The springs in Arkansas were one of the first sites in the US to be designated by the government for preservation. In 1832 Congress granted federal protection of the area due to the influx of tourists seeking the healing properties of the waters.
Once a booming bath house town, now a National Park, the hot springs are harvested by several independently owned bath houses in the midst of a small resort city.
The only national park in the US that is surrounded by a town, Hot Springs still offers something for everyone, from outdoor hiking and camping to luxurious hotel stay, spa services, and upscale shopping.
My visit there this weekend was one of outdoor adventuring. Several fountains on bath house row offered free, but warm, springs water to the public, and the water trickling down the face of the rock was a steamy 142 degrees! So the cool water of the creek next to the campsite was a relief after a warm afternoon hike.
With a robust history and a unique small town feel with access to the comfort of a resort community, Hot Springs is a gem and worth a visit, whatever your interest.