With Hot Springs only an hour away from Little Rock, we couldn’t pass up the chance to cross off another National Park from our list. We didn’t have high expectations (or really any for that matter) for Hot Springs, but we were pleasantly surprised with all that we found there.
Hot Springs has a population of about 30,000 and the town is centered around Bathhouse Row which is a series of ornately designed bath houses that were constructed in the early 1900’s. While only one of the bathhouses is still open for business, the rest are under the care of the Park Service, which has done a wonderful job restoring them to their opulent glory. With stained glass windows, rich wood doors, and marble throughout, you could see why wealthy people from across the US flocked to Hot Springs during the “Golden Age of Bathing.”
Our campsite was located inside the national park and abutted Gulpha Creek which the kids really enjoyed playing in even though the weather was pretty cool (shocking for the Silver kids, I know). Despite it’s small size, the campsite provided easy access to several trails including one that we followed to the downtown area where Maggie and I were able to enjoy few beers at a brewery that had opened inside one of the historic bathhouses. Liam of course also picked up another ranger badge, and the kids enjoyed a sweet treat in the city park near one of the piping hot springs.
In addition to exploring the downtown area and hiking trails, we spent a full day enjoying the Garvan Woodland Gardens. They had the most amazing children’s garden full of huge boulders and waterfalls for climbing, koi ponds, a fairy garden and even a few resident peacocks. It was a big hit with everyone.
We couldn’t end this post without mentioning our good fortune in Hot Springs. Prior to leaving Florida, one of our trailer windows had the glass broken out of the frame (long story but suffice to say we now make sure that the kids have not reopened any windows before we depart a location). We took the frame to a glass shop, but were told it could not be fixed and that we’d have to order a whole new window from the manufacturer. When we contacted the dealer, they said it would take a month to have it delivered and would cost $300. I decided to go with a trash bag and piece of cardboard instead. Upon arriving in Hot Springs, our neighbor Pat, who was from Fort Collins and was a recently retired handyman, commented on the window and told us that he had a truck full of tools and would like to try to fix it for us. I went to Lowes and got some plexiglass and about 2 hours later, we had a fully functional window and all it cost us was a $40 bottle of Crown Royal (Pat’s favorite spirit). We can’t say enough about Pat’s kindness and hope that if we’re ever in a similar position to help a fellow camper out that we’re as generous as Pat was with his time and skills.