The thermal waters have been attracting visitors to Hot Springs, AR, for hundreds of years. Native Americans believed in their healing properties, and Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto visited in 1541. In 1832, Hot Springs Reservation was created by the US Congress to protect the 47 thermal springs, and in 1921, it was officially designated as Hot Springs National Park. Hot Springs quickly became known as the country’s first resort town inside a national park.
Fast forward to modern day, and visitors still enjoy the thermal waters of Hot Springs National Park, even though the geothermal springs have all been covered now to protect the water, and to protect visitors from the 143°F temperature!
Even though there are no outdoor soaking opportunities in the park, you can still “take the waters” on Bathhouse Row. The thermal water is piped into 2 of the historical bathhouses, where it is cooled to at least 104°F. Buckstaff Bathhouse offers a “traditional bathing service,” including a whirlpool bath, hot packs, sitz bath, vapor cabinet, and needle shower. Spa services including massages, manicures and pedicures are also available.
Quapaw Baths & Spa offers four large thermal pools, each at a different temperature. They also offer modern-day spa services such as massages, private baths, and a Beauty & Blowout Bar.
You can drink the water at several thermal spring fountains throughout the park free of charge (bring your own bottle). Thousands of visitors take home bottles of the colorless, odorless, and tasteless thermal water each year. These fountains are located at:
- Hill Wheatley Plaza on Central Ave.
- Noble Fountain on Reserve St.
- In front of the National Park Service Administration Building on Reserve St.
- Shell Fountain on the Stevens Balustrade (between the Fordyce and the Maurice Bathhouses)
- Dripping Spring between the Hale and the Maurice Bathhouses
- Libbey Memorial Physical Medicine Center on Reserve St.
Two cold spring fountains are also available. The sources for the cold springs are obviously different from the hot springs fountains, and they are treated with ozone filtration systems. These can be found at:
- Happy Hollow Spring on Fountain St.
- Whittington Spring on Whittington Ave.
Hot Springs Bicycle Touring Co. offers a guided water tasting tour. This one hour tour via bicycle (or electric bike) takes you to the fountains through downtown Hot Springs National Park.
Another way to drink the thermal water is on tap at Superior Bathhouse Brewery! It is the only brewery in a National Park, and the only one in the world to use thermal water in their brewing process! (The also make their own root beer) Located on historic Bathhouse Row, they now have an outdoor Beer Park with a limited menu, along with their indoor seating with a full seasonal menu.
If you just can’t go home without touching the thermal springs, there is a small display spring behind the Maurice Bathhouse where you can stick your hand in the thermal water, and you can watch the thermal water flow over the Hot Water Cascade in the Arlington Lawn (across from the Arlington Hotel). Once you stick your hand in the water, you’ll understand why there are no springs to swim in. It’s really HOT!
Once you’ve “taken the waters”, be sure to explore the rest of Hot Springs as well. Our Insider’s Guide to Hot Springs National Park will get you started. History buffs can find our favorite historical sites here, and nature lovers can spend days exploring our national and state parks, as well as digging for diamonds and crystals!
While we can’t offer thermal water baths, we do recommend taking the waters at Tiffany’s Bed and Breakfast as well. Two of our guest rooms offer large en suite bathrooms that rival any spa in town. The jetted tubs are a perfect spot to relax after a busy day of exploring Hot Springs National Park. Snuggle into your oh-so comfy bed for a peaceful sleep, and awaken to breakfast at Tiffany’s the next morning. We’ve also got 60 acres of woodlands to explore, as well as 3 spring-fed creeks. While soaking in the Hot Springs thermal water is relaxing, nothing is more soothing than the sound of running water burbling through a creek bed!