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Thread: Hot Springs ORV Park

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Arkansas
    --
    92

    Hot Springs ORV Park

    This place is top notch, and really draws some crowds.

    Today was the first time I rode there, although I've known about it for years. There was a 4X4 event this weekend and I wanted to ride the trails and watch the 4X4s, but it rained all day and there were fewer people on the trails than if it hadn't. I really wanted to watch some climbing on the difficult trails.

    I was prepared for the rain and still had a great time riding.

    There were some serious rigs out there, and I met a couple guys riding dirtbikes, one of which has raced in Baja and King of the Hammers. Both of them were racers and really involved in their sport. Check out reviews of this place, it's seriously tops in the nation. I seen license plates from all over the country today, even all the way from California.


    There is 1250 acres at the park. The trails are well marked, and each one has a difficulty rating for 4x4, dirt bike, and ATV. Some trails are 4x4 only, a few ATV only, and some single track for dirtbikes. Many are one-way, which is super nice, although I got turned around a few times because there are so many and they often intersect.

    The heavy rain made things a little slippery, but I did ride a couple of the most difficult trails. The trikes small size and configuration does make it easier in some situations, but when the rocks are huge, with large gaps, it's pretty difficult. I did have to get off and walk it up some spots, but made it everything I attempted. The rims took a beating though, which isn't anything new for my BR.


    The parking lot was completely full because of the event. They have camping, which many people were doing, RV hookups, showers, and a store. There are two air-up stations (air hoses) in the parking lot. This place is just four miles from town, and Hot Springs is a really cool town. They have a storied history, with major league baseball camps once popular (Babe Ruth played here), and the gangster era when Al Capone, and others like him, sought a sort of sanctuary here. There are also the bath houses that drew many people here during the late 1800's for the 'healing' property of the water of the hot springs. There is Oaklawn horse track, Duck boat tours (a thrill ride of sorts with the history of Ducks) on Lake Hamilton, many shops and entertainment downtown, and the mountain tower which has a great view. Also, Hot Springs National Park, which is one of the oldest in the National Park system, and unique because it's also a city, the only one like it in the entire National Park system. Hot Springs was also the first site of a Naval hospital.


    So, not only is there a top ranked off road park, Hot Springs is a great vacation destination.



    I'm living here for the time being, so I can ride just about any time. All the free spring water anyone can drink. There are several bottle filling stations in town, completely free to the public, hot or cold (the cold springs are UV/Ozone treated before the filling stations). Many hiking trails right in town too. A very historical and cool place.



    http://www.orvpark.com/
    http://www.orvpark.com/trails/map/
    https://www.facebook.com/superliftorvpark
    https://www.nps.gov/hosp/index.htm




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    The story of three wheels and a man...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Arkansas
    --
    92
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    Lots of rain today.
    The story of three wheels and a man...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Arkansas
    --
    92
    I haven't rode the trike in a bit, but I did go for a hike in Hot Springs National Park last Saturday. One of the other things to do here.

    My start and end was at the visitor center, the former Fordyce Bathhouse. A little more than 13 miles round trip. Dead Chief trail, to Gulpha Gorge trail, to Sunset trail, to West Mountain, on back down to Bathhouse Row via Canyon trail, which comes out at Mountain Valley water. Yes, if you've bought spring water at the store, next to Perrier and Pellegrino is often Mountain Valley, which comes from Hot Springs, Arkansas. The same water that is free to everyone in town and which my water bottles were filled with before the hike.

    I did drive into town. I normally ride a bicycle, but since I don't hike much, I didn't want to risk being too sore to ride home. There is a lot of free parking downtown, including this parking deck.
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    Checking out some of the things on the way to the visitor center.
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    There are still hot springs coming right out from the ground. They are ~135 degrees though. Too hot to soak in, which is why they are cooled before going into the bathhouses. You're free to stick a hand in, but I wouldn't suggest it.
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    This is place a lot of tourists take pictures in front of.
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    Arlington Hotel on the right. There'll be another picture of it farther away in a bit.
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    Another view of it, and yes, those are horse drawn carriages at the bottom right.
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    Another open hot spring.
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    From the backside of the Quapaw Bathhouse. That is West Mountain, and where I'll be coming back down at the end. There is a paved road to the top of it and an overlook.
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    The start of my hike. Behind the old Army and Navy hospital.
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    Although the evaluation isn't high and the mountains not tall, don't underestimate the steepness of the grades. The trails are pretty smooth, but it's still steep enough to require some measure of effort. Too many tourist think they'll just go for an easy hike and find it is more than they thought, especially in the summer months when they don't even carry a single water bottle. A few mile hike here can be pretty strenuous.

    A couple miles in at Gulpha Gorge.
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    Some miles more, and Arlington Hotel. Hot Springs Mountain Tower is the tall thing. The best view possible and it has elevator and gift shop.
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    Farther on Sunset trail. This is the longest trail in the park, and the most remote.
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    West Mountain overlook (from a different day).
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    Back onto Bathhouse Row.
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    I hadn't hiked that much in a while and I had to celebrate some. What better to do after a 13 mile hike then have some quality Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Right off the trail is the Ohio Club, and I went in for a drink. They bought their own barrel of Old Forester.
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    Yes, it was $11 for a glass, but this guy approves.
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    I was being a little sentimental as well. I visited the Old Forester distillery this year.
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    The hot springs here were made a National Reserve before Arkansas was even a state. That's how much history is here. This was the very first National Reserve. That's before there were National Parks. In a way, Hot Springs, Arkansas was the very first National Park. The history here is incredible.
    Last edited by ATC King; 11-07-2018 at 12:59 AM.
    The story of three wheels and a man...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Arkansas
    --
    92
    Not a trike ride again. I'm working on prettying the BR up some, which I'm not so sure of because it'll probably just get ugly again.

    Something with all the same color fenders and tank would be nice for a change.



    In the meantime, I done something else that I like to do and is a thing in Hot Springs. I went mountain biking. Arkansas is a national destination for mountain biking. The IMBA had their national summit in Northwest Arkansas a couple years back. To put it in perspective, they normally have it in states like Colorado. There are some IMBA Epic trails in Arkansas and they are now working with Hot Springs on building mountain bike trails.


    Last weekend, Hot Springs officially opened the North Woods trail system, which connects to Cedar Glades park trails. It was a cool weekend and quite a few people were riding.


    Anyone coming here who loves the outdoors and some city life has more than enough to enjoy for a week long vacation. There are still many remnants of the long decline Hot Springs has been in, but it's a very exciting time, as much effort is going into reviving it. Some people compare the current Hot Springs to how other famous tourist destinations were like when they started to climb. As someone who has been coming here since their teen years, I can vouch for that.


    Some pics from last weekend:
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    Last edited by ATC King; 11-19-2018 at 09:38 PM.
    The story of three wheels and a man...

  5. #5
    Arky-X is offline At The Back Of The Pack Arm chair racerAt the back of the pack
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Arkansas
    --
    280
    Lived in central Arkansas all my life and never ventured to Hot Springs much. Wife and I finally took a day and went to a bath house and a stroll around town. Ended up at the casino at Oaklawn (horse track.) That place has grown quite a bit. I still don't get why people drive to Oklahoma for the casinos when Oaklawn has just as much for gambling.

    Thanks for all the pics. Some day, I'll try that ORV park.

    You should try Wolf Pen Gap in Mena some time. It is quite a drive but worth it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Arkansas
    --
    92
    Oaklawn is a horse of a different color, as far as gambling in the state. Just recently, a lot will change though, with four Arkansas counties now allowing casinos. Oaklawn has a large expansion coming because they got one of the four casino permits. Another, if you can believe it, is planned for Pine Bluff. Anyone not familiar with Pine Bluff, just do an internet search. The murder rate per capita is extremely high. The Pine Bluff casino was proposed by the Quapaw tribe, and certainly some other Native American tribes contributed to legalizing casinos in Arkansas.


    I've never been to Oaklawn. I'm not big on gambling, but I'll go at some point. I've been to the river boats in Shreveport, the casinos in Idabel and Broken Bow, I think Fort Smith, and Reno, but I just don't care for it much. I haven't been to any casino in years and probably bought less than 10 lottery tickets in as much time.


    As far as growth in Hot Springs, it isn't by accident. Several entities have put time and money into promoting tourism, and the National Park Service has partnered with private companies on federal properties that weren't being fully utilized, including the bath houses that weren't in any type of operation for years.

    Wolf Pen Gap; As soon as I had a drivers license, I was going there. I've been there on dirt bikes, trikes, quads, and UTVs. The general area is also were I went camping with girlfriends over the years. I don't go there much anymore, for a couple reasons. The trails there used to be much narrower and technical, but the UTV explosion and nearby property owners wanting to capitalize on them, have widened and smoothed the trails to the point a Jeep can traverse many of them. I'm not knocking on anyone with a UTV, it's just those trails became less trail and more road to accommodate them.
    The other, very unfortunate thing, is that Albert Pike campground was closed in 2010 after 20 people died overnight during flooding. That was a super nice place to camp, and many people, including myself, have generations of family memories there. I rode a dual purpose bike through there a month ago, and it's so depressing to see it now. Campsites overgrown and shower houses boarded up. Not to detract from the lives lost there, but more than 35,000 people die every year on US highways, yet they don't shut those down. That number doesn't include the impact on family members and those who's injuries reduce their quality of life.


    Anyhow, I don't really ride at Wolf Pen anymore. Seriously, a 2x4 pickup truck can be driven down a couple of them now, maybe even a 1980's Olds 88 with some dubs. Some of the other trails and roads are closed now too. 512 is closed, which used to connect just outside Albert Pike campground, and popped out near the fire tower, which is also gated now. There are also a handful of trails in the general area that used to be open, which are now closed. I used to wilderness camp a lot on those trails and ride during the day. I feel that whole forest area is poorly managed for recreation anymore. I think the Blue Hole is open again, which we used to swim at a lot, was closed, then reopened. Basically, idiots throwing trash and doing drugs are what got it closed off to the public. It's on private land.

    The Winding Stairs trail, Little Missouri Falls, and all the things to visit there, I just don't go anymore. Not that I won't go or wouldn't go if a group wanted to ride there, to me, it's just not the fun it used to be from my experiences growing up going there. I'm sure many people still have or would have a great time there.

    One funny story is when myself and another trike rider were out there. I was on a 185S and the other on a 200ES. We put an ice chest on the ES, with sandwiches in baggies and some sodas. We stopped about lunch time, on a trail, on top of a hill with a good view to enjoy lunch. What lunch? Every sandwich was soup inside the baggie and all but one soda can had burst. The contents of the ice chest was a total mess. We had a snack bag or two of Cheetos, that's it. A hardtail on rocky terrain IS NOT ice chest friendly. May as well be a blender on the back rack.

    Another story, not so funny, the other rider crashed and later required surgery to reattach some torn parts. That was a very, very, very long night. No cell phone service out there and we were camping in the woods. It's a very bad feeling to look back an not see the rider that was just right behind you, then to go back and find them bleeding and not doing so well. That could have gone a lot worse, but we wear helmets.
    Last edited by ATC King; 11-20-2018 at 10:26 PM.
    The story of three wheels and a man...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Arkansas
    --
    92
    Anyone want to plan a St. Patty's day ride?

    Hot Springs has the worlds shortest St. Patty's day parade. http://www.shorteststpats.com/

    Free concert is Smash Mouth and Three Dog Night. The Idaho Potato 18 wheeler will be here. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleads will be here. Ralph Macchio 'Karate Kid' is the grand marshal, and the 1st annual 0K http://www.shorteststpats.com/2018/1...ro-k-footrace/ race is this year.

    The king is Scott McLard of McLard's BBQ (90 years strong) and the Queen is Dona Pettey of the Ohio Club. https://twitter.com/ShortestStPats/s...%2Fschedule%2F
    The story of three wheels and a man...

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