We drove through Hot Springs a couple of days ago but couldn’t find a place to park the RV while we explored. When asked what I wanted for my 45th birthday, I knew right away: Let’s go back to Hot Springs!
Hot Springs National Park is our only urban park. I think it’s very unique in that it not only explores a beautiful natural area but also a long past culture. It’s a little disappointing that most of the springs are now covered up by green metal boxes but you can still see a few of them.
When we arrived at the visitor center we jumped right into a ranger led tour. We’ve enjoyed every park ranger at each of the parks we’ve visited but this one shot to the top of our favorites list. She was a hoot and kept us laughing throughout the very interesting Fordyce Bathhouse. She was an older lady who did not dress in park ranger clothes but in the attire of someone who would have visited Hot Springs in its day. She told Jenna that you really don’t start living until you turn 80. Her excitement and energy made us believers! Because of her presentation, we won’t soon forget all that we learned at this National Park.
We felt like we stepped back in time as we walked down Bathhouse Row and walked the grounds behind the Fordyce Bathhouse. The many magnolia trees, even though not in bloom, added to the beauty. We took the very steep and winding drive up Hot Springs Mountain where we took the elevator to the top of the observation tower. The tower has a lot of information about the history of the area. I read some of it but the views of the Ozark Mountains draped in fall colors were far too distracting. The girls especially fell in love with a little mama raccoon that frequents outside the gift shop of the observation tower. After returning to downtown Hot Springs, we bought some plastic jugs to fill with fresh spring water.
You can’t visit Hot Springs without seeing many reminders that this was President Bill Clinton’s boyhood home. We drove past the small and unassuming house in which he grew up. Tours aren’t available as a family lives there.
So, did we take baths in Hot Springs? We did not even though there are some bathhouses that are still open for business. The beautiful weather and trails of Hot Springs Mountain were far to inviting!
(We will be adding pictures to this post and others as we have time. Please check back.)