We left Texas on Sunday morning, March 5th, bound for Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Since Google told us it was only a two-hour drive, we decided to ease off I-30 at the Hope, AR exit and visit the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site. Since it was fairly early on a Sunday, we were the first visitors of the day, and only visitors during our 60’ish-minute stay.
Hot Springs National Park is one of the more unusual National Parks we have visited. Surrounding the downtown area of Hot Springs, the National Park area is made up of many of the historic bathhouses and the surrounding hills that are responsible for the springs. Through concessionaires, the National Park Service still operates a couple of the bathhouses. Anna even availed herself of their services and took the waters one morning.
We stayed at the National Park’s Gulpha Gorge Campground, located a few miles outside of town. Gulpha Gorge ranks on the higher end of the National Park campgrounds in which we’ve stayed. With FULL HOOK-UPS, a low National Park price, and a scenic riverfront location, we could not have asked for a better place to stay.
While the main attraction at Hot Springs National Park is Bathhouse Row, there is a nice wilderness area with hiking trails, a scenic loop road, and a tower. The downtown area is an easy walk from the campground via the hiking trails that traverse Hot Springs Mountain. In fact, on our last full afternoon in Hot Springs, Owen and I hiked into town to turn-in his Junior Ranger booklet. Anna met us with the truck and after the awarding of the Junior Ranger Badge, we all walked next door to the Superior Bathhouse Brewery to celebrate both his Junior Ranger Badge and his successful hike over the “mountain.”
Our stay at Hot Springs was limited to three nights and that felt just about right. Arriving early on our first day and having two additional full days to explore gave us enough time to visit the sites, take the waters, work on school, and run some errands without feeling rushed.
On Wednesday morning, March 8th, we hitched up and headed towards Tennessee. We considered stopping in Little Rock to visit the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, but navigating the city with the trailer looked a little daunting after the recent curb-rash fiasco. Also, during the school year, reservations are required to visit the school and we hadn’t put that much planning into our potential visit. So, regretfully, we bypassed Little Rock and rolled into Memphis later that day.