Hot Springs and Lake Ouachita Trip

Every spring we travel to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to attend the Arkansas Derby.   We really aren’t horse racing aficionados, but we do enjoy this one day of racing.   I love to see some of the horses that will continue the track to the Kentucky Derby and beyond.

About fifteen years ago, The Hubs’ parents started taking us there and we have continued the tradition ever since.   Since they have moved to Houston, they meet us there and it is a great time to relax and visit.

The Hubs and I usually arrive in town first so we have time to kill to explore the area.  Hot Springs is a quaint place with historic bars with a past (like The Ohio Club) and new joints going in to revitalize the historic bath houses.   Such is the case with Superior Bath House, a relatively new brewery/eatery.  (We visited here last year as well.)   We stopped in for lunch (and a beverage).

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This, my friends, is their Citrus Quinoa Salad featuring Arkansas spring mix tossed with citrus quinoa and topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado.   The menu stated it was featured in Southern Living, but I couldn’t find the recipe in a search.   The salad itself was just “OK” but that citrusy quinoa was delicious.  I could have eaten a boatload of it!  (Trivia alert:  Superior Bath House is the only brewery located in a national park.)

After lunch, we walked the Grand Promenade

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…stuck our hands in one of the many hot, mineral fountains found around town…

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Notice this one is actually a water fountain as well. The hot springs here are alleged to cure a number of ailments.

…and, I always wonder about this building.

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This massive structure is the Arkansas Career Training Institute (a rehabilitation center).

I bet it’s haunted.  What do you think?

In the past, our trips always centered around staying at The Arlington, a historic hotel and bath house in downtown Hot Springs.   I loved the history of the place as well as the mineral baths, steams, and massages that I could get there.   (You can read about our previous adventures in Hot Springs here.) But, for the last two years, we have rented a cabin at Lake Ouachita State Park.  

2015-04-12 18.51.59There are only eight cabins at this small state park and they are fairly new, clean, and nicely furnished.

2015-04-12 18.53.22Oh, and did I mention they set right on the water.  This is the view from the back deck of our cabin.

We took a couple of extra days off and made this a long weekend.   We had fun at the races and I even had some bets come in on a few races, but I would have loved to have spent all our time here.

The park’s nickname is “Three Sisters” due to the former resort that was located here, named after the three springs that bubble up on the property.   Apparently, the Three Sisters Resort was quite popular in the late 1800s and early Twentieth Century.   2015-04-10 18.33.25

The springs still flow (a short hike from our cabin) and a few of the original buildings are still there.  We were sadden to see that one of the really quaint buildings, almost built into the hillside, had been razed, but the springs survive.

The springs are labeled “non-drinkable” but back in the heyday of this place, each spring reportedly cured a number of different maladies.   They are still labeled (but with the warning not to drink the waters.)

Spring #1 was supposed to cure the following:  “Brights Disease, diabetes, dropsy, pus in kidney, bladder and urethra, cystitis, enlarged prostate gland, paralysis, stones in kidney and other urinary troubles, changes of life and female irregularities, insommia, anemia, high or low blood pressure, gout, hyperacidity, rheumatism, arthritis.”

Spring #2 aided in these ailments:  “Chronic constipation, chronic indigestion, catarrh of stomach, excessive acid, gastritis, ulcerated stomach, poor assimilation and elimination, low blood pressure, gall stones, mucus colitis.”

Spring #3 waters is highly astringent and helped “quite constipating used only for flux, diarrhea, dysentery, cholera-infantum and kindred troubles, bath for diabetic sores and eczema, granulated and sore eyes, catarrh of the head, nose and sinuses.”

I am always tempted to take a sip (even with the warnings) and I always have to consider the suffering of those who probably used the springs as a last resort for relief.

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I have no pictures to prove this, but The Hubs and I even went canoeing on the lake.   Canoe rentals were $15 for a day.   We have wanted to try this for a long time and are considering purchasing one for our own.  This was a great test of our marriage as well as seeing if we really want to buy one.   The answer:  We are still wed and we have “canoe” on our Craig List searches now. (And, I only got one foot wet the entire time on the water.)

There are many hiking trails in the park as well, and I will leave you with some nature photos that I snapped as we leisurely hiked the park.

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Native dogwoods.

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Clover and moss….lots of moss. My MiL is obsessed with moss….she wants a zen garden.


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The Hubs is obsessed with ferns and we really had to curb our desire to dig some of the native ones up and carry home. (We didn’t do it!)

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More wild clover.

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This tree had the craziest root system.

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The beach area adjacent to the Three Sisters spring.

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Another view from our deck.

We are already planning next year’s trip to the same cabin.   Instead of hanging out in Hot Springs though, The Hubs and I plan to race to the park, rent a canoe, set on the deck and wait on the in-laws to arrive.










10 comments to Hot Springs and Lake Ouachita Trip

  • chrisscheuer

    What a fun and lovely time you had! Love all the pics.

  • What a cool trip! I love the photos.
    I received the cookbook and love it. Thank you!,

  • Thanks for taking me back there – my parents when on their honeymoon and once, when I was 16, I got to go to the races as well. They went every year until dad couldn’t make the trip anymore – probably 30 years of going around their anniversary in mid-March each year. I like your tradition of going too. It’s a good one. 🙂

    • I bet they went to the apple blossom race. We used to go twice a year, once during spring break and then again for the derby. Now we just go for the derby. It was cool we got to see American Pharoah this year.

  • mjskit

    Fabulous pictures of your vacation! I haven’t been to Hot Springs since I as a young kids and I don’t remember it much so thanks for sharing the highlights. Great pictures and yes, I bet that building is haunted. Old buildings like that usually are aren’t they. 🙂

  • teaandscones

    One of our fave places to visit. Next time you go, visit Garvin Gardens. Beautiful and a great walk. Your pics are great.