Day 4 – Hot Springs, Arkansas 

April 25

We camped at Gulpha Gorge which is part of the Hot Springs National Park. The park includes Bathhouse Row in the historic part of Hot Springs. 

After driving for the last three days, we were ready for a break. So we decided to hike to the historic section and back. 

We crossed over the creek and followed the Gulpha Gorge Trail up the mountain and then took the Hot Springs Mountain Trail that follows the ridgeline. 

There was a great view from the top.

We opted to skip the Observation Deck.

We continued along to reach the Shortcut Trail & then the Dead Chief Trail.

Doing that put us out on the Grand Promenade right behind the bathhouses. It is a lovely, patterned brick, wide walkway. It is easy to imagine couples dressed in their finest strolling along it.

Going to the end put us close to the end of Bathhouse Row. 

In 1832, the federal government set aside this area to reserve the springs. Considering this was before National Parks and the Civil War, it was an unlikely action. In 1921, it became the 18th National Park.

Hot Springs National Park

The architecture of this area is notable. In 1913, there was a huge fire that burned most of the buildings along the main street.

Because of that, the majority of the buildings around this area were built soon after in an art deco style. The details caught my eye. 

And the lines.

The bathhouses were designed to attract the rich and wealthy, so they are build in a variety of styles. 

Quapaw Bathhouse is built in a Spanish Colonial Revival style. It has been restored and offers spa /bath services. Of course, it is closed on Tuesdays.

The Fordyce is built in a Renaissance Revival style. It was the most impressive bathhouse at the height of the Bathhouse period.

It was extensively restored and is now the Visitor Center for the National Park.  

It was early afternoon at this point, so we stopped at the Superior Bathhouse for lunch.

It was built in a Classical Revival style. It is currently operated as a brewery and restaurant. 

Superior Bathhouse

The food was really good and fresh. Jon tried their root beer and found it tasty.

We toured the Fordyce visitor center and museum. The restoration was extensive and there are lots of attractive features.

It was interesting to see what kinds of health therapies have come and gone in the last 100 years. 

Hydrotherapy is still in use.

Physical exercise is still important, just the types of activities. I’m surprised that Cross fit isn’t incorporated traveling rings in their training programs.

After the Fordyce, we continued walking down the main street checking out the sights. 

Once we felt like we had seen enough, we hiked back to the campground via a little less hilly a route. We walked about 7 1/2 miles with a lot of elevation.


Jon and I were both hot and tired by the time we got back to the campsite. So we spent time hanging out, talking with other campers, cooling off, getting organized, etc. 

We are heading out tomorrow. A big storm front is coming through in the morning.

On our way out, we passed by the observation deck at the top of the hill we climbed. We definitely had a lot of elevation to climb on that hike.


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