After all the waiting we did at the end of our stay in Little Rock, Arkansas, we were more than ready to leave. We were only heading an hour away, to Hot Springs, but we were going to arrive on a Saturday evening at a first-come campground, so our fingers were crossed.
Well it all worked out. There were a couple of spaces still available, and the manager said that if we would have arrived on Friday (as we had planned) the whole park was filled to capacity because of an event. So, a big shout out to fate!
I was looking forward to Hot Springs, and wish we would have had more time there. It’s another place I definitely want to revisit. The wooded area, cool old buildings, and touristy feel was somewhat similar to Eureka Springs, but it lacked the steep hills, quirky-ness, and community feel. Then again, here the springs weren’t all capped off.
There were many large brick buildings, and the main downtown street was charming.
Like Eureka Springs, many of the buildings are built right into the surrounding rock. (above left) This very large building (also shown above right)) is for sale – anyone interested?
The hot springs were amazing. Some had been capped at places and controlled, and it was incredible just how many springs were in the area. Below is just one small area where we saw several that had been capped.
The coolest part was that they had fountains all over town with filling stations – no charge. You just bring a vessel, and turn on the tap, and out comes some seriously hot water – around 143 degrees!
According to park literature, the geothermal features were formed during mountain uplifts 300 million years ago. Rain, snow and ice then seeped down to a depth of around 7000 feet. Over 4,000 years later it’s pushed back to the surface. The water is so pure (and hot) that it’s completely untreated. There are a couple of cold water springs as well, but those waters are treated. There was a whole pamphlet of water quality information from the Hot Springs National Park Service, including a warning that the future of the springs isn’t certain.
The water tasted great (after if cooled down!). Tom thinks I’m a water snob, but I can definitely taste differences in water. That combined with my beliefs about the properties of H2O, made me want to fill our fresh water tank on the RV with this great stuff. Alas, there was no way I could figure to do that. So we collected all of our containers from the RV, purchased a few jugs too, and filled away. There are people that come from all over with the backs of their SUVs full of water containers of every size and shape, to fill up at the stations. It was unique.
There were many shops and restaurants, and we indulged in a couple,
but the main feature downtown was the “Bath Row”. On the magnolia tree lined main street through town, there is a row of Victorian era bath houses.
Most all are turned into something else, like museums or breweries, but at least one is still a functioning bath house. You can schedule all types of spa treatments, in all price ranges, but we opted for the public pools at twenty dollars apiece. Inside a beautifully domed and tiled room were four separate pools like giant hot tubs. Each one was a different temperature and they ranged from around 98 degrees to 104 degrees. There was no time limit on your stay there, but of course you can only sit in hot water for so long at a time. We spent about forty minutes sampling the different temps.
I won’t go so far to say that hot tub soaking at Hot Springs is life changing, but Tom’s mood before and after the soak was. . . dramatic! After the stresses of waiting on the Jeep, the hot springs soak was just what he needed to rejuvenate.
It was too hot and we weren’t there long enough to do much hiking, so we drove up to the tower at the top of the mountain. We forked out the $6 each to ride the elevator to the top, and in addition to the great views, there was a lot of information on the history of the town. Al Capone was a regular there, and it has a colorful past.
All too soon it was time to leave. Before packing up we took a brief walk around the campground (for the first time!) and it was in a great area, with a stream running through.
I guess you could even walk to town from the campground. As we were getting ready to move, it started to rain, which was a welcome relief after the sticky humidity of the morning.
Now we are off to Texas for our next job near Dallas. I will certainly miss Arkansas, “the Natural State”, and I’m already trying to plan when we can get back.
Peace & Love, Joy