EXPLORING HOT SPRINGS, AR



THURSDAY

TRAVEL DAY
YEAR #2 - STOP #60



I love it when a plan works out! We are arriving here at Gulpha Gorge Campground in the Hot Springs National Park without reservations. This is one of the few National Park campgrounds that do not accept reservations, all 44 sites are First-Come-First-Serve. Knowing that, here is how we planned to use that information in our favor.

Check out and check in time are both noon! 18 of the 44 sites here back up to a babbling brook. Only 11 of those are without vegetation or trees blocking your view and access. So in order to increase our chances of scoring one of the eleven prime spots we planned our arrival for 11:00AM.

Most campers tend to vacate their campsite between 8-11AM. We had to leave our previous campsite a little earlier than normal, but we managed to pull into the new campground at 11:15AM. We were pleased to find we had our choice of two of the eleven prime sites. We got backed into our site and at exactly noon we were at the Automated Ranger Check-In Kiosk with our credit card and secured our site for the next four days.


Like I said, I love it when a plan works out!


Our prime view out our rear window

After securing our site we immediately struck out to explore the area. There are two scenic mountain view drives in Hot Springs, one on each side of Bathhouse Row. At the top of the first drive is the 216 foot tall Hot Springs Mountain Tower. For just $5 (with the lifetime senior pass) an elevator will take you to the top deck where you can see all of Hot Springs, AR.

The campground is located just to the left of the highway

Bathhouse Row located between the two mountains

Heavily forested area north of the tower

A view of the tower from the second scenic drive



SUNDAY - Well it's our last day here in Hot Springs and so far we have walked and driven around to see the hot springs and surrounding area. We even filled up two one gallon jugs to later taste the mineral water that is dispensed free at several roadside fountains around town. But a visit to Hot Springs National Park wouldn't be complete if you didn't actually experience a mineral bath in one of the bathhouses.

So last night we called to scheduled a 20-minute private mineral bath for two, followed by a 20-minute steam cave experience to finish off our visit here. We were a little disappointed that our mineral bath was in a modern day whirlpool tub instead of one of the old cast iron tubs we saw in the museum. The steam cave felt authentic enough with the 143 degree water flowing out of the side of a rock wall in a tiny room just big enough to hold 3 couples.


HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK



The Fordyce Bathhouse and Museum also houses the Hot Springs National Park's Visitor Center
Throughout you'll fine intricate moziac tile work
A 1920s era bath tub
A 1920s shower surround
A sitzbath and steam chamber were popular in the 1920s
Inside of the mens shower room
The stained glass ceiling in the mens shower room
Next door to the museum is the Quapaw Baths and Spa
This is where we had our mineral bath and steam cave experience
The Grand Promenade located behind the bathhouse buildings
A hot spring bubbling out of the rocks along the walkway
A glimpse of some wildlife we saw along the walkway


So ends our visit to Hot Springs National Park
It's definitely not your ordinary National Park experience.





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4 comments:

  1. I like the maps you’ve added to the end! Fun to see where you’ve stayed and for how long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Just another fun fact we like to keep track of.

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  2. Just curious, wouldn't it be better to do the cave first and then the bath? Not so sticky then? Never been there so not sure what the cave is like temperature and humidity wise. Love reading your adventures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would have been our preferred sequence too but since we waited until the last minute to make our reservations we had to take what was available. We were able to get a nice cooling shower in the locker/dressing rooms before changing back into our street clothes.

      FYI - The steam cave temperature was 107°F with 100% humidity.

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