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Hot Springs National Park

In the picturesque Ouachita (WASH-i-taw) Mountains, Hot Springs differs sharply from the country's other scenic national parks in that portions of it are nearly surrounded by a sizable city. Its 5,500 acres occupy the slopes of Hot Springs, Music, North, West, Sugarloaf and Indian mountains.

The thermal water that flows from the springs is naturally sterile. It begins as rainwater, is absorbed into the mountains northeast of the park and is carried 4,000-8,000 feet underground, where the earth's extreme heat raises its temperature to 143 F. The purified water makes its way back to the surface through cracks and pores in the rock in the form of hot springs. The entire process takes about 4,000 years.

In 1832, because of tourism brought on by the water's reported medicinal properties, the federal government set aside the springs and surrounding area as the country's first park-type federal reservation. In 1921 Hot Springs became a national park, the country's eighteenth. Numerous bathhouses, eight of which still stand along a portion of Central Avenue known as Bathhouse Row, catered to thousands of health seekers. The popularity of the springs began to decrease in the 1950s, but the springs still attract many visitors.

General Information

The springs are found along the west slope of Hot Springs Mountain. Within about 10 acres there are 47 springs with a daily flow of approximately 750,000 gallons. The water is collected into one central system and distributed to bathhouses and the drinking and jug fountains near the corner of Central and Reserve. The standard tub baths can be taken at the Buckstaff Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row. Options, at no extra cost, include showers, sitz tubs, vapor cabinets and hot packs. You can also experience the hot spring water in a modern day spa setting at the Quapaw Baths and Spa, the only business that uses the spring water in pools.

Other bathhouses in the city are managed in connection with hotels; prices vary according to equipment and available accommodations.

The park has 10 miles of good mountain roads for sightseeing by car, as well as 26 miles of walking and horse trails for outdoor enthusiasts; the trails are open daily year-round. Interpretive programs are presented from mid-June to mid-August; phone for schedule. Note: Because of sharp switchbacks, vehicles more than 30 feet long cannot negotiate Hot Springs Mountain Drive.

Fall and spring offer displays of flowering trees, shrubs and colorful foliage. Nearby Catherine, Hamilton and Ouachita lakes offer fishing.


ADMISSION to the park is free.


PETS are permitted in the park only if they are leashed, crated or otherwise physically restricted at all times. Pets are not permitted in park buildings.


ADDRESS inquiries to the Park Superintendent, 101 Reserve St., Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901; phone (501) 620-6715 for Fordyce Visitor Center.

Points of Interest


Display Hot Water Springs

Hot Springs Mountain Observation Tower

Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center

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