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Hot Springs National Park

The city of Hot Springs nearly surround its famous old park. Visitors will find 47 springs gushing millions of gallons of 143% -water right in the heart of the historic downtown district. At one time 1,000’s flocked here to drink this water, or bathe in the purportedly medicinal baths. Some still do, but a little sightseeing and a quick foot-soak is all most visitors have time for these days. The opulent 1915 Fordyce Bathhouse on Bathhouse Row (where else?) houses an NPS Visitors Center with a short history film.

Nearby Hot Springs Mountain is a good spot for a bird’s eye view of the area, either by the scenic drive around the mountain or on one of its 26 miles of hiking trials. The easiest to these treks is the Grand Promenade. The hike to the summit of Hot Springs Mountain to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, with its commanding vantage point 216 feet above the park.

Outdoor adventurers will find plenty to do in and around Littlerock Arkansas. Petite Jean Park has a kind of quiet beauty and some good walking trails and campgrounds. The Ouachita National Forest is a wild area near Hot Springs covered in artificial lakes and undeveloped woodland, so the hunting fishing, and boating there is excellent. The NPS’s Gulpha Gorge Campground is located 2 miles northeast of Hot Springs along Gulpha Creek. The scenery is great, but there are no showers, RV hook-ups and no reservations.

Hot Springs National Park claims to be the oldest of America’s National Parks, a claim also made by Yellowstone National Park. Hot Springs was set aside as a “Reservation” by congress in 1832, 40 years before Yellowstone was created a National Park. Hot Springs was in the system longer, but it wasn’t designated as a “park” until 1921. So who gets to claim the title of “oldest National Park”? One thing is for certain; Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is the nation’s smallest National Parks.