Relax in a hot bath and drink healing waters in Hot Springs National Park

Might a volcanic caldera form this Arkansas attraction? Do tectonic plates rub together, building toward a catastrophe of earthquakes?

What, pray tell, causes the soothing heat of the spring water? What magic mixes this elixer of healing minerals?

Unlike hot springs abundant around the Ring of Fire out West, the Arkansas hot springs remain somewhat a mystery.

This pdf document details the science. In summary, the force of gravity and radioactive decay probably heat the water, which surfaces faster than it can cool off.

This park offers atypical sites and sights. Most National Parks center around natural wonders like canyons, mountains and waterways. Here, too, you can seek nature on a long hike in the National Park or Oachita Mountains State Park nearby.

But a house and home staple — taking a bath — is the real focus that draws you into a bunch of historic buildings centered in a downtown.

Bathhouse row as it appeared in May 2019 — what a difference a day makes.

GETTING THERE

The first leg of our drive west began with more than an imaginary threat of nature.

“You do know you’re headed into bad thunderstorms, possible tornadoes,” our friend Dave called to warn. But with that, some advice. “Just handle it like a boat in rough water, head on, perpendicular to the wave.”

After some stressful hours of heavy rain and slow going in the winds, and seemingly just a stone’s throw away from our destination… this was the last we saw of one of our windshield wipers.

RVoyager’s wipers cost at least five times more than car wipers, we would soon discover. At first it made a strange clunking scrape and appeared to extend beyond its normal range. At about the instant we both were exclaiming something about ‘what is that weird thing the wiper is doing…’ kah-whack.

Off it flew.

We drove the last 10 miles slowly.

RVoyager found port from the storms at the Hot Springs Elks lodge

  • Power and water
  • Gravel sites
  • Great lodge

Rating: 3 out of 5.

RVoyager navigated to a modern Elks facility with friendly folks. Good, inexpensive parking choice.

But, the dumb and dumbest, aka R(V)ookie of the year award, goes to us in the category … why didn’t we stay at the National Park camp site and fill our tanks with the delicious hot springs water? !? !? !!??

  • Ozark bathhouse looks like a hotel through rain drop splattered window.
  • Watery view of the hotel glowing in after storm light.
  • Bill looks at historic maker for the Ohio and Southern Clubs. Major league players enjoyed gambling here during spring training. Al Capone and other mobsters also frequented.
  • Carved mahogany woman like the carvings on the front of a ship.
  • Lots of trees and some buildings in the valleys
  • Adventure travelers AJ and Bill pose atop the tower with the city of Hot Springs below
  • Views of the mountains far beyond the city buildings.
  • Bright sunny day, blue skies, view of Spanish colonial style Ozark, and into distance, more bath house buildings
  • AJ imitiates the woman in the statue, holding supped hands and begging for the fountain of youth liquid.
  • Colorful stained glass ceiling with mermaids, mermen
  • AJ acts like she is scrubbing her armpits in the historic bath house. shower room. Lots of chrome water pipes on the walls.
  • A large shiny globe with hoses on a stand, attachments on a single bed.

Good for what ails you. Except for the radiation.

Natural radiation, though. Not much more than spending some time in the sun, according to the pdf about the science.

We left a lot of exploration fruit on the vines for a return to Hot Springs, but even after a short time we say that you should not leave Hot Springs without:

  • a bath or couple’s bath
  • a lot of drinking of the water
  • a pint or two in the brewery
  • a trip up the tower

BEER BATH

The night we arrived, we enjoyed the Superior Bathhouse Brewery experience. SBB claims status as first brewery in a National Park.

SBB brews with the spring water. SBB offers all 18 of their beers on a flight called The Beer Bath.

Good thing we were sharing. At 4 oz. a beer that’s about 20 oz. each. Not quite 2 beers but some were high gravity.

Although we entered this place about 30 minutes til closing, the gracious staff insisted that we were no trouble, so we ordered a salad, sandwich and delicious beer cheese with pretzel.

Something about that flight made us lose our photo of it, so we borrowed this BEER BATH from Untappd.

Water is one of the critical ingredients in beer making. Bad water equals bad beer. We think we noticed a difference in the clean taste of the beers and loved it. Next time we head to Hot Springs, we will arrive much earlier to not rush the flight and beer infused cuisine.

After SBB, we grabbed a nightcap at the famed Ohio Club.

On his way to “pay the beer rent” (that’s code for go pee), Bill took these pics of wall hangings. The Ohio Club apparently had a history of exploiting women sexually. Now, it’s apparently improved to the category misogyny.

BATH TIME

Thankfully, the next day after our somewhat limited touring of the Park Tower, a look in the Arlington Hotel, and tour of bathhouse row, we tried a non-alcoholic bath.

The idea of spending money to take a bath seems ridiculous by today’s standards.

A fellow Elk recommended Quapaw Baths and Spa. But we didn’t really think we would.

We walked a couple buildings down from the Visitor’s Center and checked it out, still skeptical and expecting it to cost a small fortune. As it turned out, we were in luck if we wanted the last available time of the day.

And to our surprise, a Couples Private Mineral bath only cost $45. We booked it and added a scent for a few dollars more.

A little nervous about what to expect, meaning, after all, that getting naked is usually not a sanctioned national park activity… we waited at most a half hour.

A pleasant and professional attendant ushered us into our private room and let us watch as she filled the tub with water. She had us smell the aromatherapy we bought to make sure we would love it. Mmm lavender.

Lavender & Chamomile- Promotes sleep and eases muscle aches and pains

Quapaw Aromatherapy options menu

She added the crystals and explained how to start the spa when we were ready. Also, she told us not to be shy about using the extra towels as pillows.

We undressed and stretched out side by side facing one another in the large double tub and pressed the button.

Want to know what it felt like?

You should go and experience it yourself. Definitely a bucket list crosser-offer.

The water, though hotter than most spas, felt smooth and soothing to the marrow. At first you wonder if this temperature (lowered from the 123 natural degrees) will cook you.

Soon you acclimate. The scented steam wafts to your senses. And comfy with the towel pillow, the next 20 or 30 minutes evaporate your cares.

Meaning, you lose all worries. All thoughts, *POOF*

Deep in the sensory thrill, only sipping our glasses of ice cold spring water interrupted. The hangover melted away.

When the just-right allotted time expired, we dried off and put robes on.

The attendant then gave us some refreshing cucumber rose water and let us sit out in the lounge area while we cooled off.

We will never forget.

Best. Bath. Ever.

Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs, Arkansas

(501) 620-6715

EditHot Springs Nationl Park

Hot Springs National Park News

We started publishing our one-year anniversary of the 2019 RV maiden voyage stories on May 14, 2020. ONE DAY AT A TIME.

On some of the anniversary days while Bill worked the WSOP in Vegas and we did not tour or take pics, we will post other National Parks and some of our other adventures travels.

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