Camping in Hot Springs National Park | Free and paid camping options

Fall camping in Hot Springs National Park

Anyone who loves the outdoors will love camping in Hot Springs National Park. There are both free and paid camping options available, so you can choose what's best for you. The park is full of beautiful scenery and plenty of things to do, making it the perfect place to camp for a vacation. You'll never run out of things to see or do here!

Looking for something specific? Jump to a section using the links below.

Where is Hot Springs National Park?

Hot Springs National Park, a unique treasure among America's national parks, is located in the state of Arkansas. Specifically, it sits in the city of Hot Springs, nestled within the Ouachita Mountains. Known for its thermal waters, the park is a blend of urban and natural landscapes, seamlessly integrating with the bustling city around it. The park covers an area of 5,550 acres, including several lovely hiking trails, picnic areas, and, of course, the world-famous hot springs.

Gulpha Gorge Campground

If you're looking for an official campground within Hot Springs National Park, look no further than Gulpha Gorge Campground. This campground is located on the banks of Gulpha Creek and offers 40 campsites for tents or RVs. As of 2022, the campsites are no longer first come, first serve. Reservations must be made in advance using the website or app.

The campsites at Gulpha Gorge Campground are $34 per night (as of 2022), making it one of the more affordable camping options in the area. Each campsite comes with a picnic table and a fire ring, 30 or 50 amp electric hookups, and there are flush toilets (no showers), and drinking water available on-site. Stays a limited to no more than 14 days in a 30 day period, but you can only stay a maximum of 30 days in a 365 day period.

The campsites are large enough to hold (1) RV and (1) tent in the same spot, or you can put (2) tents in the same campsite.

Note: This is the only official national park campground we've ever stayed at that offered electric hookups! Usually national park campgrounds are dry camping with a couple of toilets and a few fresh water hookups around the park. For the price of just $34, you can't beat this campground!

Getting to Gulpha Gorge Campground:

305 Gorge Rd, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901 | Google Maps

Gulpha Gorge Campground map provided by

Ouachita National Forest

If you're looking for a free camping option near Hot Springs National Park, consider camping in Ouachita National Forest. Ouachita National Forest is the oldest and largest national forest in Arkansas, and is very popular amongst locals and tourists due to beautiful Lake Ouachita. Within Ouachita National Forest, there are four developed campgrounds and dozens of primitive (dispersed) camping areas.

The multiple campgrounds within Ouachita National Forest. The ones closest to Hot Springs National Park are:

Charlton Campground

Drinking water and flush toilets available. All sites are first come first serve (no reservations accepted). Campsites run $25/night and can be paid at the pay station onsite.

Getting there: 154 Milholen Trl, Royal, AR 71968 | Google Maps

Winding Stair Campground

Pit toilets available but no drinking water available. All sites are first come first serve (no reservations accepted). Campsites run $25/night and can be paid at the pay station onsite.

Getting there: Google Maps

Queen Wilhelmina State Park Campground

State park campground that accepts reservations for 41 different campsites that offer 30 and 50 amp electric hookups, water, dump station, and flush toilets and showers.

Links to the free dispersed camping in Ouachita National Forest can be found by using websites and apps such as iOverlander (free) and The Dyrt.

Harvest Hosts options near Hot Springs National Park

If you camp more than a few nights a year in the USA, you need to sign up for Harvest Hosts. If you're not familiar with the platform, it's membership with an annual fee of $99 (or $169 if you want to bundle it with Boondockers Welcome) and allows you to camp and certain farms, breweries, wineries, museums, and more all around the country for free.

If you're planning on camping in Hot Springs National Park, we definitely recommend checking out the Harvest Hosts in the area. The Hot Springs, Arkansas area has a coffee roasters and a lavender farm on the app, so check it out if you haven't already!

Private campground options near Hot Springs National Park

If you're not interested in camping at an official national park campground or dry camping in the national forest, there are plenty of other paid camping options in the area. Here are a few of our favorite private campgrounds near Hot Springs National Park:

Hot Springs National Park KOA Holiday

Located just down the street from Hot Springs National Park, this is the perfect campground if you'd like a few more amenities than the official national park campground can offer. Full hookup (20/30/50 amp) sites available, pull through and back-in options, internet, laundry, cable tv, pool and playground, showers, and more.

What's accepted: Big rigs are accepted (65 ft max). There are tent specific spots available as well.

Getting there: 838 McClendon Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71901 | Google Maps

Youngs Lake Hamilton RV Resort

This RV resort is located on beautiful Lake Hamilton and offers full hookups (30/50 amp), a swimming pool, on-site laundry facilities, showers & toilets, propane, dump station, and more. What's accepted: The campground is big rig friendly but does not accept tents.

Getting there: 3027 Albert Pike Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913 | Google Maps

Treasure Isle RV Park

Also located on Lake Hamilton, this RV park is family friendly, pet friendly four seasons, and offers a list of amenities especially for those who want to be comfortable while on the road. Full hook up sites available with 20/30/50 amp electric, showers and toilets on site, a pool and playground for the kids, and a boat launch surrounded by fishing on site.

What's accepted: Big rigs accepted (45 ft max). Tents are accepted here, too.

Getting there: 205 Treasure Isle Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913 | Google Maps

Final thoughts

Have you ever tried camping in Hot Springs National Park? What spots would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

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