Guide to Camping in Hot Springs National Park

Guide to Camping in Hot Springs National Park

Camping is one aspect of visiting a National Park that many people take to be a package deal. However, Hot Springs National Park is slightly different in this regard since it is so small and mostly an urbanized space.

There are still plenty of options for you to camp just outside of the National Park and soak up some outdoor time.

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Campgrounds in Hot Springs National Park

Gulpha Gorge Campground

  • Type : Tent / RV
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $30
  • Reservation : No

Gulpha Gorge Campground is the only campground within the boundaries of Hot Springs National Park. It is managed and maintained by the National Park Service and can host both tent campers and RVs.

There are approximately 40 sites, each of which has access to full hookups, including 30 and 50 amp electrical, water connections, and even sewer connection. The sites are not pull-through for RVs, so some navigating may need to be done. Each one also has a camp table, water, and a pedestal grill for cooking camping meals.

There is a limit to the length of stay, being 14 consecutive days or a total of 30 days in a calendar year. Each site is only available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the whole year. The dump station is accessible all year, and there is good cell phone reception since it is close to a populated area.

Campgrounds Near Hot Springs National Park

Lake Ouachita State Park

  • Type : RV / Tent / Cabins
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : Varies
  • Reservation : Yes

Lake Ouachita is Arkansas’s largest lake. It is host to over 40,000 acres of clear, beautiful water and is mostly surrounded by the picturesque Ouachita National Forest. You can do many things to enjoy the lake, including swimming, scuba diving, and fishing.

There are rentals to engage with these activities even if you don’t bring them with you. Included among these are camping, giving you closer access to the Lake, National park, and National Forest.

All told, the park has 93 campsites that range from Class AAA to walk-in tent sites. Some of these are right on the water, fulfilling a nature seeker’s camping dreams. There are also four camping cabins if you would like a more comfortable way to engage with nature.

Most of this area is dog-friendly and equipped with plenty of amenities to make your trip easier. The facilities include picnic tables, rental areas, a visitor center, and more.

Lake Catherine State Park

  • Type : Cabin / Tent / RV
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : Varies
  • Reservation : Yes

Lake Catherine State Park is another State Park that is closeby to Hot Springs National Park. It is smaller than Lake Ouachita, but it is still one of the five primary lakes in the Ouachita Mountain region. This State Park is the only one with a full-service marina on the lake and has boat rentals available year-round.

There are picnic tables and plenty of trails around which you can take to view the lake or waterfalls that stream back to the lake at the campsite. There are 20 cabins that come fully-equipped, including one with two bedrooms to give you more of a family getaway experience.

In total, this campground offers 70 different campsites, including Class AAA, Class B, some primitive sites, and even a Rent-A-Yurt. Most of these sites are located next to the lake. During the whole year, you can take advantage of park interpreters who offer tours around the lake and forest area.

Bar Fifty Guest Ranch RV & Horse Park Campground

  • Type : Tent / RV
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $32
  • Reservation : Yes

Come to Bar Fifty Guest Ranch if you are looking for a getaway and a unique experience. You can get a chance to interact with horses here if you have booked with them in advance. It is also in a very picturesque part of the countryside. You will find yourself surrounded by a cedar forest.

Bring your binoculars since birding and watching for wildlife is an easy pastime here. Each of the sites is a pull-through and has water, electric, and sewage hook-ups. They also can have picnic tables, and a community fire pit is located in the center of the park to encourage engagement with the other campers and families.

Other resources that the campground offers are cedar bathhouses with showers, and there are restroom facilities placed conveniently throughout the camping area. The campground is also pet-friendly on a leash or dog harness.

Hot Springs National Park KOA Kampground

  • Type : Tent / RV / Cabin
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : Varies
  • Reservation : Yes

One of the closest campgrounds to the National Park without actually being in it is the KOA Kampground for this specific park. It is nestled into the foothills in the Ouachita Mountains and gives you a relaxing place to stay surrounded by nature while visiting this interesting park and its city.

At the campground, there are a variety of campsites available for rental year-round. These have 50 max amp electrical hookups, Wi-Fi connection, and some of them have cable TV. Accessible to anyone using the campground is a pool, although this is only open from May into October.

There is also a Kamping Kitchen, mini-golf, cable TV, and propane, and snacks for purchase.

These sites are dog-friendly and give you a chance to get to know other campers with some of their communal areas. There are showers and restrooms throughout the campsite for convenient use.

J & J RV Park

  • Type : RV
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : Varies
  • Reservation : Yes

J & J RV Park is just the kind of big-rig friendly site that you can use to get away from the hustle and bustle while staying in the comfort of your home on wheels. This campground is primarily an RV park and is beautifully landscaped with easy access to surrounding State Parks and Hot Springs National Park.

Each one of the sites at this RV park is equipped with 30 and 50 amp service hookups. They are easy to access since each one is pull-thru. It is also viable to bring your car with a roof top tent to the campground. Additional amenities include TV access, laundry facilities, paved roads, and handicap accessibility. There is also a wireless internet connection available at every site.

The owners of this RV Park live on-site so that they can be of the most service possible to you and your family. It is easy to reserve, and late arrivals are accepted. Nearby, there is a natural creek and a forest.

Camping Tips for Hot Springs National Park

  1. Look outside the National Park. Camping with your family, or as a single camper, might not seem like a viable option if you only look in the National Park. There is only one campground within its boundaries because it is so small. Be open to camping in one of the surrounding State Parks.
  2. Come equipped for the weather. As always, you need to stay warm and dry, no matter when you visit. Ensure you spray your gear with a waterproofing spray before heading out and bring plenty of blankets during the cooler seasons. Most campgrounds here are open year-round, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get cold.
  3. Be open to the community. Don’t be afraid to move your nightly s’mores cookout to the central ring in some of these campgrounds. Many are geared towards fostering a healthy outdoor community.
  4. Utilize the surrounding area for contact with nature. This National Park does not focus on great outdoor beauty but is primarily urbanized. If you want some outside time, look to the surrounding State Parks during your trip.
  5. Bring your swimsuits. One of the biggest allures of this National Park is the hot mineral water that flows underground and through the pools. Bring your swimsuit to fully experience what the park offers and take one of the famed baths in the hot springs.
  6. Look into the variety of staying options. There are plenty of options when it comes to camping. If you want something more comfortable, consider staying in a cabin instead of a tent or bringing your RV the whole way there.
  7. Bring your dog. Most of this area is widely accepting of dogs. You can even take them into the National Park since it is mostly in the town of Hot Springs. Simply ensure that they are behaving while around other people and animals.

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.