Visitors to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas really go with the flow. The park contains 47 hot springs, or geothermal pools that spout up from inside the Earth. And tourists can take relaxing soaks at a bathhouse in the park that pipes in water collected from the springs.
At 5,550 acres, Hot Springs National Park is the smallest national park in the United States. The Caddo (CAD-oh) Native American tribes controlled the land before European settlers arrived, but experts aren’t sure if they used the springs. Starting in the 19th century, several spas that offered baths with pumped in spring water opened in the region. Many visitors with ailments such as arthritis flocked to these relaxation stations, believing that the mineral-rich waters could help heal them.
The area became a national park in 1921. Today you can still visit the one bathhouse that remains in operation at the park. (People aren’t allowed to take dips directly in the springs.) You can also drink the spring water from special fountains around the park. And don’t worry about burning your tongue. When the water flows from the ground into the pools, it’s a sizzling 143˚F on average. But it cools before reaching the park’s baths and fountains.
Home at Hot Springs
In addition to the springs, visitors to the park can also see some pretty cool wildlife. Spotted salamanders, great blue herons, and other animals make their homes here. Sounds like there are a lot of ways to soak up the fun at Hot Springs National Park!