Hot Spring National Park
Fittingly, even the Gangster Museum of America, packed with Capone lore, is tucked away: Your guide will open the secret door for you. As the minutes pass, your aches, pains and cares seemingly melt away. The William J.
Where History and Nature Meet.
Here, you eye a series of small tiled pools with natural spring waters ranging in temperature from 98 to degrees. Under the light of an arched stained glass ceiling, you start a soothing soaking ritual, moving from pool to pool to moderate your temperature. As the minutes pass, your aches, pains and cares seemingly melt away. Without an entrance booth or gate, and with attractions both indoors and outdoors, this isn’t your typical national park. With its abundant natural resource of hot spring water, people come here to do the Hot Springs Soak, a centuries-old bathing tradition, in ornate bathhouses.
HSNP boasts 47 springs, 27 of which are used for bathing, soaking and drinking. Loyalists like to tout HSNP as the country’s first national park.
In a way, they have a point. InPresident Andrew Jackson named it the country’s first federal reservation — a forerunner to the National Park Service, which Congress established in The history of the area starts long before the early s, of course. Native Americans relied on these waters for centuries, believing they had curative properties. It’s thought that Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto soaked in these springs inthe first European to do so.
Bathers today know that soaking in the warm spring-fed pools after a long hike does a body good, soothing tired muscles. The eight bathhouses now on Bathhouse Row — the heart of the park on Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs — were built Hot Spring National Park and in grand architectural styles ranging from Renaissance Revival Glacier National Park To Great Falls Mt Spanish Colonial Revival, and seven of them have been painstakingly restored.
The eighth one is closed. Bathhouse Row should be your first stop, but the park also lures visitors with its 5, acres of green expanse in three of the Ouachitas — Hot Springs, North and West mountains. Made from Arkansas Novaculite, sandstone and shale, the mountainsides have sharp, gray outcroppings that shimmer in the sun and provide places to sit and rest when you’re hiking or cycling their trails.
Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center is closed, but you can explore the building’s exterior and Hot Spring National Park on the front porch. Check the park website for updates. Individual bathhouses may take customer temperatures and have other virus precautions in place.
Check for updates on the state’s Department of Health website. The state capital, Little Rockis just 55 miles northeast; Memphis, Tennessee, miles northeast; Dallas, miles southwest; and Oklahoma City, miles northwest. If you prefer to hop on a plane, you can fly into Hot Springs Memorial Field, a small airport with commercial flights to and from Dallas. Driving in Hot Springs is easy, and free parking is well marked.
Downtown is a condensed, walkable area, with many hotels, shops and restaurants just across the street from Bathhouse Row. The weather and longer days make for good hiking conditions, pleasant picnics and ideal selfies on scenic overlooks.
But spring and fall are the local secrets: lower room rates, less-crowded spas, fewer mosquitos, less humidity and foliage that’s either blooming or changing color. The weather typically cooperates, as well, with average highs in the mids during the day and in the low 50s at night in April and October.
If you visit in mid-March, the city hosts the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a hilarious foot celebration and the exception to the smaller-crowds-in-spring rule. The park remains open all year round, but the average highs and lows drop to 50 and 30 degrees in winter, and you may even see a dusting of snow.
Also, bathhouses, museums…
Updates on Hot Springs
Inside, its nine rooms take you back in time with exposed brick walls, original archways and thermal baths. Here, you eye a series of small tiled pools with natural spring waters ranging in temperature from 98 to degrees. See beautiful mountain scenery from the comfort of your car on two different driving routes with well-placed overlooks. Water is what attracts people to Hot Springs.