Different from any of the other national parks in many ways. I try to imagine what the first visitors to this area thought when they found this unique geological area with steam rising out of the ground throughout the “Valley of the Vapors.” de Soto was brought here in 1541 and was most likely the first European to see it. My sister came along for the fun -our first snow, a drive up the mountain, mineral baths, badges for the kids, tours of bath houses from their hay-day and a bath house turned brewery. You can see the steam coming from multiple open springs and streams on bath house row. We camped in Gulpha Gorge right along the creek which Ethan did wind up in as a polar plunge.
From there we visited Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR. While unlucky in finding any bling, we did have a fun timing digging in the dirt and learning a bit about the various minerals and stones that can be found in the area.