Lake Ouachita State Park#3 in Best Things To Do in Hot Springs, AR
While Hot Springs National Park naturally draws the spotlight for visitors to Hot Springs, it's not the area's only outdoor attraction. Travelers would be remiss if they skipped a visit to the wonderful Lake Ouachita State Park. Outdoorsy travelers can even spend the night, as the park houses 93 campsites, eight full cabins and four camper cabins. Those who trek to Lake Ouachita State Park for a shorter period must choose between enjoying the park's water and land attractions. The water is accessible through the park's two beaches, while a marina is also available for travelers who chose to rent a boat. Additionally, visitors can bathe in the Three Sisters Springs, whose alleged healing benefits rival the storied waters of Hot Springs National Park. Lake Ouachita State Park offers two trails for visitors who prefer to stay on land, ranging from a half-mile to 4 miles.
Previous park visitors appreciated its tranquil waters and clean campsites. They also particularly enjoyed the variety of activities orchestrated by the park rangers, which range from nature "Jeopardy!" to starlight lake tours to snakeskin bookmark making. They also praised the availability of watercraft rentals at the on-site marina.
The Lake Ouachita State Park's visitor center and marina are open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on select days during warmer months. There is no entrance fee to access day-use areas of the park, though tours and events occasionally include a charge. Travelers should also expect fees for campsites, cabins, watercraft and other rentals. Additional information regarding Lake Ouachita State Park is available on its website, as well as current information regarding beach closures and flooding. Keep in mind that you'll need a car to access the park, which sits a little more than 15 miles northwest of downtown Hot Springs.
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#1 Hot Springs National Park
Given that Hot Springs National Park shares a name with the nearby town, it should come as no surprise that the 5,500-acre park serves as the main attraction in Hot Springs. The park's thermal waters are its primary draw, and visitors can still soak in the historical establishments lining Bathhouse Row, including the Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and the Buckstaff Bathhouse. Additionally, numerous trails weave throughout the park. A majority of the trails are concentrated between the Hot Springs and North Mountain trails as well as the West Mountain Trails. Both these areas offer short, interconnected trails, while the approximately 10-mile Sunset Trail provides a more challenging trek for experienced hikers.
Past visitors suggested taking on the 2.6-mile Sugarloaf Mountain segment of the Sunset Trail, which includes a short spur trail to the Balanced Rock that rewards hikers with one of the most stunning views in Arkansas. They also appreciate the park's attractions in the middle of town, like Bathhouse Row and the Grand Promenade.
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