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What is Hot Springs National Park Famous For? Thermal Pools, Relaxation, and Mountain Trails

It’s easy to say each national park is unique in its own ways, but what is Hot Springs National Park famous for?

From ancient thermal pools to mountain views and the local community, Hot Springs is different. The park doesn’t fit the mold of what is standard at most national parks. Sure, you’ll still find campgrounds, but you’ll just as easily find a hotel. The city of Hot Springs is just as much part of the park’s culture as what you’ll find within the park’s boundaries. Unlike some parks where adventurers make lofty goals, Hot Springs is about relaxation.

Here’s what makes Hot Springs National Park famous.

1. The Government Protected the Land Before National Parks Were a Thing

what is hot springs national park famous for?
(Source: NPS)

The significance of this area in Arkansas has been known for hundreds of years, first by the indigenous people who called the area home and later by the United States government. In 1832, the government named the area Hot Springs Reservation to protect the area for recreation. Forty years later, congress named Yellowstone the first national park. Hot Springs officially gained national park status in 1921.

2. There Are Almost Two Dozen Thermal Springs

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A water-filling station in Hot Springs, AR. (Source: City of Hot Springs)

There are 43 different hot springs around the national park. Visitors can experience the springs in a variety of ways. Within the park boundaries, people are allowed to visit and touch the springs but are not allowed to bathe in them. Located directly outside the park are bathhouses that pump in the hot spring water, and guests can relax and soak. Finally, many believe there are significant health benefits from drinking the hot springs. There are spots around town that allow visitors to fill up water jugs. 

3. There’s Still Plenty of Hiking Trails and Outdoor Adventures

what makes hot springs national park famous
There are numerous mountain biking trails outside the park. (Source: Visit Hot Springs)

Enjoying the thermally heated water is a big part of what draws people to Arkansas, and it has done so for hundreds of years. However, there are still plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities within the park.

Hot Springs and North Mountain trails are some of the most popular hikes as they provide great views and bring visitors to the hot springs located within the park. There are also opportunities for kayaking and biking within the park. These two opportunities provide a great alternative way to experience what Hot Springs National Park is famous for.

Outside the park, like a lot of Arkansas, you can find some of the best mountain biking trails in the country.

4. The Town Is Kind of Part of the Park

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Hot Springs bath houses. (Source: NPS)

Just about every national park has its gateway city. The towns are adjacent to the parks, where visitors can get gas and a few non-park-sanctioned t-shirts. However, Hot Springs, Arkansas, is an integral part of the park.

As mentioned, the bathhouses and hot spring water filling stations are located within the city and are a must visit if you’re visiting the national park. Developers originally built the city as a resort spa town. While Hot Springs is not a major metropolitan area, it’s still a lot larger than many other cities found outside national parks, and with it comes plenty of tourist attractions and other amenities that can keep people of all ages busy. 

5. Looking for More Ways to Relax? Hot Springs National Park is the only National Park with a Brewery

breweries in national parks
(Source: Superior Bathhouse)

The Superior Bathhouse is the only brewery located within a U.S. national park. The stop is also the only brewery in the world to use thermal spring water to make beer. The building was originally the smallest bath house in Hot Springs but has since been renovated into its current business. The brewery also has a full lunch and dinner menu, making this spot even more desirable for visitors.

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