Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is an incredible place to visit, and the park offers a wide variety of activities you can enjoy all year long! Hot Springs National Park is the only unit of the national park system that is actually mandated to give away its primary natural resource. The Ecosystem Supports 47 Naturally Heated Springs, many of which offer unique opportunities to visit. Even though there are no soaking opportunities outdoors, Bathhouse Row does have 2 available facilities that offer visitors the chance to fully submerge and relax in the thermal water. The thermal springs are piped directly into both of these bathhouses, offering users a true and authentic experience of the water. For more information on this, click here.

The spring water has always been the feature attraction at Hot Springs National Park, but there’s so much more to experience here than just what the name entails. The park spans more than 5,500 acres, which are prime for exploration. There Are 26 Miles of Hiking Trail found within the park, which over an excellent hiking experience.

The Springs Aren’t Volcanic- These unique, highly porous folds and faults in the rock to help create a route for rainwater to travel deep below the earth’s surface (as far as 8,000 feet below), slowly heating up as it goes. Eventually, the water hits a fault line and moves back up to the surface. The whole process takes about 4,400 years. As the water moves from under the surface, the heat helps dissolve minerals from the rocks, so when it emerges it already contains a variety of dissolved silica, calcium, calcium carbonate, magnesium, and potassium. Calcium carbonate, also known as limestone, can be seen deposited onto rocks.

Ancient thermal springs, mountain views, incredible geology, forested hikes, and abundant creeks – all in the middle of town – make Hot Springs National Park a unique and beautiful destination. There are numerous facts I found while researching this article. First: Hot Springs is the smallest National Park in the country with only 5,550 acres to explore. The average water temperature is 143 degrees. The water is also rich in minerals and in many cases is considered safe to drink. Drinking the hot springs water is perfectly normal, even encouraged. Thousands of visitors highly endorse the good quality of the hot springs water and fill bottles to take home.  Yellowstone is often considered the United States oldest national park. Hot Springs National Park is the oldest protected area in the National Park system.

Camping is also available within the park at Gulpha Gorge Campground. Campsites at Gulpha Gorge Campground vary in size and can accommodate both tents and recreational vehicles. All sites have full hookups: 30 and 50 amp electric, water and sewer connections. Sites are not pull-through. Each campsite has a picnic table, pedestal grill, and water. There are modern restrooms but no showers. Maximum occupancy is limited to eight people/two vehicles (one RV and one tent OR two tents) per site. At the time of this publication, Camping at Gulpha Gorge Campground costs $34 per night for all sites.

Walking paths have long been a part of Hot Springs National Park and the preceding Hot Springs Reservation. Today those walking paths form the base of the park’s trail system. There are two concentrated areas of hiking trails within the park, the Hot Springs and North Mountain Trails and the West Mountain Trails. Both of these areas are composed of relatively short, interconnected trails. The Sunset Trail is a longer trail that travels through more remote areas of the park.

Cyclists are allowed and welcome to ride on any of the paved roads in the park. The roads up to North Mountain and West Mountain maintain a progressive incline with moderate traffic, so please use caution and plan accordingly. The Pullman Trail has been designated for off road cycling.

The park is open year round and is an excellent place to visit during any season. Pictures used in this article are owned by the National Parks Service. For more great locations, within the great state of Arkansas, click here.