Hot Springs National Park!

Got another National Park Service spot checked off the list!
We left Fort Smith, Arkansas on Friday morning heading to Mississippi...
making a stop by Hot Springs National Park first!

We drove through the beautiful Ouachita National Forest and when we drove through Mt. Ida, we started noticing lots of Crystals for sell on the side of the road. We discovered that the Mountains there are famous for their crystals! 

Ever since we panned for gold last summer in Deadwood, SD, Merritt has been very interested in rocks/geology, so even though both boys were taking a much needed nap, we just had to stop! Merritt could have stayed all day! We let him pick out a crystal for his rock collection (he comes home from school all the time with "the coolest rock ever" hehe!), it was a pretty long process but he finally chose a gorgeous orange tinted one, of course McCoy thought he needed one too and grabbed one that looks like ice! (they are all wrapped up and packed away but will get a pic when we get back to Iowa!) 

We stopped to see if this Ranger Station had a stamp for our passport, but were unsuccessful.
At least we got a cute picture and they gave the boys Smokey The Bear goody bags, filled with coloring books, colors, pencils, a ruler, stickers, and other fun stuff!!

Finally made it to Hot Springs National Park!!
A lovely Park Ranger came by and took our picture!

A little history...
Hot Springs National Park has a long and colorful history, beginning long before its designation as Hot Springs Reservation in 1832. American Indians came here for thousands of years to quarry novaculite for their tools and weapons. The Dunbar-Hunter Expedition came here in 1804, sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the southern reaches of the Louisiana Purchase. Soon a bustling town grew up around the hot springs to provide services for health seekers. The resultant bathing industry led to Hot Springs becoming known as the "American Spa."

We took a stroll down bath house row...but didn't indulge in a bath, 
although after two long days in the truck, it would have been nice! hehe!

First stop was getting their Junior Ranger Badges! 
We had printed the books a few months ago and worked on them in the evenings, 
since we knew we wouldn't have much time to spend there.

Official Hot Springs National Park Junior Rangers!

Next, we toured the former Fordyce Bath House! It was so extravagant, even for today's standards, and it was actually constructed in 1915! They said that presidents, famous people, and Major Leauge Baseball teams came here for healing, so I'm guessing this bath house was not for the everyday person!

The actual hot spring under the bath house!

More hot springs!

It was designated a Reservation before "National Parks" were even a thing!
Later, they renamed it Hot Springs National Park, so it was actually America's First National Park!
You learn a lot by doing the Ranger Books with them, hehe!! :)

This was one of the untapped natural hot springs!
We did a little bit of the hiking trails, but not much since we had to get back on the road!

They didn't have an official sticker for our books, but we loved all their cool stamps!

Would really like to got back and spend more time, the city of Hot Springs looked very fun too! 


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