Warming up at Hot Springs

Most of the other campers were all next to each other along the river. Annie (our trailer) is just barely visible several rows back and all by itself.
Most of the other campers were all next to each other along the river. Annie (our trailer) is nearly invisible several rows back and all by itself.

We pulled into Gulpha Gorge Campground, the Hot Springs National Park Campground, and what a surprise. It was Tuesday and there were only three other campers there. The campground is beautiful and spacious with full hookups for only $30 a night. I’ve never heard of national park campgrounds with full hookups!

Our campsite. By the weekend we had a couple of neighbors, but still had a lot more elbow room than the campers packed together at the creek
Our campsite. By the weekend we had a couple of neighbors, but still had a lot more elbow room than the campers packed together at the creek

The other campers were all huddled together by the river, so we opted to go to the empty side of the campground with a long driveway and easy backup. What a beautiful place (although being near a busy road, the traffic is a bit noisy).

Hot Springs National Park was historically known for its healing waters. Doctors had actually prescribed their patients to bathe there. The water is odorless, colorless and flavorless. It is not in a volcanic region and so the natural process is different leaving the water very pleasant.

The visitor center is located in one of the old bath houses which now functions as something of a museum.
The visitor center is located in one of the old bath houses which now functions as something of a museum.

Wednesday morning, we had a nice slow start and then headed into town to the visitor center and to check out “Bath House Row”.  Although there are only two functioning bath houses now, the Buckstaff (for a traditional bath) and the Quapaw (modern pools), what an impressive place this must have been in the day. Fantastic architecture and some of the remnant of the interiors was amazing too. The visitor center is located inside one of the old bath houses and serves as a museum. You can take a self- guided tour through it. Then off to lunch at the oldest restaurant, The Ohio Club, for some tasty burgers. And finally a stroll down The Grand Promenade and back to the Beast and the campground for some more relaxation.

Wednesday seemed to bring more campers into the campground. Four arrived in the morning, and of course, parked down by the others at the river. But then another two arrived later, one in between us and the river group, and then one next to us. Oh my. I really cherished being alone.

The Gulpha Gorge trail river crossing
The Gulpha Gorge trail creek crossing

We took a long time to get started on Thursday. I think that we’ve been pushing so hard that some R&R was in order and this was not a bad place to get started. The temperatures were warm, the campground lovely and comfortable, and lots of good trails to walk. We planned to walk a long and more strenuous trail today and then soak in the hot pool for a while. Good plan. So we registered for another night.  We hiked the Gulpha Gorge Trail (very steep) up to the junction of the North Mountain Loop Drive, and then backtracked and walked a short trail over to Goat Rock. It was a good and strenuous hike. Back to Annie and then head into town to the modern Quapaw Bathhouse.

The exterior of the now modernized Quapaw Baths
The exterior of the now modernized Quapaw Baths

The pools are wonderful, super clean, and well attended to, but not cheap. It costs $20 per person, plus if you don’t have your own flip-flops, you have to buy their cheap but functional ones for $3 each. There are four big pools, all at different temperatures with waterfalls and jets. We of course, tried them all.  After a nice long soak, we wandered back to our campsite, made dinner, and were too relaxed to do any planning for travel the next day.

So the next morning, we woke up, and enjoyed another slow morning with a big breakfast and ample chill time. Okay, it’s Friday. I started looking at possibilities of where to travel tomorrow and realized that the campgrounds we wanted to head to were full for the weekend. Best plan is to stay put for the weekend. After all, it’s a great campground, it’s warm outside, and there is good hiking. We registered for the rest of the weekend.

Oma and Coda
Oma and Coda

After lunch, we took a nice long hike along the West Mountain Trail. Our dog has been very happy with the walks. Only problem was that I did find a tick, on his nose! But it is t- shirt weather and we’re in the woods. Perfect! After our wonderful hike,  we headed to a grocery store and back to the campsite. There were more campers now, but nowhere near full.

Gulpha Creek
Gulpha Creek

On Saturday, our last full day, we had a relaxing start, then headed out for one last beautiful hike. We walked the Hot Springs Mountain Trail this time. I can’t get over how beautifully developed these trails are. Of course, Coda was in heaven with so many new smells to check out. After our walk, we headed back to our campground. The picnic area and creek area were busy with people out to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Late afternoon we headed back into town to enjoy the fabulous hot pools for one last time. It was a great day!

We enjoyed our stay at Gulpha Gorge Campground and Hot Springs National Park immensely. What a wonderful getaway!

 

2 thoughts on “Warming up at Hot Springs”

  1. The trails look like great places for hiking. Sounds like you had a really good time here. I totally understand about cherishing being alone. When I put in my request to the Universe, I always include: pretty, quiet, and private!!! Where is this National Park? I am only familiar with the western states, but we might head to Texas next year to visit one of Clifford’s brothers.

    1. This was at Hot Springs, Arkansas. Great little National Park. If you have the senior pass, it’s only $15 per night with full hook ups. A real bargain for seniors.

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