Hot Springs is an adorable little touristy town that is surrounded by the nation's smallest national park. We arrived at Catherine's Landing RV Resort on Thursday 3/25. Catherine's is 15 minutes from the town and the national park. It's a very nice resort for families with the usual pool and playgrounds but also many other activities that include boating on the river.
On Friday we ran the trails around the resort (approx. 5 miles, important later in the story) and in the afternoon drove to Central Ave in downtown Hot Springs where all of the bathhouses from the early 1900's are well preserved. For hundreds of years before the development of the area people traveled to the Hot Springs because it was believed that the waters had healing qualities. In the 1800's and early 1900's the entrepreneurial spirit took over and the town developed around the bathhouses. The water still flows down the mountain and it can be felt or sampled in specified places. It truly is too hot to hold in your hand and the hot, steaming streams are quite a sight.
From the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center on Central Ave you can start hiking up the mountain to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. I told Ken I thought the tower was close to downtown. Hmmm, I think my brother PAUL told me that. Anyway, we started up the trail and after a half hour climb we reached the tower. Ken mentioned the 5 mile run that morning, but, being the competitive individuals that we are, we did not take the elevator to the top. We hiked up the 21 flights of stairs. The view was great and there were also a lot of interesting stories and photos. Then we walked down the stairs and down the trail. A little of that therapeutic water, please!
On Saturday we returned to the national park and hiked 5 miles on the north side of the park starting on the Gulpha Gorge Creek. The hike was very enjoyable and also good weather. We returned to the RV Resort and at 5 PM heard that there was a tornado watch in effect. The skies darkened and it rained moderately hard for 15 minutes. Soon, the rain abated and we decided that a restaurant would make a good storm shelter. (Especially the chardonnay part). Because of the storm, we were able to get into an amazing restaurant in downtown Hot Springs called "The Vault". I believe they are in a preserved bank building built in1903. The decor was very unique and cozy and the food was delicious. We were greeted by the manager and the chef came out to make sure we were happy. One funny addition - there was this calming statue in the bathroom stall (in the photos below). I'm glad he had his eyes closed. Also unique, the menus were lighted. This was truly one of my favorite restaurants ever.
Sunday was a chill out day. After a run, Ken had important work to do and I went on a bike ride and did some laundry. Time to ready the coach for travel. The next 5 days we will drive across Oklahoma and stay at 2 small RV Parks.
Catherine's Landing RV Resort
Hot Springs National Park
The Vault Restaurant, Downtown Hot Springs