Basically, the entire point of this trip was to hit states that we've never been to. Oh, and also to have fun. Originally, we were trying to get out west to Colorado and Utah, but time didn't really permit us going that far. Instead, we settled for Arkansas as our only new state of the trip. We chose Hot Springs National Park as our destination because it sounded so cool!
We didn't really get why, but we had some trouble finding a campground near the National Park. You'd think that a place as full of nature and scenic beauty as a national park would have tons of camping, right? We decided to stay at a state park that was about 30 minutes from Hot Springs.
The campground was beautiful, and since it was the dead of winter, there was hardly anyone there. It was perfect for our style of camping! We got an incredible site right on the lake in our own private little circle. I'd say it was the best site of the whole trip.
The next morning, we did some research on where to go to find the best hiking trails in Hot Springs National Park. Two popped up. One was a hike to a lookout over the entire park and there was another one that seemed like a longer hike through the woods. Either sounded great, so we set off.
As the GPS got us closer and closer to the national park, something seemed off. Instead of heading into the woods, it seemed like there were going into a major city. Traffic started picking up and buildings got bigger and denser. Finally, the GPS said we had arrived. We looked around at the busy streets, large buildings, and dozens of shops and restaurants. We saw the sign that said "Hot Springs National Park," but couldn't believe that it was accurate. Where was the park!?
We kept driving in disbelief, looking for the hiking trails they spoke of on the internet. We found a sign that said scenic lookout, but it wasn't much of a hike. It was more like a windy drive up a hill. At the top, there was a massive observation tower and a few little sidewalks. Every parking space was filled and people were lined up all over the streets. We fought the crowd just long enough to get a picture of the "park" below.
Needless to say, it wasn't the national park we were expecting. We drove back down to the main street and parked the car in the massive "Hot Springs National Park Parking Garage." Yes, it had a parking garage. Our hike consisted of walking up and down the busy streets, looking into shop windows at the high-end gift shops we couldn't even afford to go inside of. We definitely stood out wearing our dirty adventure gear amidst the droves of people wearing polo shirts and khakis.
We did find some hot springs, though. They were tiny little fountains scattered around the streets and built into sidewalks. Honestly, it wasn't super impressive. There were a ton of bathhouses lining the main street that use the natural hot springs, which is pretty cool but not something we were really into - or could afford.
We finally gave up looking for anything naturey and stopped in at a little pizza place. If we can't hike through the woods, we might as well get some pizza! It was probably the highlight of Hot Springs National Park.
Hot Springs wasn't quite the national park that we were expecting, but it was a fun trip nonetheless. If you enjoy high-end boutiques, brunches, and bathhouses, I'd highly suggest it. For people looking for dirt, trees, and hiking, maybe stick with the nearby state parks.
After an interesting adventure in Hot Springs, we were westbound and down to our main destination: Fort Worth, Texas.
He likes pizza.