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Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

Our Story

Hot Springs, Arkansas holds many distinctions and attractions that keeps drawing new and returning visitors.

Within the city limits, Hot Springs contains the nations oldest and smallest National Park, and no visit to Hot Springs would be complete without visiting it.

The 5500-acre park, the only urban National Park, was first established as a national reservation in 1832. It was re-titled Hot Springs National Park in 1921. However, when the U.S. Mint started releasing commemorative quarters of the parks in 2010, it did so in chronological order starting with Hot Springs.

The park is made of two of the  Ouachita Mountains and the valley between. The east mountain, known as Hot Springs Mountain, has 47 thermal springs flowing from its western slope.

Bath House Row is built on an underground thermal creek running along the base of the west slope of Hot Springs Mountain. During the early twentieth century, many of the major league baseball teams took advantage of these therapeutic bathhouses. These teams included the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and the Boston Red Sox. Babe Ruth liked to visit the spas and the nearby horse races.

Today the Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the visitor center for the U. S. National Park Service.

Our Horse Races

Oaklawn horse racing has been a draw from winter into early spring at Hot Springs since back in 1905. Now the season runs from mid-January until mid-April.

Except for some interruption back in 1934 because of the political climate and skipping the 1945 season due to the war effort, the tradition has continued.
In 1975 a five-story glass enclosed addition to the north end of the grandstand modernizing Oaklawn included: comfort for general admission, an extra 400 box seats, kitchen, dining room and a private club.
If you are of age, you can bet on all races run at Oaklawn, and with live Simulcast you can wager somewhere on horses or greyhounds across the country. It is all pari-mutuels so you are never playing against the track. The big race in Arkansas, the Arkansas Derby, first went over a million back in 1982.

Our Art Galleries and Antiques

Hot Springs received the No. 4 ranking in the Top 100 Small Art Towns in America.

On the first Friday of each month crowds of people enjoy the Hot Springs Gallery Walk. As they stroll the beautiful Victorian district of downtown Hot Springs, enjoying music and complimentary refreshments they see some of the finest contemporary art in America. Many of the artists whose works are on display turn out to chat with visitors. 

Of course if it is antiques and collectibles you desire, the 100 to 200 block of Central Avenue is a treasure hunter’s paradise, and on the third Friday of each month it has its own walk.

Our Lakes

Hot Springs is a City of three lakes.
Lake Ouachita is the largest manmade lake in Arkansas with over 970 miles of campsite dotted shoreline.  This lake has over 200 Islands and is a popular getaway for diving, sailing and fishing for striped and big mouth bass. There are ample marinas, resorts and cabins; however, 1.6 million acres of the Ouachita National Forest and 32 miles of hiking trail still offer visitors a sense of seclusion.

Lake Hamilton is smaller and less secluded. You can still fish here but would more likely Jet Ski. This 7,200 acres lake is largely residential and features a number of condos, homes, resorts and campsites.
One of the most impressive peninsulas in Lake Hamilton is the one where Hot Spring’s famous Garvan Woodland Gardens grows.
Lake Catherine is an excellent fishing lake for a wide variety of fish from bream to walleye. Below the dam you can find rainbow trout.  The lake is small but surrounded by beautiful scenery and trails that are just right for day hikes.
Marinas, cabins, campsites, restaurants, resorts, and hotels are all nearby.

Come on Down
If you have not enjoyed the pleasure of discovering Hot Springs, we invite you to come on down. If it has been a while, come on back see the seasons at Garvan Gardens , watch the races at Oaklawn, and see what’s new in the galleries. Take a stroll in Hot Springs.










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images/stories/hot springs tower.gif Access to Hot Springs National Park
The park lies about 55 miles southwest of Little Rock in the Zig Zag Mountains on the eastern edge of the Ouachita Range. The mountain tops are the erosion-resistant remnants of folded layers of novaculite and sandstone. Music Mountain is the highest point in the small mountain system and is the center of a great horseshoe-shaped ridge whose ends are Sugarloaf and West Mountains. The hot springs are on the lower western side of Hot Springs Mountain, opposite the southern end of the horseshoe. Dense forests of oak, hickory, and short-lived pine doiminate this region. Flowering trees are also common, and successive seasons have displays of colored leaves and abundant flowers. Redbud and dogwood bloom in early spring, gracing the understory of the pine and hardwood woodlands. Flowering southern magnolias lend a special beauty, particularly in early summer. Song birds and small animals are abundant in the forest.

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