When to Go
Year-round. Summers are hot and July is crowded. Try the late fall, when mountains around Hot Springs produce spectacular foliage. Winter is usually short and mild; four-petaled bluets, the first of many wildflowers, appear in February.
How to Get There
From Little Rock, about 55 miles west on I-30, US 70, and Ark. 7; from the south, Ark. 7; from the west, US 70 or US 270. Airport: Little Rock.
How to Visit
Walk Central Avenue's Bathhouse Row, then continue north to explore on the genteel trails of an urban hillside. To see the rugged side of the park, hike the woodland trails of Gulpha Gorge.
Where to Stay
Lodging Inside the Park:
Sites at Gulpha Gorge Campground are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Both basic sites and sites with hookups are available. There are restrooms, but no showers. Pets are allowed if leashed.
Lodging Outside the Park:
1890 Williams House Inn is a B&B located in Hot Springs’ historic district, five blocks from Bathhouse Row. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was the first B&B established in Arkansas. This Victorian home, complete with giant veranda, features such modern amenities as a jetted tub in each room.
Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa, a Hot Springs grande dame dating to 1924, was visited by six U.S. presidents, including both Roosevelts. Accommodations range from standard rooms to "historic suites," including Suite 442, named for a onetime regular, gangster Al Capone.
Lookout Point Lakeside Inn (Traveler Stay List pick, 2008) is a homey B&B overlooking Lake Hamilton, with a view of the Ouachita Mountains. Its arts-and-crafts-style architecture is topped off by wood floors and locally crafted oak furniture. Nature reigns here, with thermal hot springs, native-plant gardens, and hiking trails galore. The B&B offers mindfulness retreats and watercolor classes. For a breakfast treat, try the raspberry-stuffed French toast.
Bathing in thermal waters is not recommended for people with certain ailments; consult your doctor if in doubt. The only place to bathe in hot spring water is at the bathhouses.
Pets are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed.
Bicycles are only allowed on park roads or in parking areas; they are prohibited within the Bathhouse Row Historic District. The only parking is in the city of Hot Springs, at a large parking deck one block west of Bathhouse Row, on the street, and in private lots.
Many businesses in the city of Hot Springs use “National Park” in their name, even when they are not affiliated with the park. Check for the official National Park Service arrowhead displayed at all federal park facilities.
It can be hot and very humid in summer, so have sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water on hand. Also, temperatures can be unpredictable in winter, from the 60s to below freezing; dress in layers and be prepared for cold weather.
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2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.