Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve

Explore Fort Ancient Earthworks, North America’s largest ancient hilltop enclosure earthwork.

Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve

6123 State Route 350, Oregonia, OH, USA
Museum and grounds:
Wednesday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday Noon-5pm

Final admission should be paid by 4:00 p.m.  Gift shop closes at 4:30 p.m.  Site closes promptly at 5:00 p.m.
Guided tours at 2:00 p.m. daily (whenever museum is open).
Museum and grounds may close during inclement weather.

Adult - $7.00 Senior - $6.00 Child (6-17) - $6.00 OHC member - $0.00 Children under 6 - $0.00 Grounds only - $8.00 per vehicle
Fort Ancient Museum

Fort Ancient Museum

2024 Hours: 

Museum and grounds:

Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sunday Noon – 5 p.m.

Final admission should be paid by 4:00 p.m. 

Gift shop closes at 4:30 p.m. 

Site closes promptly at 5:00 p.m.

If you are interested in supporting Fort Ancient, you may donate by texting SAVEHISTORY to 44-321.

Visit

Built around 2,000 years ago by the Ancestors of many modern American Indian tribes, Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve is Ohio’s oldest state park and the largest hilltop enclosure in North America. While the name suggests that this site was used as some kind of defensive structure, evidence shows it was actually a gathering place used for ceremonial purposes.

Experience an on-site museum and gift shop (members receive a 10% discount), recreated American Indian garden and three miles of hiking trails with scenic overlooks.

Dogs are welcome on all the sites. Please keep your furry companions leashed and remove messes that they may create on the grounds.

Enjoy the earthworks but please do not climb on the walls. We would like to keep these walls standing tall for 2,000 years after you visit them. Foot traffic will cause damage over time.

Average visit time: Allow 2+ hours.

a bench sits in front of a cliff overlooking the Little Miami River valley, trees with brightly colored fall leaves frame the view.

The north overlook in fall colors

What you’ll see:

Built on a steep bluff overlooking the Little Miami River, Fort Ancient is a nature-lover’s paradise with miles of trails, earthen embankments, and hidden astronomical connections. Some of the embankments reach 23 feet high, which is incredible considering they were built one basket of earth at a time. More than 67 gateways break up these embankments, inviting people to wander in and connect with their community.

One of the special areas at Fort Ancient is Morehead Circle, which is located near the museum. There is evidence that a woodhenge, or circular arrangement of wooden posts once existed there and that sacred ceremonies happened in this area.

Archaeology & Artifacts

Items made of materials sourced from areas as far away as the Rocky Mountains help paint a picture of the importance of Fort Ancient as a gathering place. Once thought of as evidence of trade is now thought to be evidence of pilgrimage—that people from all over the continent brought items from home as an offering in the ceremonies they attended here. Most of the artifacts recovered from Fort Ancient are in curated collections at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus. These include bone implements, stone tools, pottery fragments, and pieces of flint and mica.

The Museum at Fort Ancient offers 9,000 sq ft of exhibitions, which are free for Ohio History Connection members, and included with regular admission. The Museum is fully accessible and includes a classroom with information about today’s American Indian Tribes, which connects to the seasonal garden that showcases crops that were cultivated during the Hopewell and Fort Ancient cultures.

Stone covered mound

One of the four limestone capped “calendar” mounds.

Human Genius

At Fort Ancient, the builders literally carved the rhythm of time into the land. Two of the distinctive limestone-capped mounds align to the summer solstice sunrise, and two align to the winter solstice sunrise. These days must have held deep importance for the site’s builders. There is also evidence that the builders understood the 18.6 year lunar cycle. The people of the Hopewell era and their ancestors knew themselves to be part of nature, rather than separate from it. Using the precise location of these mounds, nature functions also as a calendar.

The use of drones is prohibited at all Ohio History Connection sites. To inquire about commercial filming permits, contact Neil Thompson, manager of media and public relations, at [email protected]

 

World Heritage

Fort Ancient is now inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list! The site is one of eight Ohio sites in a serial nomination of Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks. In addition to Fort Ancient, the sites are Newark Earthworks and the five sites that make up Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe. To learn more, visit Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks.

Field Trips

To schedule a field trip or group tour, please fill out this word doc for school groups or this word doc for non-school groups and email it to our Education Coordinator Pam Hall at [email protected]. We ask that you try to plan at least 2 hours for field trips. The experience will include a guided tour and activities.  All activities are tailored to align with 4th grade Ohio Social Studies standards. However, tours and activities can be adapted to accommodate most grade levels between elementary and high school. The admission fee (including guided activities) will be $5 per student in attendance for groups more than 20. Admission is free for teachers. Groups smaller than 20 cost regular admission per person. Picnic facilities are available for sack lunches and snacks.

 

Tour Group

Tour group in the museum

Tours

There will be a guided tour offered on the third Friday of every month, with Archaeologist and Site Manager Bill Kennedy in the Museum. There is no reregistration or sign up required.

Regular guided tours of the museum are offered at 2:00 pm everyday as requested by visitors. Tours will include a 30 min walk through of the museum and if interested (and weather permitting) an outdoor walk. Tour admission is free for all Ohio History Connection Members and is general admission for all non-members. Visitors that are planning on attending the tours are asked to stop at the front desk of the museum to purchase tickets prior to tour departure. All tours will begin in the lobby of the museum.

To schedule a group tour outside of regularly scheduled hours please contact our Education Coordinator via email ([email protected]) or call our office at 513-932-4421.

Picnics and Gatherings

There are shelter houses available for picnics and gatherings. We DO NOT make reservations for these spaces; they are first come first served. The site manager holds the authority to close these spaces off for site related events and activities.

Restrooms are available near the shelter house and in the museum. They are open and available to visitors from 10am to 5pm Wed-Sat and Noon-5pm Sundays. Restrooms may be closed periodically for cleaning and maintenance.

a bench sits in front of a cliff overlooking the Little Miami River valley, trees with brightly colored fall leaves frame the view.

Architectural Plan of Fort Ancient

Membership

Become an Ohio History Connection member today and explore our 50+ historic sites and museums throughout the state of Ohio for free, including Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve.

With tangible benefits such as free regular admission, discounts, invitations to members-only events and publications to intangible benefits such as supporting and sustaining Ohio’s legacy, members gain a greater understanding of Ohio’s past while connecting themselves to Ohio’s future. Make Ohio’s history part of your present, and experience all the Ohio History Connection has to offer.

Questions about membership? Call us at 800.686.1545 or email us at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!

Click here to become a member today!

Volunteer

Help assist with a variety of activities like trail maintenance, educational programs and more! Learn more by clicking here or email [email protected].

Outreach and Preservation Partners

Fort Ancient works in partnership with a variety of organizations in and around the Cincinnati, Dayton and Warren County areas. This network of businesses and organizations help promote Fort Ancient to the broader community through grants, public service announcements, community service, educational programs and technical support.

  • Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Master Gardeners of Warren County
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Audiences: K-5th Grade Students, 6-8th Grade Students, 9-12th Grade Students, Higher Education Students, Educators, Families, Government, Specialists, Tourists, Community Groups, History Enthusiasts & Sports Fans
  • Historical Topics: American Indian History & Archaeology
  • Regions: Southwest Ohio
  • Site Activities: Self-Guided, Hiking, Birdwatching & Guided Tours
  • Museum & Site Type: Geocaching Site, Blue Star Site, Ohio History Connection Site, Historic Site, Museum, Archaeology Site & American Indian Site

Upcoming Events at Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve