Presson-Oglesby Preserve

Open to the Public


Things To Do

Take a Walk on the Wild(flower) Side View All

Plan Your Visit

How to Prepare for Your Visit View All

Get Directions

Visitors to Presson-Oglesby Preserve can step back in time to experience the native Cherokee prairies that originally covered tens of thousands of acres within the Arkansas River Valley of west central Arkansas. Common prairie grasses, stunning wildflowers and grassland birds are highlights. 


Franklin County, near Charleston 


155 acres  

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

Presson-Oglesby Preserve is a high-quality tallgrass prairie. The tract is representative of the once extensive Cherokee prairies that originally covered tens of thousands of acres within the Arkansas River Valley of west central Arkansas. 

The preserve connects two other protected native prairies, Cherokee Prairie and H.E. Flanagan Prairie natural areas, owned by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission

Presson-Oglesby Preserve is named for the late Hazel Presson, an educator and author from Fort Smith whose series of generous donations enabled the Conservancy to acquire the site for permanent protection. 

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The site is managed for the tallgrass prairie habitat and animals that live there. Management activities include regular prescribed burns and removal of non-native species like Japanese honeysuckle.

Take a Walk on the Wild(flower) Side

More than 220 species of plants have been recorded at the preserve. In addition to common prairie grasses like cord grass, big bluestem, Indian grass, and side oats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), the site has many types of wildflowers with spectacular blooms throughout the growing season. Showy species include

  • swamp mallow
  • scurf pea
  • prairie blazing star
  • narrow-leaved sunflower
  • large coneflower
  • pale purple coneflower 

Download a species list

Look and Listen for Animals

The site shelters grassland birds that have declined over much of their range, like Henslow's sparrow and LeConte's sparrow. Butterflies are abundant on the prairie.

Presson-Oglesby Preserve is open to the public. There are no trails, but visitors are welcome to walk out onto the prairie (foot traffic only). The terrain is mostly flat and easily navigated. Viewing is also possible by vehicle from the county road. Sturdy walking shoes, insect repellant, sunscreen and sun hat are recommended.  


From Fort Smith take Highway 22 to Charleston and turn left (north) on Highway 217. Proceed 2.5 miles, then turn right (east) on Highway 60. Go approximately 0.7 mile and turn left (north) onto County Road 21. (Note: There is no sign for CR21; look for a large power pole on the left. CR 21 is an unpaved road.) Continue on CR21 about 0.7 mile down the hill and look for the red preserve sign on the right side of the road. (Another gravel road forms the southern border of the preserve.) Park along the road.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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