|Civil War Weekend||Junior Ranger Program||General Information|
|National Trails Day||Oktoberfest Volksmarsch||Visitor Center|
Hot Springs National Park is opened year round. Its highest visitation is June through October, with the lowest being in December and January.
Hot Springs National Park has something for everyone...whether you are interested in nature, architecture or history...the park's natural and cultural features blend together along famous Bathhouse Row. The park also offers scenic drives, hiking trails, picnic areas and a camping area in its forested mountains which are open throughout the year.
Activities to consider while here but not limited to: sight-seeing at the Visitor Center, observing plants and wildlife on the many trails and roadsides, hiking; picnicking at the designated sites, bird watching, camping at Gulpha Gorge Campground, and taking advantage of guided tours when available. Traditional thermal baths are available on Bathhouse Row. The Hot Springs Health Spa, also located in the park, offers the facilities of a modern spa.
Scheduled guided bathhouse tours and outdoor walking thermal features tours by park rangers and volunteers in season and upon request by advance reservation for groups during the remainder of the year. Wildflower walks, birding walks and other special hikes may be scheduled throughout the year.
There are self-guided tours all during the year, and campfire programs at the Amphitheater at Gulpha Gorge Campground during June, July and August. The evening summer campfire programs present a variety of in depth information on the history, natural history topics and archeology of the area.
Open: All Year - 9:00 am - 5:00 pm; end May - mid Aug - 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Closures: 01 January, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
Phone: 501-624-3383, ext. 640
Location: The visitor center is located in the former Fordyce Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Springs. Bathhouse Row is located on Arkansas Highway 7 or Central Avenue between Reserve and Fountain Streets. Parking is available in private lots and meters on all adjacent streets.
Special Programs: During the summer, special family programs are being offered several afternoons and evenings each week. Call the visitor center for the daily program schedule.
Exhibits: The Fordyce Bathhouse exhibits 24 rooms that are refurnished like they were when the building opened for baths in 1915. Modern exhibits on the second floor detail the use and development of the spa. The Fordyce Spring is also on display in the basement.
Available Facilities: The visitor center in the former Fordyce Bathhouse is also a museum offering self-guided tours. Considered the most elegant bathhouse when completed in 1915, it contains lovely mosaic tile floors, marble, stained glass windows and ceilings, gymnasium, and routine bathing equipment. The park 15-minute orientation movie, "Valley of Vapors," offers a brief history of the area. "Taking the Baths" is a 9-minute video showing the traditional bathing routine in the Hot Springs bathhouses. Eastern National has a bookstore with books and other items pertaining to the baths and the park. Rest rooms and water fountains are located in the basement.
Although no major battles were fought near Hot Springs, the town felt the effects of the war. Soldiers were recruited from its tiny population, cavalry patrols were frequent visitors, and skirmishes occurred within its boundaries. When Federal troops threatened Little Rock in May 1862, Governor Rector moved state records and his staff to Hot Springs. But the town's status as capital was short-lived. By July, the Union army had bypassed Little Rock, and the government relocated there. By late 1863, most citizens had left Hot Springs because of increasing lawlessness in the area. By the war's end, much of the town had been burned.
The annual Hot Springs National Park Civil War Weekend features a Civil War-era living history display the first of June on the Arlington Lawn and lectures at the visitor center and Gulpha Gorge Campground. Check with the Visitor Center for times and dates.
Here is an example of what the Civil War Symposium may offer:
|Junior Ranger program||Arlington Lawn||Billy Yank--What did a Union soldier carry and how did he use all those things?|
|Living History Presentation||Arlington Lawn||The Daily Life of a Civil War Soldier - Coby Bishop, National Park Service Ranger, demonstrates the daily activites and living conditions of a soldier during the war.|
|Workshop||Fordyce Visitor Center||Preserving the Past...Preserving the Memory--Basic and Safe Preservation Techniques for Gravestones and Monuments. Brian McCutcheon, National Park Service Architectural Historian, Midwest Regional Office, presents this special program. Seating is limited.|
|Program||Gulpha Gorge Campground Amphitheater||Of Monuments and Remembrance--One Hundred Forty Years of Civil War Veteran Commemoration Brian McCutcheon, National Park Service Architectural Historian, Midwest Regional Office, presents this illustrated talk featuring highlights of his extensive research into Civil War-related monuments and statues. In case of rain, this program will be held in the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center. Seating there would be limited.|
All activities begin at the National Park Visitor Center, located in the restored Fordyce Bathhouse, downtown. Check with the Visitor Center for times and dates.
|Trails Information Booth||Receive the latest information on the national park trails and trail-related programs such as Leave No Trace, Adopt-A-Trail, Volksmarsch, and Service to America.|
|3.5 or 7 mile Guided Hikes||Hikes sponsored by the Ouachita Mountain Hikers, a local hiking club. Trails are moderately difficult. Wear sturdy shoes and insect repellent, and bring water.|
|Junior Ranger program--Hiking Fun||Hiking is fun if you remember safety. Dress for a short hike to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.|
|Hike to the Mountain Tower||Hike to Hot Springs Mountain Tower and back with a park volunteer. The trail is steep but short. Entrance to the tower is optional and at your expense.|
The National Park Service and the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce sponsors a Volksmarsch each October in conjunction with the city Oktoberfest. It is sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association as is a Year Round Event walk in the park. The leaves will have just begun to turn into their fall finery as you enjoy autumn in the Ouachita Mountains.
Start/Finish: The start/finish is located at the Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center in the former Fordyce Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row at 369 Central Avenue whose hours of operation are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.
Parking: There are several private parking lots for all day parking within several blocks of the Fordyce.
Registration: Participants may register at the start/finish between 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. A guided group will start at 9:00 am for those wanting a 5 km or 10 km walk and again at 1:30 pm for walkers wanting to go 5 km only. Anyone may walk for free but the entry fee for AVA/IVV credit is $2.00 The first 200 participants will receive a commemorative pin as an award. If you would like to preregister, you may do so. Girl Scouts participating will receive a special AVA patch.
The Trail: Rated 3+, the 5 or 10 km route is along well-maintained graveled paths and sidewalks. There are some moderately steep sections with more level stretches in between. It does not meet wheelchair standards; strollers may have difficulty on the gravel.
Refreshments: Water and rest rooms are available at the start/finish point. Bring a cup to drink at the springs along the route. Walkers are advised to bring water and a snack for this 3 - 4 hour walk. What a better way to relax after a walk than with a hot springs bath! Ask for a schedule of hours at the Visitor Center.
Other Oktoberfest Events (Subject to Change)
Hot Springs National Park has two Junior Ranger programs. If you are planning a short visit, a program is available at the visitor center. You can ask for it at the information desk. After completing a booklet, you will be awarded a Junior Park Ranger badge.The second program is only offered in the summer and requires you to attend at least four of the programs listed below.
Come to Hot Springs National Park for at least four Saturday family programs. Most programs begin Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. at the Gulpha Gorge Campground amphitheater, Beginning of June through the beginning of August.
|Hiking is Fun||Hiking is fun if you remember safety. Go to the Fordyce Visitor Center for a National Trails Day hike.|
|Billy Yank||What did a Civil War soldier carry and how did he use all those things? Come to the Arlington Lawn downtown to see.|
|Rock Walk||Learn the secrets of the mountains from rocks with a ranger.|
|Learning to Speak Frog||Follow the Ranger to Ricks Pond to find out why frogs croak and learn to imitate some.|
|Leave No Trace||Can you hike in the woods so no one knows you were there? Hike and see how.|
|Plants Great and Small||From trees to tiny wildflowers, see what the park has to offer us.|
|Finding Your Way||Can you use a compass to find your way on a trail? This program will point you in the right direction.|
|Kids Day in the Park||Come to the Arlington Lawn beginning at 10:00 a.m. for a day of 3 special programs.|
|Amazing Insects||Some bite us but others pollinate our food. Explore their diversity today.|
|Creek Critters||Find out first hand about what lives in Gulpha Creek. Wading included.|
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
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Civil War Weekend
Fordyce Bath House
Horse & Stock Info
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Junior Ranger Programs
National Trails Day
Size & Visitation Info
"Taking the Baths"
Wildlife and Wildflowers
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