Hot Springs National Park Things to Do

  • Exterior: Lamar Baths
    Exterior: Lamar Baths
    by fred98115
  • Exterior: Hale Bath House
    Exterior: Hale Bath House
    by fred98115
  • Exterior: Superior Bath House
    Exterior: Superior Bath House
    by fred98115

Most Recent Things to Do in Hot Springs National Park

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    Do Walk the Grounds

    by fred98115 Written Aug 18, 2015

    There is so much to do indoors at this park hat it is easy to overlook the grounds around the buildings. This was a full service facility for the clients, indoors and outside. For the amateur photographer, it is a chance to see and take pictures of the springs, Most have been covered to protect them from vandals. At least walk to the end of the line of bath houses and see one of the springs and its vapors. It is a small area but a productive one in which to photograph. There are longer trails on the hillside, but weather limited our access.

    New Evergreen Growth Park at the End of the Bath Houses Cascades from a hot spring Cascades and Pool Cascade from a hot spring
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    Fascinating Ranger Guided Tour

    by fred98115 Written Aug 18, 2015

    The ranger guided tour of the Fordyce Bath House provides an opportunity for the amateur shutterbug to see behind the scenes of a bath house and capture shots of the details of a spa. This was a working spa and is in original condition. Think unique. We were there on a rainy day and the lighting, to be charitable, was challenging. Still, I adjusted the ISO and went for natural lighting. I think flash lighting would be harsh, and some of the items are behind glass. Zoom lens with image stablization and no tripod worked fine.

    Dressing Room Hubbard Tub Steam Bath Shower hardware Stained Glass
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    Check out the Bath House Exteriors

    by fred98115 Written Aug 18, 2015

    As an amateur photographer, I found the exteriors of the bath houses to be intriguing, They are not your standard boxes built today. The layout of buildings along a single street makes it easy to wander about and take pictures. I used my zoom lens and no tripod, mostly because I like to travel light and have image stabilization lenses.

    Exterior: Lamar Baths Exterior: Quapaw Bath House Exterior: Fordyce Bath House Exterior: Hale Bath House Exterior: Superior Bath House
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    Charger/Challenger Rally

    by Basaic Written Sep 9, 2009

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    As I drove my Dodge Charger into the parking area at the top of the hill, I noticed the car next to me was another Charger, and next to that another one, then a Challenger. I had happened on a Charger/Challenger Rally. Needless to say I fit right in. Mine is Photo 5.

    Address: 325 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901

    Directions: Behind Bathhouse Row

    Phone: (501) 625-3631

    Website: http://www.nps.gov/HOSP/index.htm

    Challenger Charger R/T Charger Charger Superbee Charger R/T Daytona Special Edition (Mine)
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    Bathhouse Row

    by Basaic Written Sep 9, 2009

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    Of course one of the main things to do at Hot Springs National Park is to go to bathhouse row and experience the springs. People have flocked to the area since the mid 1800s to experience the healing powers and just plain comfort from the hot natural water. Bathhouse row started then and has changed in some ways and stayed the same in some. Of the eight original buildings on the row; one is now the visitor's center and two (I think) function as bathhouses.

    Address: 325 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, AR 71901

    Phone: (501) 625-3631

    Website: http://www.nps.gov/HOSP/index.htm

    Ozark Bathhouse
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    See one of the springs

    by Toughluck Written Jan 26, 2007

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    Since the 1940's, all of the springs have been closed in and the water is piped to the bathhouses and fountains. This has been done to protect the health of those who bath and drink the water. A few of the original springs are still open and you can visit them. Take the walkways on either side of the Maurice Bathhouse, around back. You will find several open springs for your viewing.

    Address: 1/2 way down Bathhouse Row

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    Take a walk on the Grand Promenade

    by Toughluck Written Jan 26, 2007

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    Running along the side of Hot Springs Mountain, behind the bathhouses is the Grand Promenade. It is a quieter area, where you can find shade, benches and a pleasant walk. When your day seems long, take a break and listen to the wind in the trees somewhere on the Promenade.

    East entrance to the Promenade The Promenade Between the Bathhouses to the Promenade
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    Take a Bath

    by Toughluck Written Jan 26, 2007

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    Take a traditional bath at the Buckstaff Baths, a park concessionaire since 1912, or at any of the following bathhouses in the city of Hot Springs that have Park Service special permits to offer thermal bathing:
    Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa, Austin Hotel and Spa, Downtown Hotel and Spa

    Arlington Hotel at the west end of Bathhouse Row
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    Stroll Bathhouse Row

    by Toughluck Written Jan 26, 2007

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    Bathhouse Row is the center of the original 'Medicinal Reserve' created in 1832. The Federal Gov't set aside the hot springs and the mountains to protect this natural curative waters. Because it was so remote from the population centers of it's time, it never became a common goal of health seekers like the Spa's of Europe. But it did provide comfort, both medically and physically to those who came here to take the waters.

    For more information, see my Bathhouse Row Travelogue.

    Website: http://www.nps.gov/hosp

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    Tour a Bathhouse

    by Toughluck Updated Jan 26, 2007

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    Fordych Bathhouse has been fully restored by the National Park Service. Today, you can visit the entire building and find out what was involved in taking a 'medicinal' bath. It's more than just soaking in the tub. For a feel of the tour, please visit my Fordych Bathhouse Travelogue.

    Address: Bathhouse Road

    Website: http://www.nps.gov/hosp

    The Fordych
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    Hot Springs Mountain Tower

    by grandmaR Updated Sep 17, 2006

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    We saw this tower from the top of the opposite hill. It is part of the National Park, but is operated bya concessioner, so even though there is no admission for other parts of the park, there is an additional fee to go to the top of the Tower. The road up to the tower winds up the side of the mountain, with many hairpin turns which is inaccessible to motorcoaches. We had a difficult time, just in a regular car. On a clear day you can see 140 miles. There were two of those coin operated binoculars. But it isn't just the view - there is also historical info is located on the enclosed observation deck, and includes a souvenir shop.

    The drive up is Free and there is Free Parking at the top.

    This tower, which is a 65.8 metre high observation tower built of lattice steel built in 1983 is not the first tower to be built on this location. The Wikipedia entry notes: In the nineteenth century, a 75-foot wooden fire tower was constructed on the site. This tower was later struck by lightning and burned to the ground. The mid-twentieth century saw the construction of a 175-foot steel structure [later renamed the Rix Tower] which later proved unstable and was torn down.

    Hours

    November 1- February 28 9 a.m. -5 p.m.
    March 1- May 15 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
    May 16-Labor Day 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
    Day After Labor Day-October 31 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

    Admission (which is rather steep)
    Adults(12 and over) $4.00
    Seniors $3.50
    Children(5 to 11) $2.00
    Children (4 and under) FREE

    Some people report that the fee was $6.00, but if that is so, they haven't changed the website yet.

    Address: 401 Hot Springs Mountain Dr

    Directions: To reach the Tower, turn off Central Avenue (State Highway 7) in Downtown Hot Springs onto Fountain Street and follow the signs to the Tower.

    Phone: (501) 623-6035

    Website: http://www.hotspringsar.com/info/tower/tower.htm

    Mountain tower from West Mountain Base of the tower from the parking lot Information display at the top View from the tower Road up the mountain
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    National Park Bathhouses

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 10, 2006

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    The sign outside Fordyce Bathhouse (which has been restored to the original appearance by the NPS) says:

    "Inspired by the spas of Europe, Colonel Samuel Fordyce opened this Renaissance Revival bathhouse in 1915. With its copper-framed glass marquee and elegant window design, the Fordyce reflects a crowning achievement of the Golden Age of Bathing.

    The bathhouse occupied an ideal location next to the Formal entrance to the park, its roof garden was within sight and sound of the grandstand on the hillside above."

    Inside the Fordyce Bathhouse is the Visitor's Center for the National Park. The whole bathhouse has been restored and is a museum where you can see such things as the gymnasium, the dressing rooms, the treatment rooms, and the roof garden areas.

    Bob with the Maurice bathhouse and a hot spring Treatment room Ladies dressing room Ladies state room Gym with medicine balls
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    Bathhouse Row

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 10, 2006

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    The core of the Hot Springs National Park includes eight restored bathhouses. Although all the literature says there are eight, I only count seven of them. The southmost one is Buckstaff, and then, in order are Ozark, Quapaw, Fordyce, Maurice, Hale and Superior. Of the bathhouses, only Buckstaff remains open for the traditional baths, although baths can be taken at other locations such as the Arlington Hotel or the Majestic Hotal.. Both Fordyce and Maurice Bathhouses can be leased.

    We walked up the street along Bathhouse Row and I took pictures of the bathhouses on the south end before we toured Fordyce Bathhouse. I wish we could have tried a traditional bath, but our health concerns precluded it.

    The mission style Ozark bathhouse opened for business in 1922. In 1946 (a peak year) they gave over 82 thousand baths. Ozark closed in 1977 after giving fewer than ten thousand baths that year. It is now being restored by the NPS and will be available for lease when restoration is complete. The twin towers are strictly decorative. Quapaw, Fordyce and Hale also have the red clay roof tiles.

    The Caddo, Quapaw and Choctaw tribes lived in or visited the area in the 1700s and 1800s. The Quapaw bathhouse was named for the Quapaw Indians, and the owners incorporated an indian head design over the entrance. It was completed in 1922 and occupies the side of two earlier wooden bathhouses, the Horseshoe and the Magnesia.

    Buckstaff Baths Models of the eight bathhouses Ozark Bathhouse Quapaw Bathhouse Maurice and Hale Bathhouses
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    Drive up West Mountain

    by grandmaR Written Feb 13, 2006

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    There are two automobile roads up into the mountains in the Hot Springs National Park. One of them is up West Mountain. This road is steep (goes up to 1100 feet above sea level) but is relatively straight (for a mountain road). It has two or three overlooks, one of them with a picnic area shelter and there is a loop at the summit.

    We drove up this mountain after we visited the NPS Visitor's Center.

    Directions: Access via either Whittington Avenue or Prospect Avenue.

    Panorama from the summit Through the winter striped branches to town Telephoto from an overlook From an overlook - telephoto picture of church Road in winter
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    Sample the Water

    by PinkFloydActuary Written Dec 4, 2005

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    Hey, you can't travel to Hot Springs and not try the water that folks drive over to fill water jugs with! Souvenier stores across the way sell jugs for you to fill, but we just used an empty water bottle for a small taste at the spring next to the visitor center and later at one of the thermal jug fountains. While it comes out fairly warm (as if you were drinking tea), I have to say that it is very crisp water, and would be very good if it were cold.

    Wifey samples the water!
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