Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hot Springs, Arkansas

On Sunday, Ron and I joined our singles RV club (WIN) at DeGray Lake just south of Hot Springs. This is another lovely Corps of Engineers lake and campground with many tall trees. We had to try three sites before we found one where we could get satellite TV. (Now I know many people are thinking, "Why do you need TV in a campground?" Well, you have to remember this is our life and TV is a part of life.) Although the signal was weak because it was going through some branches, it worked fine on Sunday night. However when I turned it on the next night, the signal had dropped and it no longer worked. I couldn't believe it but the leaves had grown enough that they blocked the signal. Well, my hero moved again just so I would have TV. What a guy!

This is the first stop in a series of WIN gatherings in Arkansas and Missouri, the focus of which is kayaking these gorgeous rivers. We kayaked today and I'll post that later, but yesterday we toured Hot Springs National Park. This is a really unique park. Although it does encompass mountains with lots of hiking trails, the main focus is the historical Bathhouse Row right in the middle of town. These bathhouses used the natural hot springs and catered to crowds of vacationers and health seekers during their heyday from the 1880s to the 1950s.

In 1915 reviews proclaimed the Fordyce Bathhouse (below) the best in Hot Springs. It is now the park visitor center and has been restored to its original splendor.

We toured the bathhouse and saw some odd and scary equipment. This in particular looked like an instrument of torture, but it's a sauna using the 143 degree steam of the natural hot springs. Only the person's head peeked out the top. I can't imagine anything worse!

They did have a fancy stained glass ceiling to admire while they steamed. (Picture stolen from our friend Peggy)

The National Park Service is working to restore Bathhouse Row to its original beauty. I thought this one was particularly lovely.

Since 1985 the Buckstaff is the only traditional bathhouse on Bathhouse Row still in operation. You can indulge in a tub bath, shower, steam cabinet, hot and cold packs, whirlpool, and massage. Still doesn't appeal to me.

For lunch we went to an Ecuadorian restaurant recommended by Susan, a WIN who lives in Hot Springs and is hosting this gathering. Since I have what might be called very discriminating tastes (unbelievably picky), I wasn't sure if I would like it. When the food was served, we all raved how beautifully it was presented. I just had to take a picture. And it was delicious!

This third reincarnation of the Arlington Hotel opened in 1924. The Arlington has hosted both the famous and infamous over the years.

I couldn't resist a picture of the lovely azalea blooms that were all over town.


  1. Us native Hot Springers simply love it when visitors like you are having a good time in our city! My hubby and I visited here only one day six years ago before we decided to move here three months later.

    Named as the No. 1 place in America to retire by geographer Warren Bland , Hot Springs' was confirmed as a top retirement destination on a recent Today Show segment by realtor Barbara Corcoran.

    I gotta admit, Hot Springs is a pretty cool place to live, even for those of us who aren't yet retired.

    To get a sneak preview, check out Spa Vlogger.

    Rebecca McCormick,
    Travel Journalist and Photographer, The Sentinel-Record

  2. OK, now I can chop 1,000 miles off my summer travels (and save a bunch of fuel money) since I don't have to go to Hot Springs, AK now. Thanks for the tour!!! But, pleasd do a hot soak vicariously for me. Thanks!!!

  3. The Fordyce Bathhouse/visitors center is beautiful!
    I think I am missing something by living in an area that I dislike :-(

    Love your photos and write-ups.

  4. Been there, done that. We stayed at Lake Ouachita. Bob's sister lives at Hot Springs Village. Check out the beautiful rocks at Jesseville rock store. Some cost 1000's of dollars.

  5. Beautiful pictures! I can't wait to get there in a few days. And lunch looks yummy too!