“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Originally planning to visit Hot Springs National Park in early June, traveling North from Texas, we decided it might be better to stop in early spring while heading back South. So glad we did because we found the daffodils and trees in bloom with gorgeous colors of yellow and pink and temperatures hovering in the low seventies. Perfect!
Before arriving at Hot Springs, we made a slight detour and traveled about a hundred miles down the Natchez Trace Parkway.
Hot Springs National Park is the smallest of the National Parks and it is the only national park located in an urban setting. Found right in the heart of the historic district in the city of Hot Springs we could see how street parking might be an issue, especially if you have a big truck like we do. There is a free parking garage located just off of Bathhouse Row, which incidentally is outside of the park boundaries. The eight buildings that make up Bathhouse row are in the park, but the street and the buildings across from them are in the city. The visitor center is located in the restored Fordyce Bathhouse in the middle of Bathhouse Row. You can take a self-guided tour of the restored rooms, furnished as they appeared during the heyday of the spa, or do as we did and take a ranger led tour (highly recommended) to better learn the rich history. We were surprised (well maybe not) at the differences between the Women’s and Men’s spa!
After exploring the Fordyce Bathhouse we took a stroll along the Promenade located behind Bathhouse Row. Green boxes cover most of the 47 springs to prevent contamination. The water is tested regularly to ensure quality and, like many visitors, we filled up a jug at one of the fountains to drink later.
A short drive up Hot Springs Mountain Drive we found picnic tables and ate lunch. We then took a brief 1.7-mile hike on Hot Springs Mountain Trail before heading out.
We are not kidding when we say that Hot Springs is a small national park. Don’t expect to find a lot of hiking trails within the park and unless you want to spend time in or near the city of Hot Springs plan to make your visit to Hot Springs National Park short and sweet.
Visited March, 2015
Up next: We’re going to Europe!