A Texas man whose impromptu dip in one of Hot Springs National Park's thermal fountains was captured on video and circulated on social media said he plans to make one more attempt at bathing at the Quapaw Bath House when it reopens on Friday.
Jeremy Rose traveled nearly 500 miles from Austin, Texas in hopes of soaking his injured shoulder in a pool at the Quapaw Baths & Spa but found it closed for maintenance on Saturday.
The company that operates the bath house under a lease with the National Park Service, posted on its Facebook page on Dec. 31, 2018, that it would be shut down for maintenance from Jan. 1 through Thursday.
In a bout of frustration, Rose stripped down to his swim trunks on Saturday and jumped into one of the thermal fountains located on Bathhouse Row in between the Maurice and the Fordyce bath houses, in plain view of the downtown historic district across Central Avenue from the national park.
"I had injured my shoulder what is now seven weeks ago," he said. "It was just getting worse and worse and I got it diagnosed as a frozen shoulder by a chiropractor, who then had me make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. That appointment was three weeks out into the future (at the time), so I decided to come to Hot Springs for the Quapaw Bath House because I love the Quapaw. Every time I've come to the Quapaw, I've left feeling much, much better than when I arrived.
"I was very disappointed to find out when I got here that they were closed ... and it had nothing to do with the government shutdown."
Initially, Rose made his way down to the thermal display pools on Arlington Lawn. After dipping his hand into the water, he decided they were too hot and walked up to the fountain between the Maurice and Fordyce and jumped in.
"The water coming into the pool seemed as if it was about 120 degrees but within the pool was a bit cooler ... it felt great. In fact, by the time I got out, it was not hot enough," he said.
Rose said he had gotten in and out of the fountain several times before a park ranger approached him. Although some services are not being provided due to the partial shutdown of the federal government, minimal essential personnel, such as park rangers and a maintenance worker, are still on the clock. Rose said his shoulder pain subsided after he spent nearly an hour in the fountain.
"All day long, people go by and put their hands in it," he said. "There is no sign prohibiting me from bathing or touching the water. ... People have been coming to Hot Springs for thousands of years for the therapeutic benefits of the water and that's documented. Only in the last several generations that people were prohibited to get in the water outside. I now know that it is prohibited. I did not know that then."
According to the Superintendent's Compendium, a summary of park-specific rules last updated on Jan. 1, 2018, removal of objects or bathing in any of Hot Springs National Park's thermal water features, except as provided at the bath houses, is prohibited. The determining factor for this public use limit is attributed to the fact that the water temperature of the springs is of such a high temperature that prolonged contact may result in injury. It also cites its aim to prohibit activities that are potentially harmful to the public is in the best interest of the public.
Rose was not cited, but simply informed of the guidelines set in place and asked to discontinue his use of the fountain for bathing purposes. His interaction with the ranger was "quite cordial," he said.
The national park superintendent could not be reached for comment Thursday.