Hot Springs National Park: Part One

Good morning, my friends. It's our last morning in Hot Springs. We'll be moving along later this morning, heading to Morrilton, Arkansas, and Petite Jean State Park. We have three nights at our next stop, and we're hoping to see a big waterfall and to do some hiking. The weather is looking a little iffy for one of our days, and so we'll have to see how it goes when the time comes.

For now, I want to tell you about our visit to Hot Springs National Park. First, however, let's get an update on our latest kitten. Most of the body is stitched.

It seemed a good time to move my hoop to the left a little to encompass the back leg. We've been busy sightseeing and traveling, and so my slow-stitching isn't getting the regular attention it would get back home. Nevertheless, I expect I'll have this finished before the week is out.

All right. So let's talk about the national park. It's a park easily seen in a day. There are really two components. The park is "natural" for its landscape and for the hot springs. It's also man-made in the form of the bathhouses that existed since the early 1900's. In part, it's also a national historic site. I took a lot of pictures while we were there, and so I decided to break it up into two posts. This first post will be about the natural parts of the park.

It was a little tricky finding it, although it was actually right in front of our eyes. When our navigation unit announced that we'd reached our destination, we just saw a lot of old buildings, people, and cars. I had to turn around and look behind me to see the sign.

It was confusing figuring out how and where we were to go to see it. We were on a busy street, and the bathhouses were off to my right. I knew there was a scenic drive through the park. When we saw a sign directing us to turn onto the scenic drive, we did. We were on a one-way loop originally intended for pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages.

The road didn't open to cars until the 1920's. This is how it looked for most of the way.

First, we came to a cold water spring. There was a spot we could pull off to the side to park, and so we walked around a little here.

Here, the spring was draining down the side of a hill.

Moving just a little way down the road, there were some stone steps leading down, where we saw this.

A sign down the hill explained what we were looking at.

Heading down a little farther, we came to the walkway known as the "Grand Promenade."

Looking to my right, it looked like this.

Looking to my left, it looked like this:

We might have walked the Grand Promenade, now that we'd found it. There was this little problem of our truck parked up the hill, however, and so we went back to the truck and continued on our way. We'd seen this "Mountain Tower" from the road, but we weren't sure whether we wanted to pay to go to the top.

Here's a little information about the tower(s).

And since the "scenic" drive was lined with tall trees on both sides, I'm not sure what we were supposed to see in the way of "scenery." We decided it was worth the $13 (for seniors) each to ride to the top. We boarded a glass elevator with another group of folks and rode to the top.

From there, we had a 360° view of the surrounding countryside.

Here's a view of the city of Hot Springs.

In another direction, it was a vast expanse of deciduous forest. It must be beautiful in the fall.

We traveled this road coming from the RV park. Take a look out there in the upper right hand corner of the image below. See that yellow structure?

It's a theme and water park and a roller coaster. We passed right next to it as we drove in.

As you might guess, I took pictures of every blooming thing.

The azaleas made me realize ours back home are probably blooming. It made me momentarily homesick.

And look at this beautiful tree.

These are the flowers close up.

I don't know the names of any of these. If I had to guess, I'd guess this one is the Blue Toadflax.

More azaleas.

We were nearly to the main street where Bathhouse Row was located when we came to this spring. It doesn't show up well in this picture, but hot water was running down the center of that large rock, and steam was rising. It's estimated that the water we're seeing here fell as rain some 4,000 years ago. The hot springs are heated by a natural thermal gradient that occurs as water moves deeper into the Earth. The water becomes hotter as it moves deeper, and at great depths, it reaches fractures and faults in the Hot Springs Sandstone that bring the water to the surface as a thermal hot spring. The water is heated through contact with parent rock material that's very deep in the earth.

It drained into these two pools below. The water was hot to the touch. Arriving at the surface, the water is around 143°F. It was just slightly cooler in this lower pool.

A little warmer in this upper pool, simply because it cools more as it's on the surface for longer.

We were nearly to the area known as Bathhouse Rose by now. We stopped to look at this sign.

And then we walked on. Here's a little history about the place. I've cropped the text from the upper right corner and posted it below to make it a little easier to read.

Looking to our right, we walked this main drag alongside the bathhouses.

Some of the bathhouses are open for business. It's by appointment, and I imagine there's a whole routine they go through for the experience. We didn't do that, but we took the self-guided tour of the Fordyce Bathhouse. It doubles as the park Visitor Center now. I'll save that for Part Two of our visit. For now, just know we had lunch at the first bathhouse we came to. It happened to be a restaurant and craft brewery. We sat at one of the windows indoors. It was excellent people watching. Look left of center in the image below, and you'll see the Hot Springs Trolley.

Mike had a beer. I had a hard cider, and we each had some sort of turkey, ranch, bacon wrap for our lunch. From there, we headed back to the RV.

Along the way, I picked up another refrigerator magnet.

I picked up these bath salts for my dear DIL, Mae. Mae likes a good soak in a bathtub. I think she'll like this.

And, Arkansas, your license plates are making it too easy for me to crack jokes. Here, I've pixelated the license plate number, but I was amused that Arkansas fancies itself "The Natural State." I told Mike if it were really "natural," then none of us would be wearing clothes.

And I'll leave you with that picture for your imaginary viewing pleasure.

As I said, I've broken this into two posts. There were too many pictures to keep it all in one. So, stay tuned, and I'll take you on a tour of the Fordyce Bathhouse. You can find Part Two right here.


Barbara said...

Water is the driving force of all nature, and hot springs are its gift. ~ Unknown.

piecefulwendy said...

I recognize that area in Hot Springs. When we stopped there, it was so slogged with people it was not enjoyable. I didn't know about the Bathhouse Row, though, so that was interesting.

Lyndsey said...

An interesting trip. I always like hot spring or similar water phenomena. I'm with Mae, a relaxing soak in a warm bath is so good .

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Hah - I'm sure your shadow shelves would enjoy the 'all natural' aspect.
You wouldn't get me up in that tall structure, no matter what the view was. Nice to see via your camera though.