Before traveling to Hot Springs National Park, I didn’t really know what to expect. For starters, I had no idea this park was in the middle of a city. However, Hot Springs is considered an “urban park,” and is indeed nestled in the heart of downtown Hot Springs. The Park is surrounded by shops, restaurants, bars, and other tourist attractions. There is no entrance fee, and although you cannot soak in any of the thermal springs outdoors, you are able to soak in the mineral water at a few of the Bathhouses.
Quapaw Bathhouse opened in 1922, and is the longest bathhouse on the row. Modern spa services are available, and you are able to soak in water from the hot springs here. There is a large pool public pool, as well as several other smaller hot tubs available to soak in for a fee. There is also a snack shack and refreshments available for purchase in this area.
Buckstaff Bathhouse is the best-preserved traditional bathhouse, and was built in 1912. While both bathhouses offered similar spa services (massages, pedicures, etc.), we opted for Buckhouse because it advertised a more traditional experience. Although I don’t think we realized what type of experience we were really getting ourselves into before we started, but it made for some great memories. We paid for the traditional experience, which included: whirlpool mineral bath soak, hot packs, steam cabinet, and a sitz bath. They used to include a loofah scrub, however that has since been nixed with Covid. We were both assigned a personal “bather,” that ushered us to each private station during the whole experience, which lasted about 1.5 hours. At my last station, I had a conversation with my bather—I found out she had been doing this for 42 years! Crazy to think about what all has changed in the past 40 years.
We didn’t explore much outside of Bathhouse Row, however there are a few scenic drives just outside downtown Hot Springs— The North and West Mountain Drives. Hot Springs National Park also offers 26 miles of hiking trails to various viewpoints. Could definitely be worth checking out, maybe next time 😉