Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Hot Springs Texarkana, TX, Sunday, 04 November 2012 9:38pm

I spent much more time in Hot Springs, AR than I had planned. One of the contenders for "First National Park" is there. The site was the first natural area to be set aside for protection by Congress (in 1832)—long before Yellowstone was made a National Park (in 1872) or the National Park Service was created (in 1916). It wasn't formally made a National Park until 1921.

The park includes a row of historic bathhouses that used the water from the hot springs. I arrived at the visitor's center just as a tour of the Fordyce bathhouse was about to begin, so I tagged along. The Fordyce is the grandest of the historic bathhouses and is normally the visitor's center for the park, but it's currently closed for renovation, so the tour was my only chance to see inside it.

The hot springs were extremely popular in the 1800s because they were believed to have unusual medicinal properties due to their (very slight) radioactivity. The water was used for soaks, for steam chambers, for multidirectional showers, and many other treatments.

There are public fountains where you can fill up your containers with the water. I filled my camelbak before heading up to the observation tower at the top of the highest hill in the National Park. You can see a lot of trees from up there. This area is full of the colors of fall.

The rest of the day was spent riding to Texarkana. It was a cool, clear day. I ended up stopping a couple of times to put more layers on, but was pleased that it wasn't raining on me.

I'm barely back in Texas now. Texarkana straddles the state line, and I'm currently on the west side.