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“City meets National Park: Far more than meets the eye”

Hot Springs National Park
Ranked #11 of 84 things to do in Hot Springs
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 4 April 2018

First, we went without having any preconceived notions about what we'd find in Hot Springs NP, which worked out well. I noticed from some other comments that people seemed surprised this was not a vast park. The Parks Service serves to protect national heritage and that can be a monument, a series of monuments (like the National Mall or the C&O Canal in Washington, DC), etc.

Hot Springs NP has a visitor center in the Fordyce Bathhouse, which gives a person as sense of what the bathhouse culture was like decades ago, and how hot springs are formed. The building itself is exquisite from the outside. The neighboring bathhouses are also fascinating from the outside. And yes, the town butts right up against it all - which we found fun.

I loved the people watching. We went on an Easter weekend, the weather was gorgeous and people seemed in good spirits. The buildings across the street also have some fascinating architecture if you look up beyond the ground floor.

The park itself stretches 8 square miles Near the bathhouses is an entrance to the park (in between the bathhouses and the Arlington Hotel) where you can see some hot 'springlets' and do a series of short hikes (0.2 miles each).

There are also spots where you can drive for views - up each of the 'mountains' (there are several spots to stop on the Western Mountain and there is a tower on the other side. We walked up to it but didn't go in.

If you are more ambitious, we also did a longer 9 mile hike, which started at the top of the Western Mountain loop (free parking). **We used GPS but also referred to the free map we got from the NPS staff at the Fordyce Bathhouse.**

From the parking lot you follow the Sunset Trail west, and then gradually loop north and east, until you reach the Cedar Glades Road. From there you walk downhill back into town, passing some beautiful homes and lilac trees. After a short walk on the main road (where we stopped for a iced latte), we walked back uphill, taking the path of a carriage road from the 1800s, winding our way back to the car. We had a grand time hiking, finding many beautiful blooms, enjoying the views. Sure you aren't far from town but you do get away from it all.

(Both the shorter and longer hikes were dog friendly - we brought ours on leash)

1  Thank K_whirled_travels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"visitor center"
in 64 reviews
"bathhouse row"
in 112 reviews
"bath house"
in 60 reviews
"fordyce bathhouse"
in 46 reviews
"hiking trails"
in 25 reviews
"middle of town"
in 9 reviews
"observation tower"
in 20 reviews
"west mountain"
in 15 reviews
"grand promenade"
in 22 reviews
"downtown area"
in 17 reviews
"spring water"
in 22 reviews
"water bottles"
in 9 reviews
"welcome center"
in 7 reviews
"arlington hotel"
in 16 reviews
"interesting history"
in 15 reviews
"central ave"
in 9 reviews
"self guided tour"
in 15 reviews
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53 - 57 of 664 reviews

Reviewed 3 April 2018

This is a "national park" for people who do not want to get out and explore outdoors. Some history involved, but such a tourist trap layout.

1  Thank Michelle T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 April 2018

the majority of the bath houses are closed. there is one open for tours, operated by the National park service, and one that is in operation. a bit too pricey for me though. another of the bath houses has been turned into a craft brewery. it was VERY busy during my stay, and didnot get a chance to have a beer, but it looked nice. another bath house was being renovated, and a couple were for lease.

Thank Craig B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2018

Not much left of the hot springs...he visitor center was interesting but difficult to park as it is on a busy street downtown.

Thank Jackie57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 April 2018

Not your typical National park. Great informative displays with pictures and videos to give you insight into the area and the hot springs. Nice that they were able to restore the bathhouse so people can see what it was like when they were in their heyday.

Thank duhkluck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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