my son’s guidance!
Leashed dogs are welcome at the park and on the trails.
Always remember, leave no trace – it’s important to preserve the natural beauty of the park for future generations to enjoy.
Events and special attractions at Columbus Belmont State Park
Columbus Belmont State Park is also a place to experience fun-filled events and special attractions. Throughout the year, the park hosts some cool events.
The most popular event is the annual “Civil War Days” each fall, where history comes alive. Visitors can witness reenactments of battles, explore living history camps, and learn about the everyday lives of soldiers during the Civil War. It’s a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the past.
Unfortunately, we realized the Civil War Days were going on the weekend after we visited, and we didn’t get a chance to come back so soon!
The park also sometimes hosts outdoor concerts during the summer months. Grab a picnic blanket or some lawn chairs and enjoy an evening of live music at “Music in the Park” events.
This year, on October 13th, they held a “Nightmarchers of Civil War” event, where they fired the cannons and then you were invited on a lantern-lit walk to the nearby cemetery – one of the oldest in Kentucky.
There are several other events throughout the year, including nature programs. Follow their Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.
Camping at Columbus Belmont State Park
For those who want to extend their stay and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area, Columbus Belmont State Park does offer camping facilities. The park has a campground with 38 sites, including utility and water hookups.
There is also one log cabin for rent, which sleeps 2, as well as a couple of rental camping trailers.
Campground amenities include restrooms, showers, and laundry. Leashed pets are welcome.
Attractions nearby Columbus Belmont State Park
Just a short drive from the state park is Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site. This archaeological site preserves the remains of a Native American village that thrived over a thousand years ago. Visitors can explore the mounds and learn about the Mississippian culture that once flourished here.
Wickliffe Mounds is open April through mid-November, Wednesdays through Sundays from 9am to 4:30pm. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)
Take a short visit to Fort Defiance State Park. Located in nearby Cairo, Illinois, “the point” offers views of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers – one of the largest confluences in the world, and is also the lowest point in Illinois.
A little over an hour away, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation encompasses over 170,000 acres of forests, lakes, and wetlands, offering endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. From hiking and biking to fishing and wildlife viewing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this natural playground.
In conclusion, Columbus Belmont State Park is a Kentucky gem that offers a blend of history and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring the park’s historical significance, immersing yourself in nature, or simply enjoying a peaceful retreat, this park has it all.
Columbus Belmont State Park Hours
April 1 – October 15: 8am to 8pm
Winter months: 8am to dark
Museum, Gift Shop, Miniature Golf, Snack Bar:
May through Labor Day, weekends in September, and by appointment only from October – April.
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