Researcher Safety

Research permits in Hot Springs National Park may sometimes allow researchers to conduct their work in places that are off limits to or not often used by other visitors. You are expected to follow all park regulations, and conditions of your permit. If a ranger finds you violating park rules or permit conditions, you may be subject to a fine, or revocation of your permit. If there is a conflict with your proposed field plans (temporary fire closure, etc.), they will inform you by phone or email.

As you work in the park please keep the following safety information in mind:

 

Safety First

Personal safety and preservation of park resources must take priority over your research project. Do not take chances. Remember, in remote areas a small mishap can potentially lead to serious consequences. Hot Springs National Park is filled with natural wonders that are also potential hazards. There is no guarantee of your safety.

Drink plenty of water per day to replace loss from sweat, more if you are active. Be aware of balancing fluid and electrolyte levels. Avoid hiking on hot and humid days. Watch for signs of trouble: If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink water or sports drinks. Dampen clothing to lower body temperature. Be alert for symptoms in others.

Notify the Natural Resources Program Manager several days in advance of your fieldwork. Park Law Enforcement Rangers are the first to respond if you are in any trouble and they will be able to react more efficiently if they are well informed about your research plans.

 

COVID-19 Precautions

Hot Springs National Park is modifying visitor experiences to help prevent the spread of infectous disease. Some facilities or events will be closed or cancelled. Please check locally and on the park's webpage for current conditions and continue to follow CDC guidelines. As circumstances continue to change and we modify our operations as necessary, we thank you for your patience and cooperation.

  • Wear face coverings in high-visitation areas and while inside visitor facilities (if open).
  • Maintain social distancing of 6 feet (2 m), especially in high visitation areas around Arlington Lawn, sidewalks, popular trails, etc.
  • Follow current local, state, and national health guidance:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water, or use sanitzer.
    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or into the crook of your elbow.
    • If you are sick, do not visit the Park. Self isolate to avoid infecting others.
 

Wildlife and You

Never feed wildlife, even birds and squirrels. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. Animals also carry diseases that can be transmitted to people. Keep all food, garbage, or other smelly items packed away when not in use.

Ticks & Mosquitoes

Ticks and Mosquitoes are a nuisance most of the year in Arkansas, but especially in the hot, humid, summer months. Try to avoid tall grass and dense vegetation. Wear repellent even on shoes, socks, cuffs, and pant legs. Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants, and wear light colored clothing to make it easier to find crawling ticks. Check your clothes and your body often. Repellents and wearing clothing with long pants and sleeves are the best options for enduring insects in Arkansas. Bathe or shower within two hours after being were ticks live to find and wash off ticks that may be crawling on you.

Hazardous Wildlife

We may not have grizzlies and bison in Hot Springs National Park, but hazardous wildlife does exist within our boundaries. The Texas red-headed centipede is venomous and has a sharp, painful sting similar to a bee sting: usually mild, but occasionally resulting in acute reactions. In rarer cases, bites cause minor skin necrosis, dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Other multi-legged hazards include black widow and brown recluse spiders. Both are commonly found under rocks, logs, or in loose bark, and have a painful bite that can cause nausea, muscle cramping and in rare cases death. If you are bitten by a spider seek medical attention immediately.

Venemous Snakes

Venomous snakes can live in the park as well, including the Southern Copperhead, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake, Western Pygmy Rattlesnake, Texas Coral Snake, and the Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin. Be cautious of where you place your hands and feet. Rattlesnakes, centipedes, or spiders may be sheltering under rocks or downed trees.

Black Bears

Rarely, you might spot a black bear at the park. What should you do if you meet a black bear? Never approach a bear. If a bear approaches you, stand up tall, and make loud noises- shout, and clap hands. Slowly back up (do not run) and leave the area. Report all incidents to a park ranger or call 911 immediately.

Chiggers

Last, but not least are chiggers. From the family of Trombiculidae, these small mites cause an irritating rash and severe itching. It is during the larval stage that they seek out hosts to feed on. They inhabit grass, weeds, and vegetation in early summer. These microscopic relatives of ticks’ crawl onto their hosts and inject an enzyme into the skin to feed on the effected cells. Once the larvae detach and fall off, severe itching, skin rash, or hives occur. Immediately wash with soap and water if you suspect you have chigger bites and apply an antiseptic to any welts.

General Tips

When hiking stay in the middle of the trail away from vegetation. Wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks or shoes. Use insect repellent along the tops of shoes, pants waistband, shirt collar, and cuffs. Shower once you end your hike and wash your clothes in hot water.

 

Weather

Hot Springs National Park can experience severe weather any time of year. Calm, sunny mornings can abruptly turn into fierce, stormy days. Heavy rain and lightning are common during the spring and summer. Springtime also has the highest potential for tornadoes. Check weather conditions before you go into the field.

No outdoor place is safe when lightning strikes. Watch for building storm clouds. Plan activities so you can quickly return to your car if a storm begins. Return to the trailhead immediately if you hear thunder. If you’re hiking when storms approach, get off the ridges, and open places. Thick forests of equal height offer better protection from lightning than meadows.

Summer daytime temperatures are usually in the 80s and 90s, and highs can reach the triple digits with stifling humidity of 70% to 90% in July and August. Take plenty of drinking water with you on hot days. Winter months will see temperatures in the 20s to the 40s with some ice or snow fall.

 

Terrain

When traveling through the park pay attention to forest conditions. Falling trees are an ever-present hazard when traveling or camping in the forest. Be aware of your surroundings as trees can fall without warning on a windy day.

Much of the park has steep, uneven terrain. Burned out stump holes, unstable, rocky slopes and rolling material such as logs and rocks make hiking hazardous. Wear sturdy shoes or boots that provide traction, are waterproof, and support your feet and ankles over any terrain.

 

Driving Conditions

Driving conditions can be extremely variable. Wildlife in roadways, changing weather conditions, and visitors who are not paying close attention to their driving are common hazards. Please remember to be patient and drive defensively.

 
Dozens of boxes of various arrowheads and stone spearpoints sitting in a drawer.

Curatorial Responsibilities

Learn what to do before you begin collecting and once you are finished.

A woman holds a catalogued and preserved plant specimen up while wearing gloves, coat, and mask.

Material Transfer Responsibilities

Learn more about requesting and sending museum and collected specimens.

Female scientist is testing the thermal springs water, surrounded by her equipment.

Research & Science

Learn more about the research permitting process and responsibilities at Hot Springs National Park.

A man dressed in bright orange holds monitoring equipment in a stream.

Inventory & Monitoring

I&M builds a strong scientific foundation for the management and protection of natural resources in the Park. Learn more.

Thermal water flows over a blue-green algae filled crevice in tufa rock.

Natural Features & Ecosystems

Learn about the geologic features, thermal springs, and natural features that make Hot Springs National Park unique.

Last updated: May 28, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

101 Reserve Street
Hot Springs , AR 71901

Phone:

501 620-6715

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