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Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Visit to Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park.  Another one of those destinations we had in mind on our road trip to Arkansas.  We arrived on a rainy afternoon, and stopped by the visitor center to get out of the rain and also get an idea of things to do at Hot Springs. 
The Visitor Center is at the Fordyce Bath House on Bath House Row in Hot Springs.  The National Park is extremely urban for being a National Park.  Essentially, it preserves seven historic bathhouses and an associated hillside of springs.  We took a walking tour of the Fordyce Bath House and saw a pretty well preserved snapshot of upper class living in the late 19th, early 20th centuries.  There are two bathhouses that are open for soaks and massages and the like, but they're a little pricy, and not really designed for young children, so we didn't visit them. 
Behind Bathhouse Row, and across the hillside are lots of green boxes.  These are the springs.  They've been capped to preserved the water quality.  Doing a drive on the east mountain, it was amazing how many of the green boxes one can count just from their vehicle.  It must have been quite amazing back in the day before they were capped to see them!
The Promenade is a great little walking area.  It's well paved in brick and has a nice view of downtown Hot Springs from along it. 
There are a few open springs, just around back from several of the bath houses.  I though they were the best part of the visit.  Unfortunately, they are closed to soaking.  They're still great to look at.  There are a few fountains that have fresh spring water that are open to the public.  After spending a night at the Guleph Gulch Campground, we drove over one morning and filled a few water bottles and used it to make our oatmeal.  The water comes out at 140 degrees! 

Overall, I'd have to say that Hot Springs National Park disappointed me.  A primitive hot spring to soak in would have been quite fantastic.  There were a few hiking trails, but it's definitely not on par with other National Park towns like Mammoth in Yellowstone, Estes Park right outside Rocky Mountain National Park, or Springdale outside of Zion National Park.  That and Hot Springs doesn't feel like a vacation destination by itself, in fact it seems kindof shabby and outdated. 

Nearest City: Hot Springs, AR
Location: N° W°
Time Needed: varies
Difficulty: easy
Kid Friendly: borderline
Additional Info:

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