Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, AR is one of the most unusual National Parks in the nation.
First off, it is the smallest National Park, by far. And secondly – rather than the usual focus on preserving natural features – most of the hot springs here have been thoroughly developed, and the primary attraction is actually the row of preserved historic bath houses lining the main street through downtown.
There is however one campground to be found in the park, and Gulpha Gorge is a beauty indeed!
The Gulpha Gorge campground is located on the other side of Hot Springs Mountain from the bustle of bath house row and the rest of the city, but it is only a short drive or a few miles of hiking to get to the main attractions.
The Gulpha Gorge campground is currently being renovated and “upgraded”, and most of the 44 sites are being converted to offer full hookups. The price for these sites is going up from $10 to $24, a very steep increase. The hookups will also mean that the beautiful creek noises will likely soon be complimented by the hum of RV air conditioners. Fortunately, the remaining non-hookup sites are the best of the bunch – right along the creek and the rapids.
All of the campsites at Gulpha Gorge are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Another of the renovations is that instead of using a typical ‘iron ranger’ honor system to pay for your spot, they have a computerized self check-in kiosk that accepts cash and credit cards. We really like this trend, and have dubbed this system the ‘Digital Ranger.’. It gets the technomad seal of approval!
Overall, Gulpha Gorge is a beautiful oasis – and I would love to return again for a longer visit. I only hope that the campground is not diminished too much by the new focus on larger RV’s.
View: Creek and rapids!
Sites: 44 sites. Only 12 remain without hookups.
Facilities: Toilets, NO showers. Dump station.
Hookups: Most sites have water, electric, and sewer.
Cell & Data Coverage:
AT&T – Strong EDGE – no 3G.
Sprint – Two bars EVDO rev A. (D: 722Kb/s, U: 286Kb/s, 118ms)
Cost: $10/night ($24/night with hookups) – Paid by a self check-in computerized kiosk (aka ‘Digital Ranger’) with credit card and cash only, no checks.