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9 Best Hot Springs Arkansas RV Parks for Enjoying the National Park

9 Best Hot Springs Arkansas RV Parks for Enjoying the National Park

Arkansas may not be a top destination on your bucket list, but if you haven’t considered visiting Hot Springs, you must plan a road trip. From the culture and history of the area to the spectacular scenery, this area of central-western Arkansas has plenty to do. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you’re in luck! We have a list of nine of the best Hot Springs Arkansas RV parks to make your stay near Hot Springs National Park enjoyable, convenient, and comfortable. Let’s dive in!

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas: One Day Exploring History, Hiking Trails & Mountain Towers

Where Is Hot Springs, Arkansas?

The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is about 55 miles southwest of Little Rock. Interstate 30, Highway 70, and Highway 270 provide easy access. It is known for being the home to Hot Springs National Park, a natural and historic wonder. The Ouachita River sits northwest of the city for additional outdoor recreational opportunities.

What Is Hot Springs National Park?

While the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and other national parks protect stunning scenery, geological wonders, and abundant wildlife, Hot Springs National Park is slightly different. The national park encompasses much of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas due to its historical and natural features.

On March 4, 1921, Hot Springs became the eighteenth national park. But long before its admission into the National Park Service, Hot Springs was a sacred place for Native Americans. They believed the waters had healing powers and visited the area for thousands of years before white settlements.

After the Louisiana Purchase, President Jefferson sent the Dunbar-Hunter Expedition to explore the land in 1804, and permanent settlers started arriving by 1807. Hot Springs became a luxury health and spa resort. However, the Hot Springs Reservation became government property to protect this natural resource. Improvements included new Victorian bathhouses after a devastating fire, mountain drives, a park, fountains, and a formal entrance.

Today, the national park protects Bathhouse Row and the hot springs. Guests can visit the various bathhouses and imagine what life might have been like hundreds of years ago. Officials have boarded up most of the hot springs for safety and tourism reasons, but visitors can see and touch open waterfalls and springs throughout the area.

Pro Tip: Check out these 7 Best Caves in Arkansas for An Otherworldly Experience during your adventure.

Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park is a sacred spot, well worth exploring.

What Can You Do At Hot Springs National Park?

Since Hot Springs National Park is an urban park, they offer more urban activities than most other national parks. It’s different than the remote locations of Glacier National Park or Denali. Shops, restaurants, historic hotels, art walks, museums, and other businesses are all a part of this park’s experience. There is no fee to visit Hot Springs National Park, and parking is free.

First and most obviously, you can soak in the healing waters. Do note, however, that this must be done in one of the two historic bathhouses. The Buckstaff and the Quapaw bathhouses are open to the public and available for appointments.

The Fordyce Bathhouse Museum and Visitor Center is the best place to start learning more about the park.

Outdoor activities include visiting the Display Spring and Hot Water Cascade, hiking 26 miles of walking trails, and exploring Bathhouse Row and the downtown. You can also fill water bottles at the various thermal and cold springs fountains around the national park.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Hot Springs, Arkansas?

Summers in Arkansas can be hot and humid, so we suggest visiting in the shoulder seasons. Most Hot Springs, Arkansas RV parks are open year-round, so you don’t have to worry about closures in the off-season.

February to April and August to October are prime seasons to visit this area. The weather is pleasant, and you’ll avoid the hot temperatures of the summer. As you walk along Bathhouse Row or hike a trail, you’ll enjoy the sunshine and less humidity without the heat. The average temperatures are 60-75 degrees in the spring and 75-85 degrees in early fall. Plus, the hot springs will feel all the more luxurious in contrast to some cooler weather.

Pro Tip: Head to these Top 9 US National Parks for Waterfall Lovers for an epic adventure.

Close up of hot spring
Enjoy some R&R time in any of the amazing bath houses in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The 9 Best Hot Springs, Arkansas RV Parks

There are some great Hot Springs, Arkansas RV parks near the national park for travelers looking to bring their RV to Arkansas and enjoy camping. Because the park is in a town, it is extremely accessible for all types of vehicles including RVs. They’re also near other outdoor recreational activities where you can truly embrace “The Natural State” of Arkansas.

1. Gulpha Gorge Campground

The only campground within Hot Springs National Park is Gulpha Gorge. All sites have full hookups, and the nightly fee is around $34. There is cell phone reception but no internet connectivity. Potable water and a dump station are also onsite. This is one of the few national park campgrounds that can accommodate rigs up to 60 feet long. Open year-round, Gulpha Gorge is about 2 miles from the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center.

2. Lake Catherine State Park

If you’d like to experience beautiful scenery a few miles outside the national park, Lake Catherine State Park has 70 campsites, many on the lakeshore. There are full hookup sites (roughly $40/night), partial hookup sites (roughly $25/night), and primitive tent sites (roughly $15/night) available. Hiking, horseback riding, boating, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and fishing are easily available nearby.

3. Lake Ouachita State Park

Another nearby state park is Lake Ouachita. This park is about 25 minutes northeast of Hot Springs National Park and is a top destination for swimming, skiing, scuba diving, boating, kayaking, and fishing.

Lake Ouachita is the largest lake in Arkansas, and the campground has 93 campsites, some right on the water. Like the campground at Lake Catherine State Park, the campground has full hookup sites (around $40/night), walk-in tent sites (around $15/night), and dry camping sites (usually $15/night).

View of Hot Springs National Park
There are plenty of places to camp that are close to Hot Springs National Park.

4. Hot Springs National Park KOA Holiday

If you prefer the amenities of a KOA, the Hot Springs National Park KOA Holiday is only about 3.5 miles from the park’s visitor center. Onsite amenities include an arcade room, fishing pond, pet playground, hiking trails, mini golf, seasonal swimming pool, and more. Laundry, propane, firewood, and fishing are also available for an additional fee. This is an excellent option for travelers with pets and children.

5. Catherine’s Landing

Less than 20 minutes from Hot Springs National Park is Catherine’s Landing, a former dairy farm turned RV park on the shore of Lake Catherine. You’re close enough to enjoy the downtown attractions but far enough away to feel like you’re camping under the stars. With many large, big-rig-friendly RV sites and level, tidy tent sites, they can accommodate any style of camper.

Armadillos, rabbits, and deer are common sights here among the 400 acres of beautiful landscape. Onsite amenities include a saline swimming pool, a disc golf course, a playground, a fitness center, and hiking trails. They also offer kayak and pontoon boat rentals to go out and enjoy the beautiful Lake Catherine.

6. J & J RV Park

Another Hot Springs, Arkansas, RV park less than 10 minutes from Bathhouse Row is J & J RV Park. It’s big-rig friendly and features full hookups, pull-through sites, laundry facilities, and paved roads. All sites are around $41/night, and Good Sam members receive a 10% discount. An additional perk of this campground is that the owners live onsite. So if you encounter a problem, they’re easily accessible. This is a no-frills option for folks wanting to stay close to the national park but not in it.

Viet of Hot Springs, Arkansas
Whether you’re camping in Hot Springs, Arkansas in an RV or tent, there is a campsite for you.

7. Treasure Isle RV Park

Treasure Isle RV Park is on the northwest corner of Lake Hamilton. It offers a more scenic landscape while providing comfortable amenities for guests. You can rent a pontoon boat or kayak and enjoy a day on the water. Full hookup sites are available, and guests can enjoy a swimming pool, fishing pier, laundry facilities, and free satellite tv.

8. Stephens Park Campground

Resting on Lake Hamilton, Stephens Park Campground also has a boat ramp for easy access to Lake Ouachita. This location is fun for travelers wanting to experience more natural camping with full hookups. However, there are only nine sites, so you’ll want to make your reservation early. Hikers, jet skiers, and anglers love staying here at Stephens Park, only about 20 minutes from the visitor center at Hot Springs.

9. Charlton Recreation Area

Finally, if you prefer dispersed or dry camping, you may enjoy staying at the Charlton Recreation Area in the Ouachita National Forest. There are three loops, each offering various amenities. A Loop has no hookups, but potable water is available. B Loop offers 30/50 amp hookups and water at each site. C Loop has 30 amp service, water, and some sewer connections. Bathhouses and flush toilets are onsite. Charlton Recreation Area is about 20 miles from Hot Springs National Park.

Steam covering hot spring
Rest your muscles after hiking through Hot Springs National Park in a steamy bath house.

How Long Do I Need to Visit Hot Springs, Arkansas?

Depending on what you want to do, you can visit Hot Springs, Arkansas in a couple of days or spend an entire week. Little Rock is about an hour’s drive and offers more attractions.

The Ouachita Mountains offer hiking and mountain biking opportunities. Nearby Lake Catherine State Park and Lake Ouachita State Park provide places for boating, fishing, and more outdoor fun. So if you can spend a few days in Hot Springs, you’ll enjoy this area of Arkansas more fully.

Pro Tip: Make a splash at one of these 5 Amazing National Seashores You Need to Visit.

Other Top Things to Do in Hot Springs, Arkansas

If you don’t love the outdoors and hiking, biking, fishing, and exploring aren’t your thing, there’s still much to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Let’s look at some of the other top spots to visit on your trip!

Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens is open daily. Admission tickets are required for everyone over the age of 4. It is dog-friendly, but you’ll have to pay a small fee. This botanical garden of the University of Arkansas protects the natural flora and fauna of the state. You’ll find cascading waterfalls, bridges, gorges, meadows, and overlooks throughout the property. There’s also a children’s adventure garden and workshops and classes throughout the year.

Garvan Woodland Gardens | Check It Out! Hot Springs, Arkansas

Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort

Another popular attraction near Hot Springs is the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. You can stay onsite and enjoy luxurious accommodations, book a spa package, or relax by the pool. The casino is open 24/7 and features live craps, live blackjack, slot games, and a sportsbook area. Oaklawn is also famous for its horse racing. From December-May, thousands of people gather for races. The next time you’re in Hot Springs, wager a bet and spend a day at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

A VIRTUAL JOURNEY to Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort

Mid-America Science Museum

For families, one of the best attractions outside of Hot Springs National Park is the Mid-America Science Museum. It’s generally open Tuesday-Sunday. Children under age 2 are free. The museum showcases hands-on science exhibits, art exhibits, a dome theater, and more. Permanent exhibits include the Marvelous Motion Gallery, the Light Bridge, the Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk, and the Workshops Gallery.

MID-AMERICA SCIENCE MUSEUM! Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs Mountain Tower

If you don’t fear heights, you should visit the Hot Springs Mountain Tower during your stay. It will transport you 216 feet to the observation decks, where you’ll savor panoramic views of the Ouachita Mountains, Hot Springs Mountain, and the Diamond Lakes area. Hours vary during the year, so check out the website when you visit. There are general admission fees, but children age 4 and under are usually free. It’s a quick visit but one worth making!

Hot Springs Mountain Tower at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas

Stay Comfortably in One Of These Hot Springs, Arkansas RV Parks This Camping Season

The Hot Springs, Arkansas, RV parks offer excellent base camps to enjoy the area. Whether you want to explore outdoor recreation, learn more about the history of Bathhouse Row, or relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, there’s something for everyone here!

Which RV park best suits your needs? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
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