Where is Hot Springs National Park?
Hot Springs National Park is located in Arkansas and is one of the few National Parks in the U.S. situated primarily in an urban area. The National Park surrounds the city of Hot Springs.
There are quite a few other small towns that circle Hot Springs. The closest major city to the National park is Little Rock, Arkansas, the state’s capital.
What is Hot Springs National Park famous for?
Hot Springs National Park stands out from other National Parks for a variety of reasons. Of course, the main one is the hot springs that bubble up to the surface around the park in scattered pools and streams.
These hot springs were discovered back in the early 1800s or late 1700s. They have ever since been a site for gathering and interest. The city of Hot Springs was built around them, and bathhouses have been serviceable for the public for many generations. Now, the National Park has regulations in place to protect the waters from pollution and mistreatment.
This National Park is also famous for its urbanism and its extremely small size. It was formed to protect the small area of hot mineral water, and the history around it sets it apart.
What is the best month to visit Hot Springs National Park?
The best month to visit Hot Springs National Park is arguably either October or February.
These months are less popular for hoards of tourists and make the small space more manageable to explore.
They are also slightly cooler without being too cold, although February is still in the winter season. This chilly weather makes the hot spring baths available in the park even more enjoyable in contrast.
If you expect to do more water-oriented activities in the lakes surrounding this National Park, then you should visit during the hotter summer months.
What to do in Hot Springs National Park?
How many days do I need in Hot Springs National Park?
1 day (short trip)
Hot Springs National Park is one of the smallest National Parks in America. Although there is plenty of interests to experience in the town of Hot Springs that is surrounded by the borders of the National Park, it does not take much time to get through it all.
If you don’t have a lot of time or would like to stop by this park on the way to another destination, one day should be enough. Use this day to stroll along Bathhouse Row and the Grand Promenade.
Take a bath in the hot springs and shop on the streets to find a souvenir.
3 days (long trip)
Three days for a trip to Hot Springs National Park is enough to incorporate a day of sightseeing, a day of hiking, and a final day of spa and relaxation.
Take time on the first day to take in the history and cultural significance surrounding this National Park, one of the first in the country. On the second day, you can either group many smaller hikes together or take a hike around the entire park by trekking along Sunset Trail.
Blow off some steam and relax from your efforts on the third day. There are many spas in Hot Springs that utilize the hot mineral waters from underground and have many massages and facial treatments to choose from to complete your stay.
How to get to Hot Springs National Park?
- Hot Springs Memorial Field (HOT) is a small airport laid out on 840 acres that directly serves the National Park and its surrounding area. It is mostly used as a passenger plane airport but has 85 hangars of various types. There are rental cars and shuttle buses that take you into the town from the airport.
- Little Rock National Airport (LIT), or Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, is the largest airport in Arkansas. There is one other large airport in Arkansas, but it is not close enough to be as convenient. There is a shuttle service that you can use to get to the National Park since it is less than an hour away.
- Interstate 30. This primary highway leading to the National Park is used when coming from Little Rock, which is one of the most common directions travelers use. If you arrive from Texas, you will get on Interstate 30 E to take you to the entrance of Hot Springs. You will have to exit the interstate and use small highways before getting there, but that part of the trip often lasts less than an hour.
- Interstate 40 E is the main highway to use when arriving from Fort Smith. It is the primary road you will use before getting off onto Highway 270 and continuing for most of the duration of your trip.
- Route AR 10. For those travelers who prefer not to use the Interstates when they travel long distances, use Route AR 10 from Forth Smith. It doesn’t take much more time and allows you to take more of a scenic route than a traffic-centric route on an Interstate.
- Bus. The Greyhound bus still has routes running to Hot Springs. The bus will take you right into the main portion of the center and, therefore, into the heart of the National Park. You will need to check out the bus line service and schedule to figure out where the nearest stop is for you.
- Train. The Amtrak’s Texas Eagle route comes right through Little Rock, Arkansas. From this area, you can rent a rental car or take another form of public transportation to get to Hot Springs, Arkansas.
- Shuttle service from Little Rock, Arkansas. There is a shuttle service that runs from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Hot Springs National Park. During the peak season, it will run more often than not.
What to see in Hot Springs National Park?
Fordyce bathhouse is one of the partially functioning bathhouses and functions as the Visitor Center for Hot Springs National Park. Pick up souvenirs, maps, and learn more about the park’s history here.
Bathhouse Row is the main street that runs through Hot Springs. It features most of the tourist attractions based on the historical buildings on the street. In years gone by, bathhouse row was the primary site for the famed bathhouses that people would visit the hot springs.
Now, most of them have been renovated to suit other purposes, and the street is an eclectic mix of businesses for tourists.
Grand Promenade is the area right behind Bathhouse Row. You have to climb up sets of stairs or walk up a ramp to reach it. It is a beautifully landscaped area with fountains that use the hot mineral water from the springs.
Sunset Trail is one of the more popular trails in the park. It is the longest trail you can do in the entire park, and it is often done by piecing together other trails.
Superior Bathhouse Brewery
Hot Springs National Park is one of the only parks that host a brewery within its boundaries. This brewery is unique since the owners brew their beer using the natural mineral water from the springs.
The Gangster Museum is a great place to visit with a family. It walks you through some of the most interesting years in the National Park before it was firmly established as a National Park. Many famous mobsters visited and relaxed in this area before it became such a popular tourist attraction.
Hot Springs Mountain Tower
Hot Springs Mountain is a peak with a higher elevation within the park. The tower found at the top increases this exponentially and allows any visitor to take in the beauty of the city and surrounding mountains via the observation decks.
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.