Hot Springs Nat'l Park Lake Getaways
Hot Springs National Park contains 47 hot springs flowing from the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain, at a temperature of 143 degrees F. The main attraction at this site has always been the hot spring water and baths given at eight magnificent bathhouses on Bathhouse Row. Many of the hot springs are now covered with green concrete boxes. These boxes keep the waters clean and available for bathing and drinking without artificial chemical treatment.
Early in the Twentieth Century the baths were taken as a therapeutic treatment for rheumatism and other ailments. Business declined dramatically after the advent of modern medicines. Today only the Buckstaff Bathhouse remains open for the traditional bath on Bathhouse Row. The hot springs are a special natural resource. The tradition of drinking the water and using it for bathing continues today, just as in days past. Many visitors and local residents collect the water in jugs and take it home with them.
The Visitor Center and museum offer self-guided tours of the former Fordyce Bathhouse. Modern exhibits include African Americans and the Hot Springs Baths, a 17-minute orientation movie and a nine-minute video showing the traditional bath routine. The basement showcases the Fordyce spring. Scheduled guided bathhouse tours and outdoor walking thermal tours are given by park rangers and volunteers in season and upon request. Campfire programs are available at the Gulpha Gorge Campground amphitheater during June, July and August.
There are approximately 26 miles of day-use hiking trails in the park (mountain bikes are prohibited). In addition there are scenic mountain drives on West Mountain, Hot Springs and North Mountains. An observation tower on top of Hot Springs Mountain is operated by a concessioner. There are picnic tables on the Grand Promenade, Hot Springs Mountain, West Mountain and at Gulpha Gorge.
Many recreation opportunities are available for visitors to Hot Springs National Park. Touring the Visitor Center and the Bathhouse Row area are highly recommended. Visitors will also enjoy the hiking, picnicking, camping at Gulpha Gorge Campground, and taking a thermal bath at one of the many concessioners.