Hot Springs National Park Review & Pictures [Hot Springs, AR, USA]

Hot Springs National Park is located in the lush woods of southwest Arkansas. The area received its name from the hot mountain springs that provide the surrounding land with abundant fresh water. Whilst the town of Hot Springs, AR is famous for spas and baths, the neighboring national park is home to some beautiful trails and scenic vistas.

Link: http://www.nps.gov/hosp/index.htm

Address: 369 Central Avenue, Hot Springs AR 71901

Price: Free

Hot Springs Mountain Tower

Hot Springs Mountain Tower
Observation tower providing a 360 degree view of Hot Springs town and park.

Admission to the top was $7.00 for adults. I have mixed emotions on whether or not I would recommend this to anyone else as I think it is a skippable part of the park. Nonetheless, enjoy the pictures I took from up there!

Northwest vantage point
Looking northwest over a sea of fall colors.
View of Hot Springs Town
View of Hot Springs Town.

Hot Springs Mountain Trail

The Hot Springs Mountain trail is the most popular trail in the park and is a 1.7-mile loop around the peak with great views of the immense forest. I strongly recommend this trail if you are passing through and only have an hour.

Fall-path
Almost all the paths were covered with amazing fallen leaves.
Red Leaves
Our favorite leaves.
Lion King
Queue Lion King intro.

Gulpha Gorge Trail

The route we took followed Hot Springs Mountain trail to Gulpha Gorge to Goat Rock Trail. The Gulpha Gorge Section was approximately a quarter mile.

Goat Rock Trail

The infamous GOAT ROCK! Just kidding, but this was our favorite section of the day hike. Follow a rocky staircase and reach the top of Goat Rock overlooking a beautiful view.

Goat Rock View.
View from Goat Rock.
Hangin' out.
Hangin’ out.
Pose
Practicing my Lewis & Clark pose.

Dogwood Trail (Upper Loop)

Continuing on the trail through the beautiful forest. We honestly couldn’t have had better weather or better time of year to visit.

RIP Leaves.
RIP Leaves.
Switchbacks!
Switchbacks!
Stoplight Trees
Stoplight Trees: Red, Yellow, Green.
Holy leaf
Holy leaf
Waterfall
I wouldn’t drink this spring water.

Hot Springs: The Town

Hot Springs is also a tourist destination for the local shopping and entertainment. After we finished the 4ish miles of hiking we went into town to grab some great Italian food at Angel’s.

Central Ave.
View down Central Ave.

The following day we went into town for our spa treatment, which I’ll write about further in this article.

Sunset Trail & Balanced Rock

The longest trail (Sunset Trail, 13 miles) is on the West side of the park. Thankfully there are different entrance and exit points that make sections of the trail accessible without the 26 mile round trip.

We drove north on Cedar Glades Rd until we got to a tiny offroad parking lot. From there the trip was 1.3 miles uphill to Balanced Rock.

Hiking Sunset Trail
Hiking Sunset Trail, all uphill.
Balanced Rock
All hail the balanced rock!
Our Spot
We sat on top of this rock for our view of the sunset.

We were determined to see the sunset on Sunset Trail, and the experience did not fall short of breathtaking.

Sun rays through the forest
Sun rays through the forest.
Sunset: Step 1
Sunset: Step 1
Sunset: Step Two
Sunset: Step Two
Sunset: Step Three
Sunset: Step Three
Picture from Phone
Picture from my Phone, so you can imagine how amazing this was to witness in person.

This was the highlight of the trip and made the long drive from Houston, TX worth it. I would strongly recommend you make a trip up to Balanced Rock for a sunset.

Review & Recommendations

I have high expectations for US National Parks. Smaller parks, like Hot Springs, have to compete against Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, etc. for funding and resources. With that in mind, I give Hot Springs National Park a 4 out of 5 on my imaginary scale of National Park Rankings.

This is a wonderful place to take the family for a weekend or escape into some longer trails (Sunset Trail). The views are beautiful and were amazing to see in Fall. That being said, there is no “WOW” factor besides the sunset.

I would recommend the trails we took and sites we saw. The worst part of the trip was paying $55 for a 20 minute spa bath… never again.

Thank you for reading and please ask any questions with the comments!

Sunset View
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