From its rich cultural past to its healing qualities, Hot Springs National Park offers several benefits. Furthermore, the area features great hiking trails, interesting geology, and breathtaking mountain views.
If you’ve never been to the area, take a road trip out here in a campervan! There are several amazing places to park and camp for days on end, and your schedule will be packed with local attractions and activities.
Keep reading to learn more advantages of visiting Hot Springs National Park, including why the late summer/early fall months are the perfect time to visit!
About Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park is located in central Garland County, Arkansas, in the city of Hot Springs. Of course, the area’s natural springs are a huge reason why people visit the city. This thermal water flows from the western slopes of Hot Springs Mountain, connected to the Ouachita Mountain range.
As you’re making the drive out to this wonderful national park, be sure to make a few nature stops on the ride over!
Where to Stop Along the Way
Adventure is found throughout the drive to Hot Springs National Park, no matter where you come from.
Check out our favorite stops along the way:
If you’re driving north, consider a few destinations in the great state of Louisiana. First, soak up the sun at a nearby beach, such as Holly Beach, Rutherford Beach, or White Sands Lake Day Beach. For those hikers out there, check out Comite Park Trail in Comite River Park or Wild Azalea Trail in Kisatchie National Forest.
If the drive takes you through the Houston, TX area, visit Galveston Island State Park for excellent fishing and great beaches. For rock climbers, try your luck at Momentum Indoor Climbing—the largest bouldering gym in the nation!
If the road trip takes you west, you’ll find several adventure opportunities. In northern Mississippi, make a stop at Holly Springs National Forest. Here you’ll find multiple scenic lakes, which offer great kayaking, swimming, and fishing.
Passing through northern Alabama? If so, consider stopping in Bankhead National Forest. This area features waterfalls, RV campgrounds, and numerous biking trails!
A southern drive into the area provides a long list of incredible stopping points. First, you can’t pass up the Ozark Mountains. This massive range offers one-of-a-kind hiking trails, waterfalls, lakes, and beauty around every corner!
If a trip through Iowa is on the agenda, consider stopping at Maquoketa Caves State Park, West Okoboji Lake, or Ledges State Park. You may even see some fall beauty along the way!
Driving east on your epic journey? If so, you’ll find plenty of adventures in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. First, Grand Canyon National Park is a must-see, especially if you’ve never been. Secondly, you can’t go wrong with the Sante Fe area in New Mexico. Taos is an awesome ski town destination, while the nearby Carson National Forest is also perfect for adventure seekers!
If you pass through Oklahoma, our favorite areas include Turner Falls, Natural Falls State Park, and Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees—especially when the leaves change!
Soak Up These Outdoor Activities in Hot Springs National Park!
As you get into Hot Springs National Park, I bet you’re ready to explore and see what these hot springs are all about!
While you’re building your itinerary, be sure to add the following activities to the list:
Soaking in Hot Springs
Taking a healing soak in the hot springs is a leading reason why people visit this national park. While there aren’t any hot spring opportunities outside, there are two facilities that allow visitors to relax in the calming thermal water.
The first option is the Buckstaff Bathhouse, which originally opened in 1912. This amazing place offers hot spring soaks, massages, and a number of wellness packages.
The Quapaw Bathhouse is another high-quality establishment in the park, offering visitors a wide variety of spa services, such as thermal soaking, private baths, and even a steam cave!
Nothing beats taking a thermal soak after a long day of hiking. Here in Hot Springs, that dream can become a reality! Hot Springs Mountain, located in the park, provides several fantastic hiking trails. In fact, you can find over 15 hiking routes in the Hot Springs Mountain and North Mountain areas. However, keep in mind most of the trails are pretty short.
Take a look at the top hiking routes in the area:
- Goat Rock Trail
- West Mountain Trail
- Gulpha Gorge Trail
- Hot Springs Mountain Trail
These trails offer fantastic views of the local scenery, and you may get a glimpse of some fall beauty!
Learning About the History
Learning about the local culture and history should be another top activity on your list. For a great history lesson, take a self-guided tour of the historic Fordyce Bathhouse. We recommend watching the orientation film before walking around. As you stroll through the building, which operated from 1915 to 1962, you’ll see why this bathhouse was considered the fanciest of them all!
Hot Springs National Park is also the ideal place for biking! The Hot Springs Northwoods Trail System offers excellent routes for all ability levels, and four trailheads are conveniently scattered throughout town. This trail system provides nearly 32 miles of world-class mountain biking!
If hiking isn’t on the agenda, you can still experience the sights and sounds from the seat of your car! Hot Springs National Park offers numerous scenic overlooks and easy stopping points. In fact, although the park is relatively small, you’ll find six exceptional overlooks!
Take a look at the park’s overlooks and scenic drives below:
- Goat Rock Overlook
- Hot Springs Mountain Scenic Drive
- Hot Springs Mountain Lookout Point
- West Mountain Scenic Drive
- West Mountain Lower Overlook
- West Mountain Picnic Overlook
- West Mountain Loop Overlook
- Balanced Rock Overlook (from Sunset Trail)
- Hot Springs Mountain Tower Overlook
When you’re all finished driving for the day, it’s time to soak in the springs!
Camping in or around Hot Springs National Park is the best way to visit the area! From making s’mores at the campfire to sleeping in the peaceful wilderness, there really isn’t anything like it. If you want to camp within the national park, Gulpha Gorge Campground is your only option. Here you’ll find 40 campsites with picnic tables, grills, water, and full hookups!
- Keep in mind there is no entrance fee to enter the park!
- There is a nightly fee for camping
- Autumn is the best time to visit; the fall foliage comes to life!
- Hot Springs Mountain Tower and West Mountain are some top areas to see the changing fall colors
- Check out the nearby Ouachita or Ozark National Forest for top-of-the-line boating, wildlife viewing, camping, and more!
Below you’ll find details of some of the top attractions in the area:
- Goat Rock Trail: Starts at the overlook on North Mountain
- West Mountain Trail: Begins just north of the city of Hot Springs, on the southern end of the park
- Gulpha Gorge Trail: Starts at Gulpha Gorge Campground
- Gulpha Gorge Campground: 305 Gulpha Gorge Road, Hot Springs, AR 71901
- Crystal Springs Campground: 1130 N Crystal Springs Rd, Royal, AR 71968
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, check out the following hidden gems in the area:
- Garvan Woodlands
- Gangster Museum of America
- Adventureworks Zip Line Park
- Ron Coleman Crystal Mine
- Bird Island
The ideas above are ideal for escaping the crowds!
Start a Trip of a Lifetime!
Now’s the perfect time to hit the road and explore Hot Springs National Park! As the leaves start to change, you don’t want to miss the dazzling display of fall beauty.
If you want an exciting, comfortable road trip to Hot Springs, pick up a new campervan from the experts here at Rec Van! We offer some of the most reliable, high-quality vans in the industry.
Check out our campervan inventory today, and give us a call for more information!