Hot Springs National Park: An Underrated Natural Spa

When most travelers list National Parks that they are yearning to visit, Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas generally doesn’t make the cut. Many travelers are unaware that a small, sleepy town in the Ouachita Mountains features luxurious historic bathhouses, sophisticated art galleries, and scenic mountain trails that allow visitors to run their fingers through mineral-rich natural hot springs. You don’t have to travel to Italy or France to receive the spa treatment of your dreams. The historic Quapaw Bathhouse offers a facial that will leave your skin glowing.

The Garvan Woodland Gardens is located in the picturesque Ouachita Mountains.

Artifacts which have been excavated from Hot Springs National Park—including arrowheads and pottery—suggest that humans have bathed in the steaming hot springs and crystal clear cold springs for over 10,000 years. In the early 1800s, European settlers cultivated a booming bathing industry which emphasized the healing properties of the waters. The secluded hot springs ultimately became so popular that the United States Congress granted federal protection to the area in 1832 so that it could be enjoyed by future generations. Many historians consider this Congressional act of federal land preservation to be the foundation of the National Park system in the United States.

Hot Springs National Park features a row of bathhouses that were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Buckstaff Bathhouse—which has been in operation since 1912—offers a piping hot whirlpool mineral bath and massage therapists who specialize in Swedish massage. The Quapaw Bathhouse features state of the art facials, aromatherapy treatments, and a public hot spring where visitors can spend a relaxing afternoon soaking their troubles away. The Ozark Bathhouse—which was constructed in 1922—now serves as an art gallery where visitors can view rotating fine art exhibits created by working artists.

Mineral hot water in Hot Springs National Park.

Photo: Shutterstock

Hot Springs National Park should certainly top your must visit list if you’re searching for a posh yet affordable day spa where you can be pampered. In the wake of an afternoon spent relaxing in a thermal pool, you can take a soothing mountain stroll that features several steaming pools of water, fluttering birds, and even the occasional fox or coyote sighting. The Ouachita Mountains are home to some of nature’s most celebrated healing waters. An afternoon reclining in a mineral-rich pool of water which has been flowing freely for thousands of years will help you understand why the Ouachita Mountains have been a restorative destination for countless travelers since long before Arkansas was a state.

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