Hot Springs National Park

Quapaw Baths

I was surprised to see that Hot Springs National Park (HSNP) in Arkansas was a row of nine bath houses right in the middle of town. There was more to it than that of course.

The bath houses were all rebuilt after a great fire in 1878 rapidly changed from a rough frontier town to an elegant spa city.

47 hot springs emerge from Hot Springs Mountain at an average temperature 143° Fahrenheit. The hot springs produce about 650,000 gallons of water per day. That’s enough to fill one olympic sized pool a day. The water coming out of Hot Springs today fell as rain nearly 4,500 years ago the same time the pyramids of Egypt were being built!

Worth Noting: Two different tour guides claimed that HSNP was the 2nd oldest National Park. However, further investigation did not bear that out. Google revealed that HSNP was perhaps the 15th (with two parks listed as 2nd – one decommissioned) NPS.GOV listed it 3rd behind the National Mall and the White House in DC. The website for HSNP states: On April 20, 1832, President Andrew Jackson signed legislation to set aside “…four sections of land including said (hot) springs, reserved for the future disposal of the United States (which) shall not be entered, located, or appropriated, for any other purpose whatsoever.” This makes Hot Springs National Park the oldest national park among current National Park units, predating Yellowstone National Park by forty years.

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