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Warm Up This Winter at Hot Springs National Park

by NPF
Thermal water spills into two stone-pined pools. The water is traveling downhill through lush vegetation before it reaches the pools.
Hot Springs National Park
NPS Photo

In 1921, our 18th national park was designated in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Known as "The American Spa," Hot Springs National Park is home to 47 natural hot springs. These springs maintain an average water temperature of 143° Fahrenheit and many are even easily accessible from the park’s main scenic road, West Mountain Drive.

Taking a Dip

Superior Bathhouse at Hot Springs National Park
Superior Bathhouse at Hot Springs National Park (NPS Photo / Mitch Smith)

The naturally high temperatures of the spring water make the water unsafe for bathing, so think twice before you dip your toes in. Fortunately, there are other options at the park that make it possible to submerse yourself in the therapeutic waters at a safe temperature.

Since the mid-19th century, bathhouses have been a staple of Hot Springs, Arkansas, as a way for visitors to experience the region's famous spring water. This tradition still carries on today in Hot Springs National Park.

You can bathe in the hot spring water at Buckstaff Baths, which has operated in the park for over 100 years. Or, treat yourself to a relaxing spa day at the Quapaw Bathhouse, where you'll find luxurious indoor and outdoor spring water pools. Afterwards, take a stroll down Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue to learn more about the rich history of the tradition.

Exploring the Park

The spring water has always been the feature attraction at Hot Springs National Park, but there's so much more to experience here than just what the name entails. The park spans more than 5,000 acres, prime for exploration. Here are a few ideas to make the most of all this great park has to offer:

Rick's Pond at Hot Springs National Park
Rick's Pond at Hot Springs National Park (NPS Photo / Calvin Smith)
  • Go for a drive – Several scenic driving routes provide a chance to explore the park, including Hot Springs Mountain Drive, which leads to a 216-foot lookout tower at the peak of Hot Springs Mountain.
  • Camp out – Camping is available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis alongside the Gulpha Creek. The site is open to tents as well as RVs.
  • Take a hike – The park includes 26 miles of hiking trails, which vary in length and difficulty level.
  • See the sights – Bathhouse Row has been designated a national historic landmark, and offers a fascinating view into the history of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
  • Tour the bathhouses One of the most impressive buildings in Hot Springs, Arkansas, is the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, an opulent structure that operated from 1915 to 1952.

With winter setting in across the country, now is the perfect time to take a dip at the American Spa. Hot Springs National Park is open year-round, but fewer people visit the park during winter months. It’s an ideal quiet destination during these colder days.

Looking for additional ways to escape the colder temperatures? Check out these four perfect national park lodges in warmer climates.

And once you're all warmed up, be sure to share your memories with us online using #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque.