At several locations on Center Street in the historical bath house district of Hot Springs, you'll see clusters of people gathered around public fountains, filling plastic jugs with the local water. This is some of the most famous water in the world. In basements of these buildings and under these streets and in nooks and grottoes along the walls of this valley, scalding hot mineral water bubbles out of the rock.

Because the water is naturally sterile as it exits the ground, NASA stored moon rocks in water from this spring (among others) while waiting to examine the mineral specimens for signs of life. I know you think I'm making that up, but it's from the National Park's brochure.

The water in the fountains has had a chance to cool enough so that it can be comfortably handled. Placards at each fountain list the mineral content of the springs. For drinking purposes, this water tastes best at room temperature or slightly warmer, but can taste a little tinny when chilled, thus the "B" rating. Note that the water from these public fountains, unless there is a sign at the spigot noting otherwise, is a mixture of water from a dozen or so thermal springs that well up along Bath House Row.

This resort area reached the height of its popularity in the 1930's, when it was declared an open city by the nations most notorious and powerful gangsters. Today, tourism concentrates around the clear, deepwater lakes in the area, affording opportunities for fishing, skiing, boating, scuba diving, camping, hiking, mountain biking, climbing and so on.

In town you have the state's best restaurants, Oaklawn thoroughbred park, a thoughtfully restored historic district, lake tours on genuine WWII amphibious landing crarft, and more. I have never visited the bath houses, but my sister did on a recent visit from Oklahoma; and for the next day or so she was uncharacteristically easy to get along with. Now that's a recommendation!


In the Neighborhood: Mountain Valley Spring | Duck Rides | Alligator Farm | Hot Springs Museum Index

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