It’s all about water at Hot Springs National Park—thermal water with an average temperature of 143 degrees (62 degrees C). This spot is as unique as national parks go in the sense that it surrounds a city, the north end of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Known to American Indians as early as the 1700s and explored by a team sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore after the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s, it didn’t take long for the town and Bathhouse Row to grow around the famed thermal waters. The town became known as the “American Spa,” and visitors came from near and far not only to soak up the reputed health benefits of the warm water, but to also drink from the park’s cold springs.
Along with visiting the historic Fordyce Bathhouse, visitors can also treat themselves to a traditional bath or more modern spa-style experience. The park collects 700,000 gallons of water every day to use in drinking fountains and bathhouses.
Hot Springs National Park is in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas. The Park Visitor Center and Museum is inside the Fordyce Bathhouse, which is part of Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue. The Visitor Center is open year-round, except for a few holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Self-guided tours are available daily, and depending on staffing, guided tours may also be a possibility. About 60 miles away, Little Rock National Airport is the closest major airport.