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Hot Springs National Park

The rare natural features of Hot Springs National Park were first protected when Congress declared the area a "reservation" in 1832, some 40 years before Yellowstone, making it the first national park, according to the National Park Service. From prehistoric natives forward, people have been using the thermal hot springs for therapeutic baths for millennia. To replace earlier wooden structures susceptible to fire, a row of luxurious stone and masonry bathhouses was constructed in the early 1900s along Central Avenue of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Now, the remaining Bathhouse Row structures in Hot Springs National Park are part of a National Historic Landmark District and represent the grandest collection of such bathhouses in North America.

While preserving an array of 47 hot springs and their watershed, the park provides hiking trails, scenic drives, camping and picnic areas. Throughout the town of Hot Springs, which surrounds the park, there are plenty of lodging properties, ranging from bed and breakfasts, historic and modern hotels to lakefront condos, cabins and cottages. The Hot Springs National Park visitors center is located in the restored Fordyce Bathhouse, which is open to free self-guided tours. Hot Springs National Park is located in and around downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas's top tourist destination. (800) SPA-CITY.

For more information about Hot Springs National Park, call or visit: 501-624-2701; www.nps.gov/hosp/.

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