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.
|Accessibility||Food and Supplies||Pet Information|
|Basic Recommendations||Hiking||Program / Activities|
|Entrance Fees||Picnicking||Wildlife & Wildflowers|
Visitor Center Parking
The park visitor center is in the former Fordyce Bathhouse, located in the middle of Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Springs. The national park does not have any parking lots, but parking is available within two blocks in lots owned by the city and private companies. There is also a pull off area just north of the Fordyce for loading and unloading passengers.
Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center
An entrance ramp is located on the north end of the Fordyce porch. Only the right-hand side of the front door opens; the left side can be opened on request. The information desk inside is the original bath registration desk of the Fordyce Bathhouse and is very high, but an adjacent Dutch door desk has been lowered to serve people in wheelchairs. At the information desk, printed information can be obtained and questions answered. All brochures produced by the park are available in large print. Blind visitors may borrow an audio tape of the park brochure.
An elevator allows access to all floors today as it also did in historic times. For visitors who are temporarily disabled and need a wheelchair, the park has two available for loan. A driver's license is requested as security for borrowing a wheelchair.
A theater on the ground floor has a captioned 17-minute movie that tells the story of the hot springs and their use. The theater is equipped with an FM sound enhancing system. If you would like enhanced sound, just ask for a receiver from the bookstore cashier.
Blind visitors can experience a touchable model of Bathhouse Row in the anteroom of the theater. There are also life-size models of architectural features from some of the bathhouses, too. A sighted guide may be available to accompany visually impaired visitors throughout the building. Ask at the information desk.
Accessible rest rooms and water fountain are located in the basement. Exhibits of old machinery and the Fordyce Spring are also on display in the basement.
Bathhouse Row, Grand Promenade and Geothermal Features
Bathhouse Row is a Historic Landmark District and each bathhouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. Other than the Buckstaff Bathhouse which still offers baths, the Visitor Center is the only building that can be entered. The vacant bathhouses, however offer beautiful architectural features. Eventually, each of the now empty bathhouses will be rehabilitated for use.
At the south end of Bathhouse Row is the park headquarters building. All administrative and management personnel are located there.
The Bathhouse Row/Grand Promenade area is the only place where the hot springs emerge. Most of the springs have been covered for a hundred years to protect the purity of the water for use in the bathhouses and drinking fountains. Visitors can see open hot springs on display just north of the Visitor Center, via the park's former grand carriage entrance. The concrete walkway leading to the springs has a grade of about 7 percent. Another hot spring water display cascades down the hillside at the north end of Bathhouse Row, at Fountain Street. A ramp to the Grand Promenade is also adjacent to the former carriage entrance, behind the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center. It has a slope of about 10 percent. At the top of the ramp, visitors can see the south end of the Grand Promenade, which is a staircase. The north end of the Grand Promenade slopes downhill to Fountain Street with a slope of 5 percent. From the top of the ramp to the north entrance is a little less than half a mile.
Guided thermal features tours to the hot springs and the Grand Promenade area are conducted as staffing allows from March through October, weather permitting. These free tours depart from the Visitor Center porch and last about thirty minutes. The area covered is about one-half mile in length. Visitors needing a sign language interpreter for a regularly scheduled park tour should contact the park at least three days in advance. Group tours can be arranged with advance notice.
Fountains for collecting the hot spring water free of charge are located near the corner of Central and Reserve--one on Reserve Street and one in the Hill Wheatley Plaza parking lot. They are at an accessible height but have spring-loaded handles.
Hot Springs Mountain Drive offers several accessible scenic overlooks. Each overlook area has one ISA designated parking space. The Hot Springs Mountain Tower, a concessionaire of Hot Springs National Park, is accessible with two ISA parking spaces. Very sharp switchbacks on this road cannot accommodate vehicles over 30 feet long. West Mountain Drive also has ISA designated parking at each overlook and each is accessible. Both mountains afford spectacular views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains.
At the top of Hot Springs Mountain is a picnic area with accessible restrooms and water fountain. One table is accessible for wheelchairs. Gulpha Gorge has a picnic area at the entrance to the park campground. There is one accessible picnic site with one ISA designated parking space. Accessible restrooms are nearby.
Gulpha Gorge Campground has one fully accessible campsite marked with an ISA sign. All restrooms are accessible. The campground is managed by self-registration. The free Golden Access Passport may be used for a 50% discount on the $10.00 daily camping fee. Qualified individuals may get one at the Visitor Center
Basic Visit Recommendations
The historic Bathhouse Row area may be seen in two hours. Allow longer to enjoy the hiking trails, scenic drives and evening summer programs.
Bikes are prohibited on sidewalks and on trails
Gulpa Gorge Campground is located on Highway 70B, approximately 0.5 miles north of highway 70 East. It is located on the east side of the park. There are no showers, electrical hook- ups or water hook-ups. Camping limit is 14 days in a calendar year. Commerical and state park campgrounds in the Hot Springs area offer complete facilities.
See the Camping Page for more information.
There are no admission fees. Donations are accepted in the donation bottle in the lobby of the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center.
Food and Supplies
The park is in the middle of the city of Hot Springs. There are local restaurants and grocery stores as well other stores.
There are approximately 26 miles of day-use hiking trails in the park (mountain bikes are prohibited); there are two scenic mountain drives on West Mountain and on Hot Springs and North Mountains. An observation tower on top of Hot Springs Mountain is operated by a concessioner. There are picnic tables on the Grand Promenade, Hot Springs Mountain, West Mountain and Gulpha Gorge.
See the Hiking Page and the Sights Page for information on scenic drives.
Lodging in the park is limited to camping at Gulpha Gorge Campground (as stated under Fees, Costs and Rates). A variety of hotels, motels, and RV camping sites are available in the surrounding area.
See the Lodging Page and the Camping Page for more information.
Permits, Reservations and Fees
There are no permits or licenses needed.
Camping fees are $ 10.00 per night ($ 5.00 for those having Golden Age or Golden Access Passports) at Gulpha Gorge Campground. Reservations are not taken for Gulpha Gorge Campground; it is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Two weeks notice is preferred for scheduling a special tour for a group. Call 501-624-3383 x 640 for information.
There is a fee charged for the Hot Springs Bath or Spa facilities.
Pets are not permitted within the Visitor Center or Administrative buildings. This restriction does not apply to guide dogs for the visually or hearing impaired. All pets must be leashed or otherwise restrained
Picnic tables on the Grand Promenade, Hot Springs Mountain, West Mountain, and at Gulpha Gorge offer a place to enjoy a meal outdoors.
The Gulpha Gorge picnic area is located at the entrance to the campground near Gulpha Creek. In addition to thirty-four tables, there are grills, trash cans and restrooms. Hiking trails are nearby.
At the top of Hot Springs Mountain is another picnic area, next to the overlook with the "pagoda" shelter. There are fourteen tables, also grills, water, trash cans and restrooms. It is a short walk to the observation tower and nearby trails.
At the south end of the Grand Promenade are two picnic tables. Bring your checkers and enjoy a game on the checkerboards which are painted on the tables. Trash cans and comfort stations are nearby.
Two picnic tables are located at the second overlook on west Mountain Drive. Trash cans are nearby.
The picnic area at Gulpha Gorge will be closed to all activity between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am daily to coincide with quiet hours in the adjacent campground. Picnicking activity within Gulpha Gorge campsites is prohibited unless registered for that specific campsite and the camping fee is paid. Picnicking throughout the park is permitted unless posted to prevent that activity.
Programs / Activities
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. Self-guided tours all during the year. Campfire programs at the Amphitheater at Gulpha Gorge Campground during June, July, and August.
See the Calendar Page for more information.
Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center/Museum: three floors of lovely tile, marble and stained glass, exhibit cases, restored bathhouse rooms, a nine minute bathing video, a 17-minute movie, basement with the Fordyce spring, rest rooms, water fountain, and pay telephone. There are many wayside exhibits on Bathhouse Row. There are park rangers, volunteers, and senior aides at the lobby desk to assist visitors with brochures, the park newspaper, and other information.
See the Calendar Page for more information.
The park enjoys all four seasons: mild in spring and fall, some humidity, light jacket recommended; hot and very humid in summer, wear comfortable clothing; winter: variable--temperatures may range from below freezing to the 60s, with some humidity. Be prepared for cold weather.
See the Weather Page for current conditions, forecasts and other weather data.
Wildlife and Wildflowers
Because the park is in the city, there are mainly small animals in the park, like squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, possums, foxes and rabbits. There are also wild turkey and lots of songbirds like the cardinal, mockingbird, blue jay, warblers and woodpeckers. The mountains have forests with mostly pine, oak and hickory trees. Spring is especially beautiful with the wildflowers in bloom. You might see dogwood trees, redbud trees, spiderworts, wild roses, wild iris or mayapples, just to name a few.
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
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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