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.
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.
Average visit time: Allow 2+ hours. Plan Your Visit!
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.
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]
Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve was Ohio’s first state park. In April 1891, the state legislature authorized the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society (now the Ohio History Connection) to care for the site. In 1966, Fort Ancient became nationally recognized when it was named a National Historic Landmark. Learn more here.
Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve is managed by the Ohio History Connection.
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 six sites that make up Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe. To learn more, visit Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks.
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!
Help assist with a variety of activities like trail maintenance, educational programs and more! Learn more by clicking here.
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.
Keith Bengtson will lead a comprehensive workshop on the art of American Indian textiles. Examples of Native plants used for fiber in the Midwest will be shown and processed. Participants will be able to make their own twined fiber bag. Materials will be provided. Examples of reproduced items will be on display along with reference […]
As the leaves have fallen leaving the trees bare at the end of autumn, guests will be able to clearly view the 2,000 year old earthen walls as the sun rises on the shortest day of the year. Experience the solstice as ancient people may have done several thousand years ago. This event is free […]