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What are Hot Springs?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated: May 23, 2024

Hot springs are ponds, portions of a lake, or pools in which water has been naturally heated underground. The body of water housing the water can vary in size. Geologists think a particular combination of rocks and minerals found underground work together to create hot springs. It is believed these rocks and minerals trap the springs and allow them to become fermented, which heats the water up. The heated water becomes sterilized and cause bubbles to rise to the surface.

The temperature of the surface water must be well over the normal ground temperature in order to be considered a hot spring. While the ground temperature in many areas averages 57ºF (13.9ºC), the surface temperature of water in springs can reach temperatures in the low to mid-100s (37.8 to 65.6ºC).

Throughout the United States, a number of locations boast natural hot springs. Arkansas houses the most popular location, Hot Springs National Park. The park was designated a National Park in 1832, which provides the area with special protection. This has helped keep the springs from being damaged by tourists or business ventures.

Hot Springs National Park is is approximately a one hour drive southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas. It is open year round, seven days per week. The water there is very pure and reaches temperatures as high as 143ºF (61.7ºC). A number of hiking trails, picnicking areas, camping areas, and bathhouses can be found throughout the park.

The majority of the bathhouses at the park are kept locked throughout the day and are operated by private firms. Accessing the bathhouses typically requires payment of a set fee and sometimes an appointment. A full body massage at the bathhouses typically includes a bathing experience within the hot springs, a manicure, a pedicure, and a facial and body scrub.

WiseTour is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon218624 — On Sep 29, 2011

Sometimes when the water cools, the minerals crystallize into awesome crystal formations!

By Amphibious54 — On Apr 06, 2011

The hot springs in Arkansas are a rarity as far as hot springs are concerned. These hydrothermal springs do not rely on volcanic activity to produce hot water. They are created by a perfect combination of natural fractures in the bedrock, combined with an endless water supply.

The fractures at hot springs national park run deep under the ground. Water falls in these fractures where it is superheated, causing it to rush back to the surface. The water travels so deep from the surface that it cools significantly as it approaches the surface. At the surface, the water is too cool to vaporize, so it forms a pool. The water in the pool circulates through convection, keeping the water a steady and comfortable temperature.

By istria — On Apr 03, 2011

@anon51801- The most common gases produced at hot springs are hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. Most hot springs are the result of volcanic activity. These areas are rich with sulfur and other minerals. This is why you will often smell rotten eggs around fumaroles and steam vents where the water is evaporated or mostly evaporated. This is why you have a natural prevalence of acid rain near some areas with hot springs. This is also the reason many hot springs and mud pots have acidic water.

A good example of an area that has springs and vents where you can smell the hydrogen sulfide are the vents at Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park. The vents that rise from the ground release a cloud made of hydrogen sulfide, which turns to sulfuric acid when it mixes with water.

By anon51801 — On Nov 09, 2009

what do hot springs produce (gas wise).

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