Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Soak Your Troubles Away
Banjar Hot SpringsLess than a mile from the village of Banjar in northern Bali, this hot spring is a relaxing 98.6 degrees. The hot spring water pours from the mouths of 8 stone-carved naga (mythical, dragon-like creatures) into a rectangular-shaped pool. 960 1280
Calistoga Spa Hot SpringsHead to Napa Valley for a dip in this mineral pool, one of 4 geothermally heated pools on the grounds of Calistoga Spa Hot Springs hotel in Calistoga, CA. Recline in waters ranging from 80 to 104 degrees, while enjoying the surrounding beauty of nearby Mt. St. Helena. 960 1280
Dunton Hot SpringsA century ago, miners in southwestern Colorado soothed aching bones in these natural hot tubs. Today, the tradition continues: Choose from among 5 different pools, the hottest of which reaches 106 degrees. The wine-red waters are rich in iron and magnesium, with a dash of lithium. 960 1280
Cascate del MulinoTake a dip in the most famous natural springs in southern Tuscany. Consisting of several natural pools of warm thermal water, the Cascate del Mulino are open to the public -- and free -- throughout the year. At a warm 99.5 degrees year-round, the waters contain properties that have been known to help skin, digestive and circulatory ailments since Roman times. 960 1280
Banff Upper Hot SpringsWith the spectacular Canadian Rockies just beyond, settle into the soothing waters of Banff Upper Hot Springs. Located in the town of Banff, these hot springs were discovered in 1884 and continue to draw visitors with their year-round temperatures between 98 and 104 degrees. Minerals such as bicarbonate, which may assist in opening peripheral blood vessels and improve circulation to the body’s extremities, can be found in the waters. 960 1280
PamukkaleFor thousands of years, people have bathed in the hot springs of Pamukkale, located 12 miles north of the city of Denizli in southwestern Turkey. The hot springs, 17 in all, are saturated with calcium. When the calcium cools on the hillside, it forms a white limestone known as travertine. This explains the name of the hot springs -- literally translated as “cotton castle.” 960 1280
Big Bend Hot SpringsAfter a long day of hiking through Big Bend National Park, consider a dip in these hot springs -- 105 degrees bubbling up from a hole in the ground. The water carries dissolved mineral salts that some say have healing powers. Just make sure you limit the exposure of little kids to these warm waters -- they can feel super-hot in summer! 960 1280
Arenal Hot SpringsUntil 2010, Arenal in Costa Rica was one of the 10 most active volcanoes in the world. Arenal has been calming down, leaving room for travelers to kick back in area hot springs, heated by an underground geothermal river. 960 1280
Lava Hot SpringsWho says Idaho is all about potatoes? The small, sleepy town of Lava Hot Springs (population: 407) is noted for its many hot springs, suitable for bathing as well as a bumpy inner tube run through part of town. The waters range from 102 to 112 degrees. 960 1280
Blue LagoonThis outdoor geothermal spa owes its steamy waters to a lava field in the fishing town of Grindavik on Iceland’s southwestern coast. The waters are rich in minerals such as silica and sulfur, and is said to help people suffering from skin conditions like psoriasis. 960 1280
Ma'In Hot SpringsMix a journey back into ancient times with a relaxing reprieve in the Middle East. Situated 866 feet below sea level, this hot freshwater mineral spring and waterfall offers a refreshing spa experience. The hot springs are located on the edge of Wadi Mujib, a gorge in Jordan that feeds the Dead Sea; nearby attractions include the Tomb of Moses (Nabi Musa) and the city of Petra (about 3 hours by car). 960 1280
Grutas de Tolantongo, MexicoAbout 125 miles from Mexico City is a small canyon with steep walls called Tolantongo. Near the bottom of the steep box canyon are heated pools, as well as warm waterfalls that flow down the steep canyon walls. 960 1280
Yangbajing, TibetWelcome to the highest altitude hot springs in the world. Set at an altitude of 14,764 feet above sea level, these hot springs are located about 54 miles northwest of Tibet’s capital city of Lhasa. While taking a dip, visitors can view the far-off snow-covered Nyainqen Tanggula mountain range. 960 1280
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Touted as having therapeutic qualities, the pure, odorless and tasteless waters flowing from hot springs have been enjoyed by both bathers and drinkers for centuries. At Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, these springs were considered so valuable that in 1832, Congress designated them a reservation, technically making it the first national park in the United States. Flowing from Hot Springs Mountain, these 47 hot springs became a popular attraction for visitors seeking therapeutic relief, or just simple, steamy relaxation. Eight historic bathhouses form Bathhouse Row, including the elegant Fordyce Bathhouse cum Visitor Center, and comprise a National Historic Landmark District.
An indulgent thermal bath is a must for any visitor to Hot Springs, and there are no lack of bathhouse concessioners in the park's surrounding area. Behind Bathhouse Row is the lovely Grand Promenade, where great views of the protected springs and landscape can be taken in during a post-bath stroll. Should the steamy springs make a visitor drowsy, the 25-plus miles of hiking trails winding through the park will be an invigorating change of pace. Trekkers who reach the observation tower at the top of Hot Springs Mountain will be rewarded with views of the verdant Ouachita Mountains.
Hot springs form when water moves through minuscule passages in the rock face of the earth, reaching deep into the hot crust. Upon being heated, the water is energized and returns quickly to the surface through vents.
Tour historic Fordyce Bathhouse, now home to the park's visitor center, and take a self-guided tour to learn about the geological history of the waters, and how the 800,000-plus gallons of water that pass through the springs are used. Stroll the Grand Promenade, visit the eight bathhouses and explore some of the many miles of hiking trails that twist through the mountain.
Where to Stay
Proud to have been the first B&B in Arkansas, the 1890 William House oozes charm and hospitality. The inn's six well-appointed rooms feature 12-foot ceilings, sitting areas and an array of antiques. Five of the rooms offer private whirlpool tubs.
Where else can folks slap their knee to the rhythm of a banjo while learning to blacksmith and play the dulcimer, besides the fantastic Ozark Folk Center? For visitors who have yearned to do a jig while listening to folk-music jam sessions, this historic site is the place to go. Take a lye soap-making class, or learn basic woodcarving. Young and old will be delighted to pay homage to the fascinating culture of the Ozarks. The center is a four-hour drive from Hot Springs.
Where: Located in the city of Hot Springs along the southern edge of Hot Springs Mountain
Hours: The park and Gulpha Gorge campground are open year-round. The visitor center is open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and until 6 p.m. from May 28 through Aug. 12.
Activities: Hot springs and Bathhouse Row, auto tours, hiking, camping, bird-watching, interpretive programs
Getting there: The local Hot Springs Memorial Field or Little Rock National Airport are the nearest airports.