No trip to Hot Springs would be complete without visiting the bathhouses and spas. For centuries, visitors have flocked to these 47 springs in hopes that the pure, thermal waters bubbling up from the earth would heal their ailments.

You literally immerse yourself in history by taking a dip in the springs. The spring water fell as rainfall 4,000 years ago, studies show. From there, it slowly percolated through the earth’s surface, collecting minerals along the way, before reaching superheated areas in the earth’s crust and rushing to the surface. About a million gallons of 147-degree water flow from the springs daily.

Considered sacred by so many, the Ouachita Mountains’ “Valley of Vapors” became America’s first federally protected area in the national park system in 1832. Within Hot Springs National Park lies Bathhouse Row, a national historic landmark. Over the years, the bathhouses hosted everyone from mobsters and movie stars to U.S. presidents and ordinary tourists.

At the Fordyce Bathhouse, which houses the National Park’s visitor center, guests can learn about the history of the springs and Bathhouse Row. The Buckstaff Bathhouse and Quapaw Baths & Spa are the only operational bathhouses within the park that are fed by the springs, but a host of salons and spas across town serve as reminders of the Spa City’s rich heritage. Take the time to visit one of these spas, springs or bathhouses and become part of one of the defining pieces of history in Hot Springs.

For a listing of the area's spas, click here.