Hot Springs National Park

Lamar Bathhouse sign, ca. 1965, in the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Centre Museum

Hot Springs National Park was created to preserve the history of Hot Springs as the medicinal benefits of the spas fell into disrepute and the number of customers declined.

The bath houses that line the main street funnel water that fell about 4,400 years ago when the Egyptians were building Pyramids. It emerges from springs, crystal clear, clean, odourless and tasteless and at around 62ºC. It is heated by radioactive decay below the earth and rises as a natural geothermal hot spring. It is decently above the average radioactivity of water [1] [2] however is certified safe to drink by the National Parks Service, though no longer claimed to possess healing properties.

We were very impressed to be drinking water who's journey could be traced back such a long time ago. There are fountains around the town where you can collect the water in drink bottles so we filled up and did a couple hikes with the spa water to give us that extra boost of invigoration. I only did the research about the radioactivity while writing this post...

The Fordyce Bathhouse has been preserved as part of the National Park and can be explored. The orientation video comes highly recommended. It must have been a very luxurious place to go however I think I'd have been very selective about what was on offer. There were very inviting looking showers that spray water from almost all directions located in the most elaborate shower room I've seen, provided you were a man. Hot baths, filled from the springs in a matter of minutes, looked very relaxing too. On my 'maybe never' list was the electro shock massage and electric bath. Just goes to show 'thats progress' is a phrase that always remains current.