Scenic Highway 7 – Hot Springs, Arkansas


Jo and Ross hiking at Hot Springs National Park

Gulpha Gorge Campground at Hot Springs National Park

Near the southern end of Arkansas Scenic Highway 7,  Hot Springs is one of our favorite stops. We generally stay at the Gulpha Gorge campground in Hot Springs National Park. It is an attractive campground among tall pine trees along Gulpha Creek. The drives in the park and the RV parking pads are paved. The RV sites have well engineered electric, water, and sewer stations and the tent sites can be either tent or RV use – dry camping. Only thing missing making this a five star National Forest campground are showers in the washrooms but otherwise they are modern and kept well-maintained.

gulpha gorge campground hiking trails
Jo and Ross hiking at Hot Springs National Park

Situated in a valley in the Zig-Zag mountain range Hot Springs is surrounded by hills. The National Park begins in the center of the city and encompasses the mountains to the east and west. So only minutes from downtown Hot Springs you can be in the woods several hundred feet above all the hustle and bustle of the city. Because of the National Park and Hot Springs history as a center of physical therapy the hills surrounding the city are laced with an extensive network of hiking trails. In fact these trails actually link Gulpha Gorge campground with downtown Hot Springs. On our most recent visit Jo and I hiked the Gulpha Gorge trail to the top of Hot Springs Mountain, then took the Goat Rock Trail on our return leg. A great 90 minute exercise with a number of scenic views.

Quapaw Bath House Hot Springs
Quapaw Bath House, Bathouse Row Hot Springs National Park
Quapaw Bath House Hot Springs
The Public Bath at Quapaw Bath House

The next day we decided to try out one of the famous mineral water spas in the historic Bathhouse Row. Of the several bathouses remaining in the historical preservation block two remain active – Quapaw and Buckstaff. We chose Quapaw because it had a package that fit our needs -a private spa for two. While the large public spa pools are refurbished versions of the pools from the 1920s our private spa room was somewhat newer and more modern – basically a Jacuzzi for two. So we didn’t step back 90 years to sample a replica of what had been in the heyday of Quapaw. But none-the-less the spa was soothing – you could feel something different in the water – it wasn’t the same as our hot tub at home. But afterword Jo and I decided next time we’d have a go at the public pool because you could move around more and get a little water aerobic exercise. And the public spa is a from the original bath house.

Private Spa Quapaw Bath House
Jo enjoying the private spa at the Quapaw Bath House

More about visiting Hot Springs National Park

More about the Highway 7 Scenic Byway

–Ross

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