Hot Springs boasts an incredible national park, but what most people come to explore is the town’s famous thermal waters.
We can’t think of a better way to relax than a warm soak in hundreds of acres of old-growth forest. These natural spas are also some of the most pristine geothermal pools in the country.
If you want to know more about how to enjoy these healing waters best, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn more about this amazing place in Arkansas.
Let’s jump in!
About Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs, Arkansas, isn’t necessarily the first destination that comes to mind for traveling. But this bustling city with a small-town feel is a great vacation spot.
The town shares a name with Hot Springs National Park, the first to be added to the US national parks system. You can find nearly 50 natural thermal pools within the borders and many others just outside of it. For centuries, local Indigenous people appreciated the warm ponds for their health and relaxation benefits. Today, you can partake in a relaxing soak by visiting Bathhouse Row.
But that’s not the only attraction drawing folks to this peaceful mountain city. You’ll also find great restaurants, shops, and a thriving art scene. The town also boasts a casino and even a water park.
Where Is Hot Springs, Arkansas?
Hot Springs is nestled in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. The range is nearly 230 miles long and runs east to west across Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Ouachita National Forest, which contains both hardwood and pine forests, surrounds it. It accounts for almost two million acres of timberland and wildlife.
This region is also known for the Diamond Lakes system. The five large lakes offer thousands of miles of shoreline. Fishing, hunting, and water sports are popular pastimes in the southwest part of the state. You can even go scuba diving and boating.
Can You Drink the Water in Hot Springs?
You might be surprised to learn that you can drink the spring water in Hot Springs. In fact, people have been using it for hundreds of years. It’s even encouraged by the city. The town even has a public fountain, the Hot Springs Jug Fountain, that’s fed directly from the source.
It’s not just the citizens of Hot Springs that love it. Superior Bathhouse Brewery even uses it to make beers. They operate from an old spa constructed in 1916. When it closed in the 1980s, the team jumped at the chance to make the building their headquarters.
Superior is the only beer maker worldwide that uses geothermal waters in brew recipes. They’re also the only one operating out of a national park.
For the kids (and young at heart): Hot Springs National Park Activity Book.
Can You Swim in the Hot Springs at Hot Springs National Park?
What could be more relaxing than bathing in a natural hot spring?
Not so fast! Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. At the source, the water in the springs is too scalding to swim in. You could burn or injure yourself in the process.
The good news is that you can relish a soak from one of Hot Springs National Park’s bathhouses. Enjoy a beer at Superior before heading to Buckstaff or Quapaw inside the park. Both are open year-round and offer spa services like massage, skin treatments, and even beauty services.
Of course, you can also simply take a relaxing bath. The bathhouses allow the water to cool to warm yet safe temperatures for visitors.
Get more details: Finally, A National Park That Offers Spa Days & Beer on Tap.
Best Hikes Near Hot Springs, Arkansas
The town’s location makes it absolutely perfect for hiking. You’ll find no shortage of gorgeous trails and paths among the peaceful Ouachita Mountains. We have two favorite hikes near idyllic Hot Springs.
Grand Promenade is next to Bathhouse Row, making it the perfect post-spring bath hike. At just over half a mile, it’s a very easy route paved with bricks. You’ll find plenty of benches and tables where you can relax. Or you could even play a game at one of the built-in chess tables.
Grand Promenade is popular, so expect to see other folks on your journey. Bring your pups if you want, but keep them on a leash.
Lower Dogwood Trail
You’ll find Lower Dogwood Trail within Hot Springs National Park. This loop path is 1.7 miles long and a popular spot for hikers, bird-watchers, and runners. The route takes about an hour to complete. It’ll lead you up a mountain, but the grade is gentle enough that most hikers consider it an easy trek.
This spot is open year-round, and leashed pets are welcome.
Best Camping Near Hot Springs
There’s no shortage of lush trees and clear, pristine water in Hot Springs. We’ve also found plenty of fantastic camping options in this area.
Gulpha Gorge is one of the Hot Springs area’s most scenic and serene campgrounds. It sits within a forested portion of the national park, nestled next to Gulpha Creek. You’ll enjoy the tall, peaceful trees and the soothing sound of water.
The campground is a multi-purpose space used for more than just camping. You’ll also find an outdoor amphitheater and an artist-in-residence cabin reserved for artists in the Arts in the Parks program.
Gulpha Gorge offers full hookups, water and sewer access, flush restrooms, a dump station, and trash service. Each campsite has its own picnic table. This campground is ADA-accessible and pet-friendly, and reservations start at $34 per night.
Catherine’s Landing is another fantastic spot nearby. Part rustic campground, part RV park, and resort, you’ll find all kinds of fun activities here.
You can rent one of the charming onsite cottages if you need a break from your rig. And if you’re traveling with the whole family, kids can take advantage of playground areas and a saltwater pool.
Catherine’s Landing offers full hookups, sewer access, restrooms and showers, trash service, and laundry machines. Each campsite has its own fire ring and picnic table. The campground also has a general store, game room, recreation hall, and dog run. Reservations start at $7 per night.
Discover more: 21 Things To Do In Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Prepare for The Best Host Springs Experience
A soak in Hot Springs should be on every RVer’s summer destination list. You couldn’t pick a better place to get some rest and relaxation.
This mountain city is one of the South’s hidden gems. And with its many bathhouses, hiking trails, and serene campgrounds, this is the perfect place to get back to nature.
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