Last year, we headed west to New Mexico and Colorado for our first family road trip. So this year, we decided to head northeast to Arkansas and see what The Natural State had to offer. Even though we didn’t have to drive through desolate parts of Texas to get there, it still took us quite a bit of time to get out of the state.
The best laid plans can be foiled by Mother Nature. She dropped 8 inches of rainfall the night before our trip and continued to pour down as we left early in the morning. It was coming down so hard that part of I-35 was closed due to flooding. We sat in a parking lot trying to get out of Austin metro to wait for blinding rain to ease up before we even had the chance to sit in the massive backup from the flood. It took us over 5 hours to get up to Dallas, where the rain seemed to clear.
Of course, the delay in getting out of Dallas meant we had to change our initial plans of digging for diamonds in Southwest Arkansas. Instead, we headed straight to Hot Springs after a lunch stop at Monkey King Noodle Company in Dallas’s Deep Ellum.
The trees suddenly got taller as we crossed from Texas to Arkansas. The flat plains of north Texas also started to show more ups and downs and curves.
With the delay from the storms, it was already getting dark by the time we arrived in Hot Springs. I forget how early places close down in smaller towns, and it took a bit of walking along the main strip of Bathhouse Row to find a restaurant that was open and kid-friendly.
Day 2: Hot Springs, AR
With our National Parks Passports in hand, we went to explore Hot Springs Mountain and Bathhouse Row. We opted to drive up the winding mountain road to get to the views. The air was crisp, and (again) the trees were so tall. There’s a picnic area, little gift shop and a tower up top. We also saw a few hikers who made the whole trek up.
After driving back down, the Big Kid and I tackled a small portion of the hiking trails before he got bored. We met the husband and Bear Shark at the main attractions – the hot springs. There were a few right at the base of the mountain. It was incredible to see them steaming and bubbling. The Promenade Walk also led us to some smaller hidden ones.
Some of the bathhouses are still operational, while others were converted into a visitor center, gift shop and a cultural center. We did the self-guided tour at the visitor center, which has multiple floors for exploring how people enjoyed the baths and all the different types of therapies used.
From here, we took the scenic byway to the tallest point in Arkansas, Mount Magazine. We LOVED our visit there. More in the next post!