There must be something in the water. The thermal water in Hot Springs National Park is nearly 4,000-years-old! Originating as rainfall during the same era the Great Pyramids were being built, this world-famous water makes a 4,000+ year journey through the Earth and runs freely into our incredibly unique destination. Named for these thermal springs, Hot Springs National Park is a curious town, with a wild and widely-celebrated history and an array of experiences that you just won’t find anywhere else.
In 1921, Hot Springs, Arkansas was designated as the 18th National Park. However, it's these famous waters that made the area the first federal conservation reservation in 1832 by the United States Congress which removed the lands from privatization under existing land disposal and mineral laws.
Are there outdoor springs to soak in? No, there are not. However, since the mid-19th century, bathhouses have been a staple of Hot Springs, Arkansas, as a way for visitors to experience the region's famous spring water. This tradition still carries on today in Hot Springs National Park.
It was believed that soaking in these famous waters benefited diseases of the skin and blood, nervous affections, rheumatism and kindred diseases, lung diseases, acute and inflammatory diseases and so much more. The earliest bathing procedure consisted of dipping briefly in the hot springs and the immediately into cool creek water. The first bathhouses were crude structures of canvas and lumber, little more than tents perched over individual springs or reservoirs carved out of the rock. During the 1820s crude vapor baths stood over the springs, and bathers breathed in the vapors for extended periods of time. Wooden tubs were added in the 1830's and physicians began arriving in the 1850's.
Starting in 1896, many of the wooden bathhouses were replaced with the bathhouses that we see today made of masonry and steel. The first Hale Bathhouse, built in 1841 by John C. Hale, was the first to provide more than just a bath as a service.
The Buckstaff Bathhouse is one of the eight remaining bathhouses that were built over natural hot springs in Bathhouse Row. It is one of only two that remain open for bathing today. The Buckstaff Bathhouse hot springs spa has been in continuous operation since opening our doors in 1912 and the only ones offering a full traditional bathing experience.
The Quapaw Bathhouse closed in 1984, however, it was the first to be leased for adaptive reuse. It reopened as a family-oriented modern spa with historical touches in June 2008 and continues to provide services today, including private bathing experiences and a menu of spa services.
The Quapaw Bathhouse notably consists of four public thermal pools, each adjusted to various temperatures depending on your comfort level. Guests must wear proper swim attire and all plastic or rubber slip-on shoes on all tile floors. Cut-offs, t-shirts, tank tops, athletic shorts, athletic tops, thongs, and undergarments are not permitted. For all services, individuals must be 14 and older. Youths between the ages of 14 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Hotel Hale was originally the Hale Bathhouse and is the oldest structure on Bathhouse Row, being built in 1892. It was recently remodeled into a historic boutique, luxury hotel with a mid-century modern style and soaking tubs in every room. The thermal water of Hot Springs National Park is pumped into the bathtubs in each of their nine hotel rooms and provides guests with the opportunity to try out Hot Springs' famous baths without ever having to leave the comfort of their hotel room.
The Arlington Beauty & Facial Salon offers a full array of salon and spa services in one convenient location. In additional to traditional spa services, a variety of skin and body treatments ranging from facials to full body wraps are available. The Arlington is also known for its Thermal Water Spa which allows guests to bathe in the hot spring water that is pumped directly into the hotel. The Thermal Water Spa is located on the third floor of the hotel. For more information, call 501-609-2514.
Is the water from hot springs good to drink? Of course! Go ahead, "quaff the elixir," as they used to say in the heyday of the spa. Thousands of visitors highly endorse the superior quality of the hot springs water and fill bottles to take home.
Click each fountain below to get mineral content provided by the Hot Springs National Park Service.
Hill Wheatley Plaza Located at 629 Central Ave.
Libbey Memorial Physical Medicine Center Located at 500 Reserve St.
National Park Service Administration Building Located at 101 Reserve St.
The Noble Fountain Located on Reserve St. at the south entrance of the Grand Promenade.
The Shell Fountain on the Stevens Balustrade Located between the Fordyce and the Maurice Bathhouses.
The Dripping Spring Located between the Hale and Maurice Bathhouses.
Happy Hollow Located at 231 Fountain St.
Whittington Spring Located between Quartz St. and West Mountain Drive on Whittington Ave.
Within the Park, there are 2 places where you can touch the thermal water. Even though the water comes out of the ground at 143° F, it is cool enough to touch by the time it reaches the pools.
This shallow pool flowing from the Grand Promenade is located directly behind the Maurice Bathhouse. Shaded by trees, surrounded by mosses and blue-green algae, this is a great place to relax and listen to the sounds of running water.
Located at Northern end of Historic Bathhouse Row on the Arlington Lawn. This is the largest and most visible spring in Hot Springs National Park, and definitely the most iconic. The hot water emanates from the hill side near the Grand Promenade and flows under the path, down a steep cliff into two pools.