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 became the world's first national park. From prehistoric natives forward, people have been using the 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 Bathhouse Row
structures 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. Its visitors center is located in the restored Fordyce Bathhouse, which is open to self-guided tours. The park is located in and around downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas's top tourist destination. (800) SPA-CITY.
National Park: 501-624-2701; www.nps.gov/hosp/.