My visit: September, 2006
Located in the “Diamond Lakes Region” of the scenic Ouachita Mountains, many Native American tribes gathered in this valley for untold years. Since this was considered sacred ground, it was neutral territory and warrier weapons were put aside as they bathed in the healing waters of the thermal springs. Their name for the area was “Valley of the Vapors.” DeSoto was the first European to see it in 1541.
It became America’s first resort, and is now the oldest, smallest and most urban National Park – the only one located within city limits. Its waters are thermal, not mineral, and has been documented as some of the cleanest and purest in the world. Referred to as “The city that bathes the world,” here you will find rich history and beautiful architecture. Use the many hiking trails to explore the more natural wonders, or enjoy a relaxing bath massage and spa – all in the historic downtown area.
Walking along Bathhouse Row is like a trip back in time to the 1900’s when thousands flocked here to bathe in the waters, believing that soaking here cured conditions such as arthritis and other ailments.
Quapaw Bathhouse was completed in 1922 and has the unique feature of a Moorish style dome.
Fordyce Bathhouse, once the most elaborate of the bathhouses, is now restored and houses the Hot Springs National Park visitor center. Don’t miss a visit here – there are three stories to explore and the movie of the early days of the springs is interesting.
The lobby – can’t you just imagine the ladies and gentlemen sitting here waiting for their turn at the baths, hoping for relief from whatever was ailing them.
Glass ceiling in the men’s bath area at Fordyce.
This steam box looked like some kind of medieval torture chamber to me.
The Buckstaff has been in continuous service since 1912 and is the only remaining operational bath house within the boundaries of the park.