Hot Springs (AR)
Park Number: 20/59
First Visited: May 8, 2011
This is the oddest national park in the entire system. I say this for multiple reasons: it’s the smallest national park in America, it is the only one found in an urban setting, and, more than anything, it is really just a bathhouse of antiquity.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think bathhouses are just as cool as the next guy, but why this place has “national park” status befuddles me. Of the forty-three hot springs in the park, a lot of them are capped off and inaccessible to the public. Also, the most famous of the geysers isn’t even fully natural; it was artificially diverted to be more aesthetically pleasing.
Surprisingly though, Hot Springs was actually the first federally protected “park” in the country in 1832. Hot Springs, however, didn’t become a true national park until 1921. But, nonetheless, this is why Hot Springs was selected to be the first national park quarter released in the series.
I don’t have grievances with this park, it just stands out as the Which-One-of-These-Doesn’t-Belong. The place, I think, would be better suited as a national historic site.