A Presidential View

Presidential View

Perched above Hot Springs National Park is the 216 foot tall Hot Springs Mountain Tower. The tower overlooks the city of Hot Springs, Hot Springs National Park, and the Ouachita Mountains. The tower is the latest in a succession of towers built on top of Hot Springs Mountain, but none that came before compare with the height or grandeur of the current tower.

On the day I visited, most visitors arrived at the tower via the park road, but I opted to take the trails. From the visitor center, it’s a short hike up the Peak Trail to the tower. The Peak Trail connects with several other trails that can combine for a variety of peaceful day hikes.

While Hot Springs National Park has a rich history predating it’s designation as Hot Springs Reservation in 1832, the Hot Springs Mountain Tower takes pride in the more recent history. Outside the tower is a giant sign, promoting the city’s most famed high school graduate, the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. The sign invites people to take the elevator to the top of the tower, where they’ll be able to overlook where the president grew up.

The elevator ride was $7 and provided me with access to the top two levels of the tower. The top level was open air, while the level just below was enclosed in glass. The enclosed level contained information about the history of the park, including a case dedicated to Clinton’s time growing up in Hot Springs. Included were newspaper clippings and photos of a young Bill Clinton accompanied by a video, which featured locals that referred to the former president as “Billy”.

The Hot Springs Mountain Tower opened to the public in 1983, around the time Clinton became governor of Arkansas. None of the rangers I spoke with could tell me if Clinton has ever been to the top.

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