Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park

Head Down South to the Majestic Hot Springs

November 21, 2012, 8:49 am

In the United States the term “national park” is evocative of stunning mountain vistas, bounding exotic wildlife and treks into the wilderness. Hot Springs National Park may not fit that motif, but its historic nature and stunning architecture make it one of the many must visit places on your trip down to Arkansas.

The land where the current national park exists has been historically important for centuries. The waters of the hot springs have been important for medicinal purposes since the times of indigenous people. A natural phenomenon, this tourist attraction is right in the heart of town.

In 1921, the location became a national park and, with just 5,500 acres, Hot Springs may be the smallest national park but it sure packs a punch. Escape the cold weather and head down to experience some southern hospitality. Warm up in baths of the hot springs.

The Fordyce Bathhouse is the centerpiece of the park and historical tours of the building are available. You will get an insider’s view of this impressive piece of architecture. The Fordyce offers amenities beyond a typical bathhouse. From stained glass ceilings to one of the first elevators in the nation to a bowling alley, not everyone could afford the $15 charge for a stay over a century ago.

Take a stroll down Bathhouse Row and experience the same beauty that has existed for over a century. The opulence illustrates that some of these houses were reserved for the elite. The bathhouses were a national sensation, hosting a variety of notable individuals including Jack Dempsey, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Boston Red Sox.

The Hot Springs still function in a similar manner as they did centuries ago. At Buckstaff Baths, you can experience the traditional methods that have been used at the Hot Springs since the 1800s. Indulge, relax and rejuvenate in the waters that hold both a healing a historical quality.

The Buckstaff opened its doors back in 1912 and is the only operating bathhouse within the confines of the park. Settle in for a Swedish style massage, indulge in a Thermal Mineral Bath or soak in the heat of the Vapor Cabinet. Before modern medicine, many believed baths in the hot springs provided them with the best chance to cure their maladies.

A national park just wouldn’t be the same without hiking opportunities. The Hot Springs and North Mountain Trails vary in length from 528 feet to 1.7 miles. Exercise was a large component of recovery for those who came to the Hot Springs. The trails are often on the shorter side, encouraging relaxation and the expectation that individuals are getting out to enjoy fresh air. For more information about the park, visit Ohranger.com/hot-springs.