Hot Springs National Park
When I heard I won the Another Mother Runner Retreat from NUUN Hydration I flipped. Not only was I going to a RUNNING RETREAT to hang out with other MOTHER RUNNERS, but I was going to Little Rock, Arkansas!!!
Sure, Arkansas may not be the first Spring Break destination that comes to mind, but for me it was an important State to visit. First, it was one of the last three U.S. States I hadn’t visited. Now I had come close to stepping foot in the “Natural State” on our 1997 cross-country trip to New Orleans when we made that wrong turn in Memphis and crossed the bridge over the Mississippi River. But I hadn’t officially stepped foot on Arkansas soil. Second, Arkansas is home to 8 National Parks. And since I have a life-long quest to see as many of our National Parks as possible, I was nipping at the bud to visit.
Unfortunately, I only had 4 days in Little Rock, but it would be enough to take in some of its highlights. My first stop once I touched down at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport and got my rental car, was to drive the hour southwest to Hot Springs National Park.
I didn’t know what to expect when I looked up Arkansas’ National Parks. The only research I had done was to check locations and driving distances from Little Rock, since I was trying to fit my NP visits into my already scheduled AMR Retreat. I knew Hot Springs was a National Park with hiking trails, camping, and hot springs. Considering we had visited Yellowstone National Park last summer, I had my fill of hot springs then and thought I knew what to expect. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I pulled into Hot Springs, Arkansas and drove down Central Avenue to the National Park Visitor Center I was greeted to a town that reminded me of a cross between Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Rows of turn of the century bathhouses line Central Avenue. My first stop was the visitor center and the Fordyce Bathhouse. This restored bathhouse has floors of equipment of the time. Rooms upon rooms of steam cabinets, tubs, massage tables, chiropody tools and hydrotherapy equipment are on each floor of the bathhouse displaying the popular treatments of Hot Spring’s heyday.
Then I walked along Central Avenue. I saw locals filling their jugs with water from the thermal fountains and open hot springs.
I only had a couple of hours in Hot Springs National Park before I had to go back to pick up Perfectly Goofy Gail from the airport, so I decided to climb Hot Springs Mountain and see the views of the park from Hot Springs Mountain Tower. I opted to take the car up the windy drive to the tower. The tower is open all year and requires a separate admission to the top. It was clear day and well worth a visit to see the views of the surrounding mountains.
Unfortunately, my visit to Hot Springs National Park was too short. I did get a great overview, but I wish I had more time to walk down Central Avenue, camp in the park and bathe in one of the bathhouses. We will definitely have to put Hot Springs on our list to visit as a family.
Have you visited Hot Springs National Park? What did you think?