Attraction of the Week: Hot Springs, North Carolina
Health enthusiasts have been enjoying the amazing natural healing powers of hot springs for centuries. The mineral rich waters reportedly cure a wide range of illnesses and ailments. Many with joint and muscle problems swear by these springs for the immense relief they provide. Soaking in waters enriched with trace minerals like silica and sulfur soothes muscle aches and reduces inflammation. The heat helps ease pain, stiffness, and increases overall circulation. Drinking natural spring water also provides a multitude of benefits. Most famously, The Fountain of Youth discovered by Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine, draws thousands of visitors each year. Legend goes that he who drinks from the elixir shall enjoy eternal youth.
Hot Springs, North Carolina
The majority of hot springs are located in the Western states. Western North Carolina is home to one of the only natural springs in the Southeast. The tiny community of Hot Springs is home to a resort which is popular with tourists, wearisome travelers, and hikers. The resort has been a popular destination for travelers since the late 1700’s. Before its’ tourist makeover, the springs were popular with the Cherokee Indians whom considered it a spiritual destination. Today, Appalachian trail hikers stop by to enjoy a soothing soak after working up a sweat. On an interesting note, Hot Springs is the only town in the state where the trail passes through the downtown.
According to the visitor’s center, the town sees a surge in AT through-hikers between March and May as they head up to Maine. This gives hikers plenty of time to arrive in Maine before the cold/snow sets in. If you would like to enjoy a small taste of this fabulous 2190 mile trail, consider a hike along the Max Patch trail. This moderate 1.5 mile loop trail features dramatic mountain vistas via a treeless bald. Note – 4WD highly recommended.
The resort is located in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina. Because it is located just 45 minutes north of Asheville, it’s the perfect daytrip when you tire of the exploring the bustling foodie and art scene. As natural healing is popular in Asheville, this hot springs is the perfect compliment for anyone already interested in healing natural arts and alternative therapies. Also, do consider checking out the Salt Cave and Sauna House in Asheville.
At Hot Springs Resort, a dozen modern jacuzzi tubs are scenically positioned on a wooden deck looking out upon the French Broad River. Each tub is filled with natural mineral water and drained and thoroughly cleaned after each use. The great thing about this spa is that each tub is private so you can soak in peace without anyone gawking at you. The tranquil creekside setting really makes the experience feel natural despite the modern tubs. Although evening bookings are more popular, morning is really ideal as you can beat the heat, take advantage of the quiet, and enjoy the rustic scenery.
The water (naturally heated underground) temperature is around 100 degrees, which in my opinion, is a bit too cool for the brisk winter months. On a cold winter day, the water just feels a bit too tepid. Consider a soak during the milder fall or spring season. As minerals absorb better the hotter the water, the bath-like temp is definitely drawback. Regardless, the views are relaxing and peaceful. And, the cooler water means you can sit in longer without worrying about heat exhaustion.
A sign details the various minerals found naturally in the water. As you can see, the water is naturally enriched with a medley of beneficial minerals.
Tub Options and Pricing
Standard, deluxe, group, and premium tubs are available. Soak times are an hour. Special Premium tubs include a 90 min soak, table and chairs, and a fan or fire bowl, depending on the season. For most visitors, the standard tub should suffice. Prices vary with morning sessions being 10 bucks cheaper. Premium and group rates are much more – check the website for details. Also, keep in mind the occupancy limit and extra associated fees.
Whether you are looking to improve your health or simply enjoying some me time relaxing in a woodsy setting, Hot Springs Resort is the perfect place to do so.
Know before you go
Appointments are available 7 days a week, rain or shine. Standard mineral baths are priced at $50 before 6/$60 after 6. Deluxe tubs are $60/70. More details about occupancy limits, premium, and group rates on the website.
Camping sites available (2 night min.).
Book your tub in advance. especially if you prefer an evening soak.
There are changing rooms available. Or you can opt to change at the hot tub which offers plenty of privacy.
Feel free to bring any snacks/drinks.
An attendant will inform you when you have 5 minutes left. You can change at the tub or walk to the changing room/restroom. In the winter, you may want to bring a robe!
Arrive early to sign waiver papers. Under 18 requires a parent’s signature.
Each tub is cleaned prior to your visit. UV lights sanitize the water.
Bring your own towel – rentals are available (however, they should be included for the hefty price tag)
Although the tubs are shaded, the sun can still be harsh. Therefore, morning and evening sessions are preferable.
We smelled smoke several times during our visit. Hopefully, this was a rare occurrence.
What to do nearby
Consider a hike on the Appalachian trail. Max Patch, Lover’s Leap, and Betty Place are all great options. Check the Hot Springs visitor center for more options.
Explore downtown Hot Springs. There is not much in the area besides a handful of restaurants and shops. Browse for unique local art gifts and enjoy a cup of coffee at Artisun Gallery and Cafe. The mountain scenery is very pretty and the setting very rustic almost like an old Western town.