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Hot Springs National Park Turns 86, Kind Of


    If you just focus on its "national park" status, then today is the 86th birthday of Hot Springs National Park. However, if you go back to the creation of Hot Springs Reservation, well, that birthday doesn't roll around until April 20, 1832, which means this year marks the 175th anniversary of the hot springs.
Hosp175th_logo    Whichever birthday you prefer, this small slice (roughly 5,400 acres) of Arkansas is ready for your visit. Located within the town of Hot Springs that itself is found in the Zig Zag Mountains, this park is fueled by 143-degree water that contains trace amounts of silica, calcium, bicarbonate and other dissolved minerals. And, for trivia fans, they say the water that comes to the surface in the park's hot springs is more than 4,000 years old.
    For centuries the park's waters have been thought to have had healing qualities. Not only did Native Americans partake in an occasional dip, but legend has it that Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto took a soak back in 1541. Today you can soak in one of the tubs at the Buckstaff Bath House, which has been in continuous operation since 1912, and follow it up with a massage.
    But there's more to the park than healing waters. There is a pine-oak-hickory forest that hikers can disappear into, a wide variety of birds (including hawks, vultures, turkeys, falcons, woodpeckers, and even a road runner) for birding, and a campground for overnight stays.
    As far as the 175th anniversary, that commemoration is being played up much more than the 86th birthday. As things stand now, Mary plans to be in town for the celebration.

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