Hot Springs Overview

Hot Springs National Park, renowned for its therapeutic hot springs, is an American treasure with a rich history and unique natural features. Situated in central Arkansas, within the city of Hot Springs, this national park covers about 5,550 acres (approximately 22.48 square kilometers). It is unique among the United States National Parks for its urban setting, allowing visitors to experience both natural wonders and the amenities of the city. Established as a federal reserve in 1832 and later designated as a national park in 1921, it holds the distinction of being among the oldest of the federal reserves and national parks in the U.S. system.

The heart of the park is the famed Bathhouse Row, a collection of historic bathhouse buildings that tap into the naturally heated spring water. These waters have been believed to possess healing properties for thousands of years, a tradition that dates back to Native American tribes who first discovered the springs. Today, visitors can still bathe in the rejuvenating waters, much like people have done for centuries.

Hot Springs National Park is more than just its thermal waters. The area is surrounded by picturesque mountains, offering numerous hiking trails that provide stunning views and a chance to explore the lush, diverse ecosystems of the Ouachita Mountains. The park’s landscape includes beautiful forests, creeks, and scenic vistas that attract nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

In addition to its natural attractions, the park’s historical significance is palpable, with a rich cultural heritage encompassing everything from early Native American inhabitants to notorious gangsters of the 20th century who frequented the area for relaxation and recreation. Hot Springs National Park thus offers a unique blend of natural beauty, historical richness, and cultural significance, making it a fascinating destination for visitors from around the world.

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Park Map
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Hot Springs National Park Highlights

A Steamy History

Explore the historic Bathhouse Row, a collection of elegant bathhouses dating back to the early 20th century. Take a leisurely stroll along the row and admire the beautiful architecture of these iconic buildings, which reflect the opulence and grandeur of the era.

Visit the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center to learn about the history of the area and its significance as a spa destination. Some bathhouses still offer traditional spa services, allowing visitors to soak in the therapeutic thermal waters and experience a taste of the past.

Hot Springs National Park Pictures

Engaging Hot Springs National Park

Discover the natural beauty of Hot Springs National Park by hiking its network of scenic trails. Choose from easy strolls to challenging treks, with options for all skill levels. Explore winding trails that lead through lush forests, past sparkling streams, and to panoramic overlooks with stunning views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains.

Popular hikes include the Sunset Trail, which offers breathtaking vistas at sunset, and the Goat Rock Trail, which leads to a dramatic rock outcrop overlooking the valley below. Hiking in Hot Springs National Park provides opportunities to connect with nature and experience the tranquility of the outdoors.

Indulge in a day of relaxation and rejuvenation at one of the spa resorts or bathhouses in Hot Springs National Park.

Treat yourself to a luxurious spa treatment, such as a massage, facial, or mineral bath, using the park’s natural thermal waters renowned for their healing properties. Many spas offer a range of services tailored to your needs, allowing you to unwind and de-stress amidst the tranquil surroundings of the park.

Whether you’re seeking pampering and self-care or therapeutic relief from aches and pains, a spa day in Hot Springs National Park offers a blissful retreat for body and mind.

Hot Springs National Park Trails

Hot Springs Mountain Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.7 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 300 feet (91 meters)

Description: This trail offers a peaceful hike through mixed hardwood forests to the top of Hot Springs Mountain. Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains from the observation tower at the summit. The trail is well-maintained, making it suitable for most fitness levels.

Sunset Trail

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: 10 miles round trip with varying elevation gain

Description: The Sunset Trail is the park’s longest and most diverse trail, traversing through several different ecosystems. Highlights include West Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Balanced Rock. The trail offers scenic vistas, rocky outcrops, and, in spring, a variety of wildflowers. It’s a rewarding challenge for more experienced hikers.

Grand Promenade Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.1 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This paved path offers a leisurely walk behind Bathhouse Row, providing insights into the park’s historic core. The trail is accessible and features educational displays about the area’s thermal springs and historic architecture. It’s a perfect option for families and those looking for a casual stroll.

Goat Rock Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 200 feet (61 meters)

Description: Leading to a unique rock formation known as Goat Rock, this trail provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The path meanders through a forested area, offering a serene hiking experience and the opportunity to observe local flora and fauna.

Gulpha Gorge Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.6 miles one way with an elevation gain of about 150 feet (46 meters)

Description: This short but steep trail connects the Gulpha Gorge campground with the Hot Springs Mountain trails. Hikers can enjoy the sounds of Gulpha Creek alongside the trail, making for a picturesque ascent or descent through lush, wooded terrain. It’s a great connector trail for those looking to explore multiple areas of the park.


1. What is Hot Springs National Park known for?

Hot Springs National Park, located in Arkansas, is known for its natural thermal springs, historic bathhouses, and scenic beauty. The park’s primary attraction is the hot springs themselves, which emerge from the base of Hot Springs Mountain at a temperature of 143°F (62°C).

These thermal waters have long been revered for their supposed healing properties and have attracted visitors seeking relaxation and rejuvenation for centuries. The park is also known for its historic Bathhouse Row, a collection of elegant bathhouses built in the early 20th century, which reflect the opulence and grandeur of the era.

Additionally, Hot Springs National Park offers opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, picnicking, and scenic drives, allowing visitors to explore the park’s diverse landscapes and soak in its natural beauty.

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  • Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
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  • Hot Springs Mountain Tower, official site,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
  • National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
  • National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
  • National Park Service, Hot Springs,, retrieved April 2024.