Hot Springs National Park is located in central Arkansas, United States. The park covers an area of 8.68 square miles (22.5 sq km) making it the second-smallest US national park right ahead of Gateway Arch National Park.
Hot Springs Mountain is part of the Ouachita Mountain range which spans from southeastern Oklahoma into western Arkansas. The hot springs flow from the western side of the mountain.
These hot springs have been leveraged for therapeutic baths by the community and travelers from around the world for over 200 years. There are a series of buildings serving as bathhouses that align with the back of the mountain accessing these springs.
These buildings that house the health-oriented baths have been incorporated inside the boundaries of the national park. Because parts of the city are included inside the national park, it means that Hot Springs National Park is one of the most accessible parks in the country.
The row of buildings housing hot springs bathhouses is affectionately known as Bathhouse Row, and they are collectively recognized as a National Historic Landmark as well.
The park was expanded beyond the originally protected bathhouse and hot springs area to include Hot Springs Mountain, North Mountain, West Mountain, and Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf Mountain has no correlation with the renowned Sugarloaf Mountain at the base of Corcovado.
Hot Springs Highlights
The hot springs are the pinnacle attraction of the park and the feature that draws visitors from around the world.
The hot springs are sourced from the west side of Hot Springs Mountain. The springs of the mountain deliver over 500,000 gallons of hot water every day. This fresh naturally steamed hot water is used to supply the bathhouses with their hot water for the therapeutic baths.
The hot springs baths do come with an extra fee separate from any park entrance fee. This money is used to support the US National Park Service.
Hot Springs Mountain Tower
Hot Springs Mountain Tower is an enclosed observation deck that is located atop of Hot Springs Mountain. The tower is a steel constructed observation area that reaches a height of 216 feet (65.8 m).
The tower provides visitors with a 360o panoramic view of the mountains, national park, and Hot Springs area. It is like getting a grounded aerial view of the area.
Trails of Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park is renowned for the hot springs in the area, however, there is more nature there to explore which is accessible with several hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult adventures.
Hot Springs Mountain Trail: This is an easy 3.3-mile (5.3 km) loop trail that meanders through the forest and along the hillside of the mountain. There is an elevation gain of 672 feet (204.8 m).
Peak Trail: This is an easy 1.3-mile (2.09 km) trail although it ascends 357 feet (108.8 m). The trail makes its way through forests and along with wildflowers toward a lookout over the Hot Springs city area.
Grand Promenade Trail: This is a 1.2-mile (1.93 km) loop trail that is popular for getting outdoors and walking through the trees and clean air. The trail is often used by families and runners because of its easy accessibility and its well-developed status.
Great Rock Trail: This moderate rated trail ascends 380 feet (115.8 m) over 2.4 miles (3.86 km) up to a scenic lookout over the park terrain. Along with the panoramic views, there are chances to see birds, other wildlife, and wildflowers.
Gulpha Gorge Trail: This short 1.2-mile (1.9 km) trail has an incline gain of 383 feet (116.7 m). The trail is rated moderate; however, it features gorgeous views, chances to see wildlife, and tranquility through the forest.
Hot Springs Highlights
- Hot Baths
- Hot Springs Mountain Tower
- All Trails, Best Trails in Hot Springs National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/arkansas/hot-springs-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park, https://www.arkansas.com/hot-springs/attractions-culture/hot-springs-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- Britannica, Hot Springs National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Hot-Springs-National-Park, retrieved June 2020.
- Hot Springs Mountain Tower, official site, https://hotspringstower.com/, retrieved June 2020.
- National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
- National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
- National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
- National Park Service, Hot Springs, https://www.nps.gov/hosp/index.html, retrieved June 2020.
- US News, Hot Springs National Park, https://travel.usnews.com/Hot_Springs_AR/Things_To_Do/Hot_Springs_National_Park_64673/, retrieved June 2020.