Well hello, Arkansas! After spending 6 months roaming around the Southwest, we were blown away by just how green and hilly Arkansas was when we pulled into the Gulpha Gorge Campground in Hot Springs National Park. What we weren’t prepared for was the heat and the humidity! That being said, Gulpha Gorge Campground is fantastic and we were glad to have spent a full two weeks there.
Being a part of the National Park itself, we had direct access to some of the hikes right from our campground, which we took full advantage of. On top of that, we were only about a 5-minute drive from the little downtown which gave us access to stores, restaurants, and of course, bathhouse row. We also were less than an hour to Lake Hamilton and Lake Ouachita State Park where we spent two days kayaking.
There is a beautiful little creek that runs along the far side of the campground with a whole line of camping spots available right next to the creek. Those spots are a little tighter and most were taken when we arrived. We opted to stay further up the hill, closer to the road, but had a ton of space and were generally not bothered by other people. The big downside to our spot was that we were right next to one of the few bathrooms. Fortunately, the majority of the people staying at the park had campers or RVs and didn’t need to use them, but during Memorial Day weekend, there were quite a few tent campers nearby and there was a bit more traffic.
Our parking spot was paved, however, it was on a hill that leaned away from the road. When we were unhooking from the truck and the hitch released, the camper started rolling backward even though the tongue jack was down. Aaron hilariously thought he could grab onto the hitch to stop it from rolling, but luckily it only moved about a foot. Now we know to put the wheel chocks in before we hitch or unhitch. Always a lesson to be learned!
One of the coolest perks of staying here is that they offer you free firewood for your campsite. There are a few rules that go along with this and they are really common sense; don’t take more than you need and don’t take it outside of the park, which is in a bug quarantine. The only real downside to the wood is that it gets circulated through the pile pretty quickly and with the heavy rains, it’s generally pretty wet, making it difficult to burn properly.
The big gamble you take in coming here is that there’s’ no reservation system whatsoever so it’s first-come-first-serve. That being said, we rolled in on Sunday a week before Memorial Day and had pretty much our pick of spots. Some of them are a bit tight to back into if you have a longer vehicle, but the back row, where we stayed, seemed to have the most room and was easier to back into. All of the spaces have their lengths marked in the payment center as well for guidance. The other thing to keep in mind is that you can only stay there 14 days per calendar year.
Gulpha Gorge Campground is one of our favorite places we’ve ever stayed and for Hayden, she’s currently calling it her favorite, so if you’ve never been, you should add it to your list!
Name: Gulpha Gorge Campground
Location: 305 Gorge Rd, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901
Campground Notes: The campground is large with paved roads and paved parking spots. We had full hookups and a lot of space, however, we had a partial view of the bathrooms.
Rates: $390 for 2 weeks
Discounts: Senior Interagency National Parks Pass Discount
Verizon: Our connection was incredible and was our primary connection
TMobile: Our connection was acceptable but we never needed to use it
Camp wifi: None