Bathhouse Row: A Must-See in Hot Springs National Park
If you are a full-time RVer or a weekend adventure lover, there will be a time when you need a spa day…or a spa week. We found the place to soak your worries away in Arkansas. You need to plan a visit to Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park.
Let’s dive in!
A National Park with Spa Services
When you think of a National Park, you often dream of hiking, photography, biking, and maybe kayaking. It is not often that you think of spa treatments and a cold pint of craft beer while visiting the park.
But, we have found a magical place that combines a love of adventure with soothing thermal waters, a cold beer, and modern spa services. You can find it all at Hot Springs National Park.
You can plan a day visit or enjoy all the regional attractions during a week-long stay. Keep reading, and we will tell you about two of our favorite places to camp.
A Historic Visit at Hot Springs National Park
You will want to start your visit at the Fordyce Bathhouse Museum. Pick up a trail map and learn the history of the park, named a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
In addition to an established trail system and mountain views, the thermal water, naturally heated to 143F, is the park’s real star. The ancient thermal springs have been a lure to the region for generations. In the 20th Century, the area was known as “America’s Spa.” From 1892 to 1923, what is now the park was dotted with nine historic bathhouses. Today, you can still visit several of the bathhouses, and we did.
The experience varies at each bathhouse, with two providing spa services. And you can enjoy a cold beer with a full-service restaurant menu at one. Follow along as we visit three of the historic bathhouses, and enjoy one of those cold beers.
We first visit Buskstaff Bathhouse, built in 1912. It is the only park bathhouse to be in continuous operation for over a Century. They use the natural hot spring water, without additives, to offer an array of spa services. The “Traditional Bath Package” is the most popular. As you plan your visit to Hot Springs National Park, pre-book an afternoon at Buckstaff Bathhouse. You can pre-book spa treatments on their website.
We also explored Quapaw Bathhouse. Be sure to take a photo of the tiled dome. This bathhouse offers private baths but also has a public hot spring pool. It is a great place to visit after a long hike or bike ride in the park.
Being lovers of craft beer, we ended our tour of the bathhouses with a stop at Superior Bathhouse. This bathhouse was built in 1916 and is now the only brewery in a US National Park.
You guessed it…they use the natural thermal water to craft their beer. You can enjoy either a flight or a cold pint of their beer on-site. This bathhouse is family-friendly and includes a full restaurant menu. We found it to be the perfect last stop of the day. Check out their menu and tap-off the end of your day here too.
Where to Camp Near Hot Springs, Arkansas
At Gulpha Gorge Campground, you can camp inside the national park. This campground is open and staffed year-round with RV and tent camping sites. As a bonus, the RV sites are Full Hook-Up, and there is a cell phone signal.
This is a National Park, where you can also work from your site if needed. It is a bargain for $30/night.
We also enjoyed Catherine’s Landing RV Resort. Sites include RV, tent, yurts, and cottages. Take a boat ride on the lake, rent a kayak, or swim in the saline pool. At this resort, you are also close to area amenities such as wineries, hiking, and golf.
Plan your Relaxation
If you need to take a break from the road at a National Park that feels like a spa vacation, put
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas on your list. It’s a year-round retreat. Along the way, be sure to check out some of our other favorite National Parks on our blog.
PRO TIP: If you’re looking for more local activities, here’s our list of 21 things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Discover Free Camping in Arkansas and Across the USA
To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy). You should give it a try! As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours.
Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.
Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
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