Hot Springs, NC Visitor Guide
The town is named for the reputedly therapeutic hot mineral springs that continue to draw visitors today. Surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, the area offers a variety of outdoor activities, including white-water rafting, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and camping. The Appalachian Trail runs through the heart of the town, and nearby highways and roads offer a picturesque drive through the river valley.
The History of the Town
Hot Springs history is linked with its geography—the French Broad River, the forest, and, of course, the natural mineral hot springs. From the beginning of its settlement, resorts have operated on the grounds of the springs. And, that property also became the setting of events in the country’s history—a site for a Civil War skirmish, a place to establish an Internment Camp for Germans during World War I and a strategic location for a Civilian Conservation Corp Camp during the Depression. The hot springs and the beautiful setting of the town itself would play a role in attracting Rev. Luke Dorland to retire here and form the foundation for Dorland Bell School that would eventually grow into Warren Wilson College in nearby Asheville. One of the town’s National Historic Register buildings, Dorland Memorial Presbyterian Church, was built in 1900 to honor Dr. Dorland’s memory and service to the town.
Walk through the streets of the town and you will see the reminders of this history. Several historic markers are on the main street through the town recounting the town’s connections to the musical culture, the school, the former resorts and the Cherokee heritage. Additionally, many of the buildings have links to the Dorland-Bell School either as a practice dormitory or a residence of Rev. Dorland or others connected with the school. There are several ways to learn more about Hot Springs and its history. Their extensive tourism website provides information about how to spend your time while visiting the town. The Hot Springs Welcome Center has pictorial exhibits tracing the important eras of the history. Or download the Hot Springs Walking Tour.