Set a date, visit the Hot springs in the Ouachita Mountains, and get a different outdoor experience. You will have a fun-filled holiday while in Hot Springs, a city with a rich history and tourist attraction sites. Hot Springs is near the national park, lakes, and historic buildings. So, if you’re visiting this city, you’ll have plenty of activities to do all day long.
Are you visiting Hot springs for the first time and don’t know where to start or the things to do? This guide will enable you to know the best things to do and where within Hot Springs to enjoy your favorite activity.
Where are Hot Springs Located in the Ouachita Mountains
Hot Springs is a city within Arkansas state. It’s surrounded by the Hot Springs National Park, within the Ouachita mountains. The phenomenal mountains were formed due to tectonic orogeny 300 million years ago, forming the zig-zag pattern.
The beautiful scenery surrounding the Hot Springs, like the national parks, rivers, and lakes, makes it a good tourist destination. For example, the Hot Springs National Park has steep mountainous terrain suitable for various outdoor activities.
The park has 400 million old sedimentary rocks like sandstone, shale, and novaculite formed in the deep ocean, where the Ouachita mountains currently are. Under the rocks oozes hot water rich in minerals like Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Calcium Carbonate. The city is also rich in history as it has historic sites and buildings which are worth setting foot on.
Go Out for Picnics
There are several spots within Hot Springs where you can go for picnics and interact with nature as well. You can go to the Ozark National Forest and enjoy your date in the peaceful woods. You can also go to the wonderful picnic sites at Lake Catherine State Park along Lake Catherine and have fun all day. We can get snacks and drinks at the marina on the lake, so there is no need to pack heavy while coming here.
You will also have some memorable moments picnicking around Pinnacle Mountain State Park. While here, you can go to the Park Visitor Center and picnic if you’re not in large numbers. But if you’re a bigger group, reserve a pavilion and have lovely times.
Related: Why Visit the Ouachita Mountains
Hot Springs will give you the best opportunity to hike on well-maintained trails if you love hiking. Pinnacle mountain has 15 miles of trails where you can sweat as you target your destination. There are also 7 miles of challenging track here for those ready to give their muscles a real test.
Ouachita National Forest will also allow you to have wonderful trail moments in the woods. Hiking in Lake Catherine State Park will also see you walk on the beautiful trails.
What stands out while hiking around Hot Springs is the beautiful scenery. For example, the Lake Catharine 2-mile falls trail leads to a breathtaking waterfall. You will also encounter calm waters, which are calming to the soul and good for relaxing. The trails are also well maintained, and there are clean shelters you can relax on after a long day.
Explore the Waters by Swimming
Hot springs will give you a whole different experience through their hot water tabs if you love swimming. You can soak in any thermal water spots around, like in the historic establishments around bathhouse row.
For example, you can go to the Buckstaff Bathhouse and swim in the hot waters. The hot water in the park is full of beneficial minerals which help the body nourish, calcium is good for the development of bones. So, take a dip in the waters and have a lifetime testimony about your skin.
Swimming in the lakes will also do your body great on a hot day. Go swimming in Lake Ouachita, which has clean and clear waters that are safe for your body. The shoreline beaches are also buoyed off, giving you a chance to swim in a big water body without worries.
Swimming in DeGray Lake will also enable you to have a whole new experience while in Hot Springs. But you can also have a family swim session at the Magic Springs Theme and water park.
It’s one of the best waters with all age’s activities like rides. It’s also a clean facility with a wave pool, lazy river, and waterslides which ensure everyone gets something to enjoy.
Set out to Fish
Fishing is a fun water activity you shouldn’t miss doing while in Hot Springs. The water bodies around will provide you with fresh, delicious fish at any time. You can hire a boat, bait at the marinas, and go deep into the lake for specific fish species.
However, there are some fish species you can catch in open waters along the shore or under the weed. Lake Ouachita is one of the best fishing grounds you can ever fish on. The lake has a variety of fish like crappie, catfish, bass, and bream.
Anglers will also love fishing at the Lake Catharine fishing pier, which gives them the thrill of catching the best fish. You can also fish in the streams and rivers in Ouachita National Forest if you’re not in big water bodies. The Little Maumelle River is ideal for catching channel catfish or largemouth bass.
Since you can fish at any spot within the lakes or rivers, everyone can go fishing in this area regardless of age. However, you need to follow the local guidelines to avoid rubbing shoulders with the authorities.
Picking Valuable Minerals
The novaculite rock comprises quartz, a precious stone you can come across. In Hot Springs Park, there are several quartz mining pits you will come across. The quartz is readily available along the paths, and you can collect them as souvenirs.
Another area where you can pick diamonds around the Hot Springs is the Crater of Diamonds State Park. It’s one of the public places globally where one can look for a real diamond and carry them home. The 37-acre land has an eroded surface with a volcanic crater that attracts people worldwide. You can also find other minerals, gemstones, and precious rocks.
As a visitor, you’re not allowed to carry battery-operated mining tools. However, you can come with the other types of mining tools and try your luck.
Visit Historic Sites
There are several historical sites you can visit while in Hot Springs to enrich your history of the area. Go to the Petit Jean State Park, which has a lot of historic treasures. Initially, this place was home to several visitors who came to view the natural treasures.
It was the first state park in Hot Springs and hosted natural beauty and ancient geology. The park currently has a rugged mountain with a rustic style, stone facilities, and native logs. The historic Mather lodge is also here, and it has a 24 rooms spa facing the Cedar Creek Cayon and a restaurant.
The Mid-America Science Museum is also a tourist attraction site you should purpose to visit. It has an underground cave with various geological displays. You can also see the massive Tesla Coil and other fascinating scenes like sculptures of dinosaurs and the skywalk.
Also, visit the Buckstaff Bathhouse with an illustrious building that many visitors long to see. The building boasts of its Romano-Gothic architecture, and it’s a place where you can do your facials, manicure, or massages after a long day in the sun.
Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center is also another historical site to visit. It was initially a massage and electrotherapy center between 1915 and 1962. Currently, it’s a visitors’ center where you can see the historic building with the outfitted stained-glass ceilings and ceramic fountains.
Capture Moments Through Photography
A better way to spend your day around the Hot Springs is by taking photographs of the outstanding scenery. Visit the Garvan Woodland Garden, which has artificial and natural attractions, and take some of your best pictures. You can capture the flowers, the appealing Antony Chapel Complex, and the stone bridges.
You will also get a chance to capture the wild animals as you walk around the trails or camp along the islands. Photographing the city’s topography from different angles and viewing spots is also an ideal thing to keep you busy all through.
Your love for camping can be a fulfilling experience if you do it around Hot Springs. Ozark National Forest offers a good camping site. You can also camp at the Ouachita National Forest, which several agencies manage to ensure the trees, wildlife, and humans who come here are safe.
Camping along Lake Ouachita will also give you a lifetime memory as it has several islands where you can pitch your tent and live. Around the lake Ouachita State Park, there are about 93 campsites with camper cabins which gives you a different outdoor stay.
The camping sites come in handy for those planning to go for long trail hiking or boating while exploring the islands around the water bodies. When camping anywhere within Hot Springs, be careful of wild animals and avoid their food paths. Also, have company to make it more fun in the wilderness.
Learn How to Hunt
If you’ve never tried hunting, this is the best opportunity to learn the tricks in the bush. Hot Springs have several forests with edible wildlife animals which you can hunt down. You can hunt for animals like hawks, deer, turkeys, or squirrels.
After a successful trip, cook the catch around your camping ground. You can also hunt for fun just to sharpen your prowess in the art.
Ozark National Forest and Ouachita National Forest are some of the good grounds for hunting.
Go Partying and Listen to Music
You can also take a break from Hot Springs’ natural attractions and go make merry in the clubs. Go to the nightclubs and grab your favorite drink while waiting for dawn. The restaurants around the beaches will also enable you to have wonderful night moments as the cool breezes sweep away the sweat from continuous dancing.
If you want, try your luck at the casinos around. Walk to the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and earn some extra money. Riding the horses around will also keep you entertained for some time. But don’t forget to taste various dishes as you relax away from nature.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Hot Springs in the Ouachita Mountains?
Purpose to visit Hot Springs between August and October when the weather is warmer to play in the waters. You can also come between February to April when the temperatures are favorable for outdoor activities.
These months won’t affect your health as much as the chilling cold season. Also, you’ll get various offers which can help reduce costs of visiting plus enjoy basking in the sun.
If you come to Hot Springs in October, you’ll get an opportunity to attend the Hot Springs documentary film festival. Also, there will be beauty all around as the forests around will be orange, gold, and red, unlike the usual green trees.
The temperatures in August range from time to time. The highs in the low are 90 degrees, while in the upper, it is in the 60s. as it moves to October, the highs drop to mid-70s while the lows to 50 degrees.
But the season between February and April is when most visitors come in large numbers. The large crowds enjoy the warm weather through different outdoor activities. The highs are from the mid-50s-mid ’70s, while the lows are about 50 degrees.
There is never a dull moment while in Hot Springs Ouachita, as the city has several activities that will keep you busy and thrilled. You can go to the waters and fish, swim or boat. Go to the forest and hunt, hike, or camp if you like. But first, you need to identify the best time to visit Hot Springs to enjoy these activities alongside favorable weather.
In addition to Ouachita Mountains Hot Springs you also have other options below.