Established from Hot Springs Reservation, Hot Springs National Park is a United States National Park in central Arkansas adjacent to the city of Hot Springs. Hot Springs Reservation was initially created by an act of the United States Congress on April 20, 1832, and the area was made a national park on March 4, 1921. It is the smallest national park by area in the United States. Since Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federal reserve, it was the first to receive its own US quarter in April 2010 as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters.
The hot springs flow from the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain, part of the Ouachita Mountain range. In the park, the hot springs have not been preserved in their unaltered state as natural surface phenomena. They have instead been managed to conserve the production of uncontaminated hot water for public use. The mountains within the park are also managed within this conservation philosophy in order to preserve the hydrological system that feeds the springs.
People have used the hot spring water in therapeutic baths for more than two hundred years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. While it was a reservation, the area developed into a well-known resort nicknamed The American Spa that attracted not only the wealthy but indigent health seekers from around the world as well.
The park includes portions of downtown Hot Springs, making it one of the most easily visited national parks. There are numerous hiking trails and camping areas. Bathing in spring water is available in approved facilities at extra cost. The entire Bathhouse Row area is a National Historic Landmark District that contains the grandest collection of bathhouses of its kind in North America, including many outstanding examples of Gilded Age architecture. The row's Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the park's visitor center; the Buckstaff and Quapaw are currently the only facilities still operating as bathhouses. Other buildings of the row are currently in various states of interior restoration or are used in other capacities.
The park has become increasingly popular in recent years, and recorded over 1.5 million visitors in 2003, as well as nearly 2.5 million non-recreational visitors.