Family Outing to Hot Springs North Carolina.
It was another beautiful day on January 30th, 2011. The weather warmed to 69 degrees in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the sun shown brightly. We spent the day driving around Hendersonville, NC then Fairview, North Carolina, then Asheville, North Carolina, and then a one hour trip from Asheville up to Hot Springs, North Carolina.
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We meandered through lots of mountains and it was truly a beautiful day. The tip tops of many of the mountains were covered in snow. But the lower elevations were very clear, with only a few patches of snow remaining on some of the northern slopes.
Hot Springs North Carolina sits at approximately 1334 feet elevation in a low lying river bed between the mountains. Several surrounding mountains rise above 4,000 feet elevation. If you would like to read more about some of the Appalacian Trail near Hot Springs, and hiking information read here .
Here is a beautiful mountain stream we stopped at.
Two things that amaze me about mountain streams and mountain river water. It is always freezing cold. And it is always crystal clear.
We found this stream that was damned up and then went under buildings before joining the Laurel river.
I am not sure why they didn’t build in another location. But they didn’t, instead they built right ontop of this lovely stream that empties into the Laurel river.
It is strange that they would want to build right on top of it.
The majority of driving from Asheville to Hot Springs is fairly easy going. Not to many switch backs. There are a few steep grades, but not to many. I personally do not like some of the mountain driving. Up and down and round and round tends to make me and several of my children car sick. I am glad my husband did the driving on this trip, as he does for most of our family outings.
This is one of the better trips to take. Over all, it is a pleasant drive.
There is one general section of very steep grade, so take that section slow.
Coming down out of the mountains from the south east, this is the first sight you see of Hot Springs, NC. It is the French Broad River.
The signs say the area was settled around the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.
Just as you get into town, there is a wonderful train bridge set up for foot traffic.
The bridge was built for train traffic in 1910. It was replaced by a newer bridge that is still used. The current tracks sit about 20 feet or so from the old bridge.
The children are able to see a great deal of the engineering of this bridge. The floor of the bridge is wood. The sides and frame is steel.
The Spring Creek flows underneath. There is a strong smell of sulfur in the air.
On the bridge, we met another family with four children. I asked if they were local and she said yes. I asked where the hot springs were as we had come to see them. She seemed surprised by my question and said the hot springs were owned by the spa on the other side of the tracks. They had built hot tubs around them and you couldn’t use them without paying for the visit and needed to make an appointment. Wow, was I disappointed to hear that. She said we could get near the spa by parking near the river, but we wouldn’t be able to see the hot springs without reservations at the spa.
So on her suggestion, we took the children to the river at Hot Springs instead of the “spa”.
This is the French Broad Rive. This beautiful river is wide and shallow and it criss crosses its way through the Blue Ridge mountains of North Caroina and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The water was icy cold and crystal clear.
The waters splashed against the shore in waves. The waves just seemed to roll right up to you. This was exciting.
We found lots of sea shells, minnows, beautiful rocks, a crawfish or crawdad skeleton, and many more treasures as those waves would roll in and out along the shoreline.
On this mountain, above the river, and not far from the hot springs, I found strange rock formations that were not on the other mountains. Lots of rocks seem to rise high and twist out of the ground, spiral like on this mountain. In the photo they kind of look like tree trunks, but really they are spiral shaped colums of rocks. One of the locals told us that you can follow a trail to “lovers leap” on the side of this mountain. You can read more about “lovers leap” at the hiking link mentioned above. There are also several campgrounds all around the bottom and through out the area.
Lots of neat discoveries……..
Leftover seed pods…
Rocks that resemble eggs, rocks that are smooth and marbled, and more seed pods. The seed pods looked like small canoes. My son wanted to bring a few home to build a diorama.
More odd rock formations were near the hot springs spa. These clusters of rocks seem to rise out of the ground, in an upward push from the middle. The middle makes a deep circle, like a crater from a volcano. Trees were growing on top of some of the rocks.
We stopped in a small local store to use the bathroom and get a snack before leaving town. They had some brochures from the Hot Springs Spa and I picked one up to read. Tickets range in price from $12 to $40 per hour during the day and $30 to $50 during the evening. They also had several additional fees ranging from $40 upto $115 if you want a message or other spa treatments to go along with your dip in the hot springs. They also have overnight accomodations ranging in price from $145 to $200 for a room or from $45 up to $200 for camping or house rentals. The hot spring mineral water has an average temperature of 102 degrees farenheit. The brochure says you will feel rejuvinated after 1 hour by the setting and the water.
We journied home at sunset. The sun was going down behind the mountains at around 5pm. Mountains and mountains, in every direction, as far as they eye can see.
We will go back and do the “spa” things and see the hot springs someday. Lord willing.
It seems sad that someone (the spa) has taken over and owns such a special natural piece of the world, and this amazing creation is not able to be shared freely by all. So many families with kids obviously do not get to enjoy seeing the springs because of how they require reservations through the spa. It would be very expensive for our family of seven, to get to do that.
But even without seeing the hot springs, today was fun and filled with lots of discoveries, and wonderful family memories.