History, Hiking, And Healing Waters
For more than two hundred years, people have been drawn to Madison County, North Carolina for the waters. Bubbling up from the ground at more than 100 degrees, the mountain hot springs here are laced with Mother Nature’s chemistry set of beneficial minerals and have been touted over the centuries as cures for everything from rheumatism to modern-day stress. The town of Hot Springs grew up around these waters, and at various times, three grand resort hotels were built here to allow the rich and famous of the time to relax in the healing springs of this NC mountain paradise.
The hotels are gone now, but in its place is the Hot Springs Resort and Spa. The waters still draw people in, but you no longer have to be rich & famous to enjoy them. The resort offers everything from 160 primitive campsites to not-so-primitive camping cabins to luxurious suites with heart-shaped hot tubs.
“We get all types of people at all times of the year,” says Hot Springs’ Sandy West. “Hikers come in for some relaxation and civilization, families come for vacations, couples for their honeymoons, and nearby residents come for a nice weekend getaway. Our owner has worked hard to make this a resort that the average working person can enjoy and afford.”
Of course, the main attraction at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa are the hot springs themselves. The site features thirteen Jacuzzi-type hot tubs strategically placed along the banks of the scenic French Broad River and Spring Creek. Each is filled with mineral waters from North Carolina’s only natural hot springs, and each tub is completely drained after every use. After your soak, the spa offers its guests three different type of massage services: Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, and Hot Stone Massage, in which smooth Basalt stones are warmed in mineral water and used to help relax muscles and expand blood vessels.
But there’s more to this area than hot tubs and massages. The 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail runs right down the sidewalk in downtown Hot Springs, so hikers will find plenty to keep them moving. Fishing is also a favorite pastime along the French Broad River, as are whitewater rafting, horseback riding and mountain biking. The resort also plays host to the Bluff Mountain Music Festival each June.
The Resort site has its own rich history. During the Civil War, Western North Carolina was as divided in its loyalties as the nation itself. In the fall of 1863, a Union regiment made up mostly of Confederate deserters and local Union sympathizers took over the hotel here and briefly turned it into a Union headquarters, literally pitting brother against brother.
During World War I, the hotel at Hot Springs served a different function: internment camp. Hundreds of German merchant sailors were captured in American harbors in 1918 when war was declared, and the prisoners brought to Hot Springs ended up building a makeshift town on the hotel site. Despite their confinement, the Germans were treated well by the townspeople, and to this day, descendents of the World War I prisoners will occasionally stop by to visit the area. In 2009, the staff at Hot Springs is planning to develop daily history walks so that visitors can walk among the remnants of the old hotels and discover details of the area’s fascinating past.
In the end, however, the history, scenic beauty, indoor amenities and outdoor activities at the Hot Springs Resort and Spa are simply the icing on the cake. It is the soothing, healing powers of the natural mineral waters that have brought people here for hundreds of years, and to this day, those waters continue to provide an irresistible lure to affordable luxury in this NC mountain paradise.
The Hot Springs Resort and Spa is located about 35 miles northwest of Asheville and is open every day except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For more information or for reservations, call 1-800-426-0933 or go to www.nchotsprings.com
added: December 9, 2008
updated: May 4, 2009
Ideas & What To Do
America’s ultimate hike begins in Georgia and ends in Maine but…
For more than two hundred years, people have been drawn to Madison…
Number of acres in North Carolina: 45,04 Miles of Hiking Trails:…
Rugged individuals who prefer primitive accommodations, those who like…
We had scarcely been in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for an…
It’s rather like the 500 pound black bear at the dinner table;…