Clinton, speaking to a private gathering in the backyard of his former home in Hope Saturday, credited his boyhood in the small town with helping him become president.
KTHV-TV, Little Rock, said it was the first time Clinton has visited his former home since it was turned into a museum in 1998.
"The one thing I learned living here is that arithmetic and governance and the aspirations of ordinary people are way more important than anybody's ideology," Clinton said in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report.
About 350 people attended the event, including Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, Congressman Mike Ross and Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar.
"The most important thing I can say to all of you today is 'thank you,'" Clinton said. "And I hope some of the good I got out of being here will be somehow communicated to the people who come."
The park becomes one of more than 30 presidential sites across the nation. It also becomes the 394th national park.