With its intriguing mix of history, geology and nature, Arkansa`s Hot Springs National Park holds a unique place in the parks system. The smallest of the designated national parks, it wraps around a modern urban area set within a valley of the rugged Ouachita Mountains. The park’s 5,500 acres encompass wooded uplands, crisscrossed by 26 miles of hiking trails. Of course, the center of many park activities is Bathhouse Row; the Buckstaff Bathhouse has been in continuous operation since 1912.
Steam billows from the ground, and the Paleo Indians, who bathed here as long as 14,000 years ago, called it the “Valley of the Vapors.” In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Americans called it “the Nation’s Health Sanitorium” and flocked to the park’s wellness centers to “quaff the elixir,” hoping that the silica-rich water would cure them of everything from gout to metallic poisoning.
While such a panacea has long been debunked, the tiny park’s 43 thermal springs still attract those seeking to relax in the soothing waters. Seven hundred thousand gallons of the water, which averages a robust 143°F rises through sandstone fissures a mile below the Ouachita Mountains, allowing visitors to have a soak in one of the ornate spas lining Bathhouse Row, or sweat in a sauna cave.
Hot Springs National Park is an American national park covering an area of 5,554 arces in central Garland County, Arkansas.
Location : L 369 Central Ave, Hot Springs, Arkansas, AR 71901, United States
ANNUAL VISITORS: 1.47 M