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17 Top Hot Springs National Park Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & What NOT To Bring

hot springs national park packing list
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Hot Springs National Park is one of the many beautiful national parks in the United States. Located in Arkansas, this park is open year-round and has some amazing sights and history! Along with hiking, there is camping, sightseeing, and soaking in the healing thermal tubs located inside the park. It is a wonderful trip for the whole family.

In this article we will go over everything you should remember to bring on your trip to Hot Springs National Park, everything you can leave at home, what not to wear and more!

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What To Pack for Hot Springs National Park - 17 Essentials

  • 1. Cooling Towel

    This cooling towel is a lifesaver for hot trail days. It’s easy to carry in your backpack or day bag and all you have to do is simply dip it in cool water for 30-60 minutes of cooling relief.

    Cooling Towel

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  • 2. Walking Stick

    There are many trails inside the park, all with different lengths and ratings. Although, it is always nice to have a little extra hand, especially for the longer hikes. This walking stick is easy to carry, it’s lightweight and has great grip.

    Walking Stick

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  • 3. Neck Wallet

    If you are someone who loses cards constantly, or just likes to have important things somewhere safe, this is the perfect thing for you. Not only will you know that your important cards are safe and close by, they are easy to take out so you aren’t digging through bags to find them.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 4. Backpack

    Having a good quality hiking pack or day bag is a must for walking around Hot Springs National Park. If you are going on a long hike or a short walk, have everything you need in one, hands-free space.


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  • 5. Packing Cubes

    I’ve got to say, packing cubes might be my new favorite item. For someone (like myself) who stresses about packing extra clothes, this makes it so much easier! For long trips, or even just day trips, packing all your clothing away in these small cubes is so simple.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 6. Life Straw Water Bottle

    Although the park has lots of free and delicious water, you can never be too careful! This life straw water bottle makes filling up your water so much easier and worry-free. It cleans and filters 99.9% of bad bacteria, giving you the safest water wherever you are.

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

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  • 7. Quick Dry Travel Towel

    From visiting the hot springs, to taking a dip in the creek, you’ll probably need a towel at some point in this trip! This travel towel is the perfect towel to bring along any trip. It’s compact, lightweight and dries 10x faster than any other towel.

    Quick Dry Travel Towel

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  • 8. Portable Charger

    It sucks when your phone dies while you are out on a beautiful hike, or just visiting a historical museum (like Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park). Never leave home without this portable phone charger, it’s super lightweight and small, fitting into even something small like your handbag or fanny pack. It will also give your phone two full charges before needing a reboot itself.

    Portable Charger

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  • 9. Windproof Umbrella

    This windproof umbrella is so good to have for so many reasons. Not only does it protect from the wind and rain, but it can also provide shade from the sun. At only 12 inches long and one pound, it is the perfect travel umbrella.

    Windproof Umbrella

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  • 10. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    There is nothing better than having all your toiletries all in one organized place. For camping, or staying in hotels, this hanging toiletry bag is extremely handy. It’s everything you’ll need for long or short trips and it hangs perfectly on the wall without taking up too much space.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 11. Travel Insurance

    If the national park is more than 100 miles away from home then consider getting travel insurance in case something doesn’t go as planned We like to compare policies from top companies to find the best option for our family and travel plans

    Travel Insurance

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  • 12. Waterproof Phone Case

    There are a lot of water activities around Hot Springs National Park and there is nothing worse than ruining your phone while you are on vacation. Protect your phone before you go with this waterproof phone case. It fits any phone, and you can even use the touch screen without taking your phone out of the protective case.

    Waterproof Phone Case

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  • 13. First Aid Kit

    I always remind everyone going on trips to bring their first aid kit. Whether you are hiking, taking a day trip or a camping trip, it is so important to have at least a small travel size first aid kit with essentials for fixing up wounds or any other health concerns.

    First Aid Kit

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  • 14. Head Lamp

    Headlamps are essential for hiking trips and camping trips! How else would you see in the dark? It is always a good idea to bring one along n a day trip as well, just in case your trip takes a little longer than expected.

    Head Lamp

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  • 15. Bear Spray

    Although you may not come across bears on more popular trails, Hot Springs National Park is known for the occasional bear sighting and you do not want to be without protection!

    Bear Spray

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  • 16. Trail Snacks

    Snacks are always an important thing to bring along any day trip and especially for long hikes! Keep that energy up and throw at least a few snacks into your bag or hiking pack.

    Trail Snacks

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  • 17. Bugspray

    Being in the humid, hot summers or even springs in Arkansas means bugs and lots of them. When you’re walking around the park, it is an excellent idea to cover yourself in bug spray to keep those pesky bugs away.


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What to Wear to Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park is known for hiking and the beautiful thermal tubs. Most of the activities take place outdoors, and there is lots of swimming, sightseeing and walking around. Keep an eye on the weather for this area before you visit and understand what the weather is like for the time of year you are going. An important thing to know about Hot Springs Arkansas is that it will rain all year long!

The most important things to bring to Hot Springs National Park are a good, quality pair of hiking shoes. Even if you don’t plan on taking a long hike, the park is expansive and whatever you are doing, there will be lots of walking involved. Pack light layers in the summer, and heavier jackets if you are visiting in the winter. Wear your most comfortable outdoor activity clothes.

What Women Should Wear to Hot Springs National Park – (Click to expand)

As a woman dressing for Hot Springs National Park, it’s a good idea to dress in comfortable sporty attire. Before you go, try and plan on what you are doing at the park. Of course, if you are going on longer hikes, make sure to wear comfortable clothes that are good quality and that have your back for rugged hikes. Moisture-wicking pants are a go-to for long hikes.

No matter what you’re doing, there will be a lot of walking around, so make sure you have quality hiking shoes with you. Arkansas is known for getting summer storms, so pack your rain jacket just in case!

What Men Should Wear to Hot Springs National Park – (Click to expand)

What men should wear to the park doesn’t differ too much from what a woman should wear. It all revolves around comfortability and quality hiking attire. Men, make sure to have your favorite hiking shoes with you.

In case you decide to go for a swim in the beautiful Gulpha creek, pack your swim trunks! Like we recommended to the women, it’s never a bad idea to have your rain gear with you as summer storms are known to pop up around the area.

Packing for the Seasons in Hot Springs National Park

Fall – September, October, November

Fall is a beautiful time in this area, as the foliage starts to pop and the trees turn vibrant yellow, oranges and reds. Although it’s starting to get a little chilly (you may not want to go for a swim), it’s not too cold to spend some time outdoors to take in the beautiful scenery.

On average, the fall months in Arkansas range from 80’s-low 60’s, September being warmer than November. It can be tricky to pack for a fall trip to Hot Springs National Park because the weather can change so much, so in this case it’s good to pack light clothes with lots of layers. I recommend bringing shorts, but also leggings or pants and a jacket just in case. If you are planning on camping during these months, the nights do tend to get chilly especially in October and November. Pack a warm sweatshirt, socks, and hats.

Winter – December, January, February

The winters in Hot Springs Arkansas aren’t the coldest, but they are chilly! Arkansas doesn’t get a lot of snow, hardly at all. However, if you are lucky enough to see the park with fresh snowfall, it is gorgeous. This is a lovely time of year to visit especially if you are trying to beat the crowds. Plus, it’s really nice to take a dip in the warm hot springs while it’s cold outside.

The winter months stay around low 50’s, with nights getting to low 30’s. Like with all the seasons, there is a chance of rain, and if it’s cold enough, snow can fall. Visiting the park around this time of year means lots of layers. Bring a warm insulated jacket, warm boots, and insulated pants. Hats and gloves are always a good thing to have as well.

Spring – March, April, May

Spring in Hot Springs National Park is when things start to bloom, the weather is warming and the crowds start to get a little thicker (though not really too much). Although it rains all year long here, this is still considered the rainy season as they get a substantial amount more rain.

March stays around 60’s, with the lows being around 40’s, so it’s still a little chilly in March. April is when things start to warm up, and the average temperature is mid 70’s, the lows being low 50’s. May is the warmest season in the spring when the weather can reach 80 and the lows are now low 60’s. May is almost, on average, the month that gets the most amount of rain. Definitely pack some layers to visit in the spring, though if you are traveling in May, you can probably pack some light clothes. Don’t forget a good rain jacket and rain boots!

Summer – June, July, August

Summer is the most popular time of year to visit the park. The weather is beautiful, and it’s not too hot to take a long hike or go for a nice walk. While it may be a little too warm to dip in the hot springs, it’s the perfect time to go swimming in the lovely Gulpha creek.

Summer months usually stick around the low 90’s, and the lows get to high 60’s. It’s the best time for camping, though you may want a sweatshirt for chillier nights. Pack sunscreen for walking around in the sun, and wear nice summer waterproof sandals to go swimming in the creek. Summer storms are bound to happen, so have that rain jacket on hand.

Dressing for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Hiking – Many people visit Hot Springs National Park simply just to hike along the beautiful trails. Although many trails are short, around half a mile, there are trails that stretch as long as 17 miles long. Before you set out, decide which trail you will be walking to dress accordingly. For longer hikes, make sure to wear quality hiking shoes, bring sunscreen and bug spray and a sun hat.

Camping – There is a lovely campground within the park that is on the edge of the Gulpha creek called the Gulpha Creek campground. Visitors can stay here for up to 14 days. Even in the summer months, the nights do get a little chilly, so have a jacket and some pants with you just in case.

Swimming – On a warm spring or summer day, it is such a luxury to go visit the Gulpha creek and cool off. The creek is long and runs through the Gulpha Creek Campground. There is plenty of space to relax and enjoy the water. Make sure to bring your swimsuit and a towel and sunscreen. Pack a sun hat in case you want to lay out on the rocks and get some sun, or while you are just hanging out by the water. The creek is completely fine to walk in barefoot, however some may prefer to have some good water shoes to have a better grip on the slippery rocks.

Bathhouses – The park is a whooping 37.5 acres, so there is much to see and do. Besides walking along the nature trails and seeing the plants and trees (and animals if you’re lucky!), inside the park is something called Bathhouse Row. Bathhouse Row is a series of eight bath houses located inside the park. They were constructed between 1892 and 1923. This is also where the only hot springs in the park are available to swim in. Each house has its own history, spa services, rooms to stay in, and even breweries and restaurants. For visiting these luxurious bathhouses, you can dress casually, wearing whatever you wore on your hike. Bring a bathing suit if you are planning to visit the springs or enjoy a sauna.

What NOT To Bring to Hot Springs National Park

  • 1.DON’T Bring Valuables

    Valuable jewelry isn’t really something that has a place during this trip. Don’t risk losing anything or having anything get stolen and leave it at home.

  • 2.DON’T Bring Glass

    Although there are no specific rules stating no glass, it is a better idea to bring plastic or cans. Glass is a heavy burden to take camping or to be carried around on a hike, plus they do not pack out easily. It is also very messy when they get broken and you don’t want to leave broken glass around.

  • 3.DON’T Bring Dress Clothes

    Dress clothes are not something you will be needin during your trip to Hot Springs National Park. Save space and leave the nice clothes at home.

  • 4.DON’T Bring Drones

    It is illegal to fly any drones inside any nation park, including Hot Springs National Park. You need a special permit to do so.

  • 5.DON’T Bring Too Much Gear

    Even if you plan on doing the longest hike (17 miles), it’s really not that long considering. Most people can finish this hike in 1-2 days. Don’t overpack as it will be a burden to carry so much extra stuff that you don’t need.

  • 6.DON’T Bring Wildlife Food

    It is strongly frowned upon and even dangerous to attempt to feed any of the wildlife in the park, for many reasons. The animals could become dangerous, hurting themselves, you, or people around you. They may also become too dependent on people’s food and their natural way of life will be disturbed. So please, do not feed the wildlife anything and make sure to pack out all and any trash you may have with you. There are several trash cans located all over the park, though it is helpful to bring your own trash bags as well, especially if you are camping.

What NOT To Wear – (Click to expand)
Hot Springs National Park is no gala event or a red carpet walk, you can certainly leave your dress clothes, high heels and fancy jewelry at home. Unless you have very comfortable jeans, it’s probably a better idea to wear pants that you feel comfortable walking around a lot in, like leggings or a pair of comfortable shorts. Get to know the season you are traveling in before you overpack for the summer months, leave the snow gear at home in August!

FAQs about Hot Springs National Park

  • 1. How many trails are there in Hot Springs National Park?

    How many trails are there in Hot Springs National Park?

    There are two major areas that have a number of trails. Hot Springs and North Mountain Trails have the most popular trails because they are very easy to get to and they have shorter trails within them. West mountain trails are not as popular as they have more challenging hikes and they are a little bit steeper and longer, though they offer amazing wildlife sightings. Together, these two areas have 16 trails. Lastly, Sunset trail is its own entity and is the longest trail in the park.

  • 2. How long are the hiking trails?

    Sunset trail, the longest trail is 15-17 miles long. The shortest trail is 0.2 miles. After that, the trails are anything in between. Lots of trails combine and intersect with one another, so pay close attention to your map and follow signs so you don’t get lost, or start a trail much longer than you anticipated.

  • 3. Is there swimming inside the park?

    Besides the hot springs, there is amazing swimming in the Gulpha Gorge Campground which runs along the Gulpha creek. You can swim all along there.

  • 4. Are dogs allowed?

    All dogs are allowed inside the park, however they must remain on leash when you’re on the trails.

  • 5. How large is the entire park?

    All together, Hot Springs National Park is 37.5 miles.

  • 6. Are there hot springs in Hot Springs National Park?

    Are there hot springs in Hot Springs National Park?

    Indeed there are hot springs inside the park. However, there are no outdoor hot springs. All hot springs are located in Bathhouse Row. The Buckstaff Bathhouse and the Quapaw Bathhouse both have tubs available to soak in the healing waters. There are two places you can go to view the outdoor springs, however they stay at a temperature of 147 degrees F and are far too hot to go into. The Display Springs and Hot Water Cascade are two beautiful places where you can see the natural springs in action.

  • 7. Can you drink the hot springs water?

    In fact, there are many fountains inside the park which dispense water for anybody to come and fill up a jug. Jugs are provided by the park for free. There are 7 thermal fountains located inside the park and 2 cold spring fountains.

  • 8. What if we don’t want to camp?

    What if we don’t want to camp?

    If you would like to spend some time in or around the park, but aren’t interested in camping, there is nothing to worry about! You have a couple options. One of the bathhouses, Hotel Hale is actually a historic hotel with many rooms available to book. You can also go into the town, Hot Springs Arkansas, where there are plenty of other hotels and airbnbs.

  • 9. Is the park free?

    It is free to enter the park, visit the museum and to even enjoy a guided tour. However, the campground is $34 a night.

  • 10. When is the best time to visit Hot Springs National Park?

    The park is open all year round and each season has its own beauty. If you are looking to avoid the crowds, go during the fall or the winter. However the best weather is during the spring and the summer.