Hot Springs National Park – Tips and Images

Hot Springs National Park Tips and Images @handbookofnaturestudy

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is a park like no other that I have visited before. This national park is not gated by an entrance station and has no real parking within its borders.

Hot Springs National Park and Town

Instead, this national park is right in the middle of a town! Hot Springs National Park is not far from Little Rock so when we were traveling through on our cross country trip last April, we made a visit to this interesting place.

Hot Springs National Park day (3)

My daughter and I arrived early in the morning when there was still plenty of on street parking and the temperatures were cool. The national park is one side of the street and the town is on the other.
Hot Springs National Park May 2014 (16)

We were too early to tour the Fordyce Bath House (where the Visitor’s Center is located) so we took a stroll along the Promenade just behind the row of bathhouses. In this image you can see the stairway up to the various terraces where the pathways are located.

Hot Springs National Park May 2014 (4)
It was a pleasant walk in a green and wooded area where we heard lots of birdsong.

Hot Springs National Park May 2014 (8)
There were several paths (more on hiking in the park) to take and if you have enough time you can hike to the top of the mountain behind the bathhouses to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. We were on a time schedule so we didn’t do that hike this time but we would have liked to do so and would highly recommend it to other families.
Hot Springs National Park May 2014 (1)
These hot springs are different than those we have seen in the past. The waters are heated by pressure and friction (you can read more here). They do not have any sulfuric smell at all and you can find both hot and cold springs within the park.

There are places you can bring your own containers to fill up water from the hot springs to take home. I purchased a water bottle and filled it up as a gift for my son in New York. In times past, people were given prescriptions for hot springs water to cure all sorts of ailments.

Hot Springs National Park day (1)
Today you can still have the traditional hot springs bath experience at the Buckstaff Bathhouse. We watched the movie in the visitor’s center that showed just what you do when you take a hot springs bath…super interesting and very involved.
Hot Springs National Park May 2014 (19)
We were interested in these steam baths…not sure I would like to actually get in one but still rather interesting (only your head sticks out).
Hot Springs National Park May 2014 (22)
This is one of the bath house rooms where the men would sit after their bath.

Hot Springs National Park May 2014 (21)
In their hey day, these bath houses were quite stylish and reminded me of the gilded age. There were many stained glass windows and ceilings throughout and very ornate furniture and decorations.

Hot Springs National Park day (6)

You can also have a more modern hot springs experience at the Quapaw Baths and Spa right in the middle of the national park.

This was a wonderful half day trip for us and if you want to add in the bath house experience or hike to the tower, you could easily spend a whole day exploring the national park. I would love to also take time to investigate the surrounding areas of Arkansas. Arkansas was a surprising place for both my daughter and I. It was so much prettier than we had imagined it to be and much greener. I can imagine it would get very humid in the summer time but in the spring it was lovely.

I highly recommend visiting this park with your family!

You can watch a video on YouTube for Hot Springs National Park.

Some Quick Notes About Hot Springs National Park

  • Hours and Seasons
  • There is no charge to enter Hot Springs National Park
  • Lodging is available in Hot Springs, Arkansas and we enjoyed staying in Little Rock, Arkansas (about 50 miles away)
  • The campground looked really nice at Gulpha Gorge
  • There is a Jr. Ranger program!
  • You can get your National Parks Passport stamped at Bathhouse Row Emporium (a fantastic gift shop and book store!)

You can read more of my national park tips in these entries:

 

Comments

  1. That steam bath looks like an instrument of torture.

    • Barb McCoy says:

      I don’t think I would have liked it but it was a feature of the full bath experience and many people enjoy it.

  2. Cheryl Ramirez says:

    We went to Hot Springs last winter and it was just as beautiful then, even with snow. We got some great photos of the steam coming out of the springs. I, too, woulkd enjoy a return trip! What is this about a state park book being stamped? We collect badges for our walking sticks, but I didn’t know about the books.

    • Barb McCoy says:

      It is a national park passport and you can get one on Amazon or at any national park. They have official stamping stations, usually at the visitor’s center, that have a stamp to put in your book as a record of your visit. It is a great project!

  3. Samantha says:

    I noticed on your photo you have AK for Arkansas. AR is Arkansas, AK is Alaska, and AZ is Arizona. It’s a very common mistake, but it is one that can cause quite a headache, especially if you’re from there. :-)

    Arkansas is a very beautiful place to visit and a wonderful place to live. Many form their opinion of the state based on what they see from the interstate as they drive through on the way to somewhere else, but that isn’t a good picture of Arkansas at all. If you come back for a visit, check out the huge variety of state parks and all they have to offer in the way of lodging and recreation. The lakes around Hot Springs are fabulous. There are several rivers with canoe rental that are fun to do. There are caves up in the mountains. You can dig for diamonds in the southern part of the state. There are mountains and trails and streams galore. So much to do!

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