How to celebrate the centenary of this hot-spring filled US national parkAndrea Smith

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is turning 100 this month and has planned a series of outdoor celebrations to mark the centenary. Created as Hot Springs Reservation when President Andrew Jackson signed the first law in history to preserve land for recreational purposes, the area formally became a national park in 1921.

The park in Hot Springs got its name as it protects 47 naturally flowing thermal springs on the southwestern slope of Hot Springs Mountain. Visitors can soak in the thermal waters, drink spring water from the fountains and hike densely wooded slopes – all just steps away from downtown Hot Springs. They can also stroll through Bathhouse Row, which includes a collection of eight architecturally significant bathhouse buildings that were built between 1912-1923 along Central Avenue.

Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Bathhouse Row includes a collection of eight architecturally significant bathhouse buildings © Calvin Smith/National Park Service

Hot Springs National Park will host both year-long events and monthly events throughout 2021. These include the Iron Ranger challenge, where participants log 100 miles of biking, walking, paddling or hiking on any public lands in Arkansas throughout 2021. There are also themed monthly photo contests, and details are released each month on the park’s webpage and social media pages.

Hot Springs Reservation Day takes place on 20 April, and it will offer guided hikes and specialty tours of the park. BioBlitz takes place on 1 May, where visitors can join the park’s science team for a day of exploration and learning, and document the flora and fauna. A fun event will take place on 12 June in the form of the 1921 Block Party, where guests are encouraged to dress in 1920s’ costumes and join in on themed workshops.

A view of Hot Springs National Park in Arkasas
Hot Springs National Park will host celebratory events throughout 2021 © Calvin Smith/National Park Service

Furry friends won’t be left out, because Bark Ranger Day will take place on 3 July. Throughout the day there will be demos, workshops for dog owners, Bark Ranger swearing-in ceremonies and a parade down the Grand Promenade. On 7 August, Junior Ranger Day will take place, which is a family-focused day full of hands-on activities, specialized workshops and guided hikes. Junior Rangers of all ages will have the opportunity to earn a commemorative centennial junior ranger badge throughout 2021.

Outdoor adventures in Arkansas, USA

The Thermal Springs Festival will take place on 18 September, and will be an educational celebration of the very foundation of the park: the thermal springs. It is designed as a workshop with interactive demonstrations, booths from local agencies, behind-the-scenes water tours and other water-based activities.

Archeology fans may enjoy the event, History’s Mysteries: Dig in to Archeology, which is scheduled for 16 October. They can join the park’s archeology and history team in a day-long event to learn more about the role archeologists serve in the park. There will be archeological displays, hands-on workshops and games to solve some of the park’s mysteries. Then there’s Park Rx Weekend, a public health fair that takes place on 13 November. Visitors will be inspired to get moving and bring to life one of the foundations of the parks’ inception: health and wellness.

Further information on the centennial events can be found on the National Park Service website here.

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