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Back to Nature | Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

Stay Awhile

Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs is a natural oasis with thermal springs, glistening lakes, and federally protected forests – making it the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts. See the itinerary below to enjoy a nature retreat you won’t find anywhere else. 


Day 1 - Bathhouse Row

Pop a tent or park your RV at Gulpha Gorge Campground, the only campground in Hot Springs National Park and just a short drive (or hike) to Downtown Hot Springs. Situated along the bank of the Gulpha Creek at the base of North Mountain, this scenic spot has 40 sites with full hookups. (Reservations are required.) During the warmer months, take a dip in the cool water of Gulpha Creek. If you're looking for a scenic overlook close to camp, cross the creek and head up to Goat Rock Overlook for a moderate hike to an incredible view of the Ouachita Mountains.

For a natural setting with modern amenities, make plans to stay at Catherine’s Landing, a serene hideaway situated on 400 wooded acres along Lake Catherine. Located just five minutes outside of Hot Springs, the property offers onsite activities with a pool, kayak and boat rentals, and ziplining! And if camping is too rustic, book one of the cottages or yurts for a glamping experience instead.

Once you’ve settled in, head downtown to stroll Bathhouse Row and the Grand Promenade. Enjoy the scenery with beautiful architecture around every corner. Visit Arlington Lawn at the end of Bathhouse Row to feel the temperature of the thermal water, and learn about Hot Springs’ history as an elegant spa at the Fordyce Bathhouse. If time allows, follow one of the trails up the mountain for an unforgettable hiking experience. Trail maps are available at The Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and Museum. Afterwards, enjoy farm-to-table fare and beer brewed with our namesake thermal springs at Superior Bathhouse Brewery. Located in a former bathhouse, it is the first brewery headquartered in a U.S. national park and the only brewery in the world to use thermal spring water as its main ingredient.


Day 2 - Hiking

Lace up your boots and hit the trails! Hot Springs offers easy access to hundreds of miles of trails of all levels of difficulty including a wide variety right in our backyard. There are 26 miles of trails in Hot Springs National Park, many of which are accessible from downtown, and over 30 miles of trails in the Northwoods Trail System, just five minutes away. A premier mountain biking destination, the Northwoods is also popular with hikers and nature lovers for its scenic lake views and natural beauty. There are also nice day hikes at Lake Ouachita State Park, Lake Catherine State Park, and within the Ouachita National Forest. A 1.8-million-acre swath of land covering west-central Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, the Ouachita National Forest has over 50 trails! Check out the Little Blakely Trail System, comprising five different loop trails, and Hunt's Loop Trail, a four-mile loop trail.

Be sure to fuel up before you go! Skip the flapjacks and opt for one of the “healthyish” menu items from Kollective Coffee + Tea, such as the Huevo Ranchero. Or make plans to visit the Hot Springs Farmers Market during your stay for eggs, produce, baked goods and other farm fresh foods. The market is open on Saturday mornings. After your hike, replenish all those lost calories on the patio at Taco Mama, a local favorite serving authentic handmade Mexican food and delicious margaritas!


Day 3 - Mountain Biking

The mountains surrounding Hot Springs offer world-class mountain biking with three IMBA Epic Rides and the expansive Northwoods Trails System. A premier mountain biking destination with over 30 miles of crisscrossing trails, the Northwoods is just a five minute ride from downtown but feels worlds away. Enjoy the quiet solitude of the forest as your tires bounce along purpose-built trails past scenic views of lakes Bethel, Dillon and Sanderson. Trails are marked according to their degrees of difficulty: Green for beginner, blue for intermediate, and black for advanced riders. Fuel up before you go with coffee at Red Light Roastery or Kollective Coffee + Tea.

The area’s IMBA Epic Rides include The Womble Trail, a 37-mile trail through the Ouachita National Forest; the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail, a 45-mile trail that follows the shoreline of Lake Ouachita; and the Ouachita National Recreational Trail, the longest bike trail in Arkansas. Currently, 137 miles of the 192 mile trail are open to mountain biking. Reward yourself afterwards with some down-home cooking and a slice of homemade pie from Shangri La Resort in Mount Ida!

If mountain biking sounds a bit too daunting, enjoy a paved ride along the Hot Springs Creek Greenway, or a water tasting bike tour through downtown with Hot Springs Bicycle Touring Co. Wherever you go, you’ll feel like a kid again when you explore the great outdoors from the seat of your bike!


Day 4 - Take the Waters

You’ll be feeling all that physical activity today! Soothe those tired muscles with a soak in Hot Springs’ therapeutic thermal waters. There are 47 active springs around the base of Hot Springs Mountain which pump out about 700,000 gallons of water per day at an average temperature of 143 degrees. A gift from Mother Nature, the springs have been revered for centuries, beginning with the Native Americans, and, later, the U.S. government. In 1832, before there was a National Park System, President Andrew Jackson signed legislation to protect the springs, creating Hot Springs Reservation, the first federally-protected land in the country. (Hot Springs attained National Park status in 1921.) Today, there are three spas where you can enjoy a dip in our namesake springs: Quapaw Baths & Spa, The Buckstaff Bathhouse, and the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa. The Buckstaff and the Arlington offer traditional, private baths, like those taken at the height of the bathing industry, while Quapaw Baths & Spa has four large public pools, as well as private bathing options. Stop by the Quapaw Cafe during your visit for a refreshing mimosa or a smoothie during your relaxing visit to the pools.


Day 5 - Dig For Crystals

The mountains surrounding Hot Springs produce some of the world’s finest quartz crystals including mammoth-size specimens that have made their way to museums, galleries and private collections all around the world! Various mines in nearby Jessieville and in Mount Ida provide the opportunity to dig for your own treasures! Ron Coleman Mining, located about 30 minutes from downtown Hot Springs, is one of the area’s most famous – renowned for its mammoth sized clusters. The public is invited to dig for crystals in dirt that has been excavated from the commercial mine, and you’re guaranteed to find enough quartz to cover the cost of digging or you will receive credit to use in their gift shop. Bring a pair of safety glasses, a pair of gloves, a small, sturdy shovel, a heavy duty screwdriver for prying out smaller pieces. Tools and safety gear are also available for purchase. You’ll also want to bring sunscreen, a hat, plenty of water, and snacks! End the day with dinner at 420eats, an outdoor food truck court with a variety of cuisines plus games, live music events, and an on-site restroom.

Featured Listings

Hot Springs National Park Gulpha Gorge Campground

501-620-6715 | 305 Gorge Road 71901

Superior Bathhouse Brewery

501-624-2337 | 329 Central Avenue 71901

Hot Springs Farmer's & Artisans Market

501-624-0489 | 121 Orange Street 71913

Hot Springs Bicycle Touring Company

501-276-2175 | 436 Broadway Street 71901

Red Light Roastery

501-318-8870 | 1003 Park Avenue 71901

Ron Coleman Mining Inc

800-291-4484 | 155 Crystal Ridge Ln 71949

Travel Tips

  • What to Wear

    Outdoor apparel and comfortable shoes for hiking/biking, a bathing suit for Quapaw Baths & Spa, and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty for crystal mining.

  • Best Time to Travel

    Spring and fall are especially beautiful times of year but you can enjoy the great outdoors in Hot Springs year round! 

     

  • How to Get Around

    By car, by bike and by foot.