We missed a post there – for good reason too! We traveled to a family reunion and then visited Hot Springs National Park in that time and I want to share a few highlights from a successful National Parks trip.
Hot Springs National Park is a bit different than my stereotype of a National Park. Yes, there are wonderful hiking trails through gorgeous forests – but the park also sits in the middle of a bustling small city. The park centers around a natural wonder – hot springs – but that substantial exploitation happened before the park’s formation. Instead, the park preserves the cultural history of the early 20th century exploitation of the hot springs. This makes Hot Springs National Park rather unique in the American National Parks system.
Most of the hot springs are capped now, to protect the water from contamination. We were fortunate to see two workers testing the waters from one of these collection points and they invited us to take a look underneath the cap. Seeing through the vapor was difficult, but we could see the pipes bringing water from two springs to the collection point. The Park Service tests waters from 35 of the springs each week to overserve the long term patterns of mineral content and observe for any possible signs of geological changes impacting the springs.
The Grand Promenade and bathhouses are the main attractions here and we had a great time exploring the Fordyce bathhouse visitor center. Some of the bathing equipment looked more like medieval torture devices to my eye!
Little Man worked hard to become a Junior Ranger. This makes three parks (with Great Sand Dunes and Rocky Mountain) for his collection of Junior Ranger badges. His favorite activity was finding all the capped springs, followed by matching architectural features of the bathhouses with their names.
Mr. Wigglesworth moved between riding in a carrier on Rachael’s back and my arms. He has now visited two American National Parks – 57 more to go! We’ll make sure he gets another look at Hot Springs when he’s a little older too.