Hot Springs Village (Garland and Saline Counties)

Latitude and Longitude: 34º40’19″N 092º59’56″W
Elevation: 784 feet
Area: 57.64 square miles (2020 Census)
Population: 15,861 (2020 Census)
Incorporation Date: January 21, 1970

Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:




























Hot Springs Village, which stretches across the GarlandSaline County line, began as a developmental project and became a gated community. As the population grew, Hot Springs Village began to attract wealthy retired citizens. Its golf courses and trails also make the town a regional tourist destination. As of the 2020 census, the population is 15,861 (Garland County and Saline County populations combined).

A frequently repeated claim that Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto traversed what is now Hot Springs Village accounts for the use of de Soto’s name for one of the lakes in the village and one of its main streets, as well as his image in the community logo. French trappers were probably the first Europeans to enter the area. The land on which Hot Springs Village was developed was known as the “dark corner” of Garland County on account of its lawless reputation. Before 1873, the Hot Springs Village area was known as Marble Township and was located in Saline County. When Garland County was formed in 1873, the township was split in half. Although this area contained a small population, several communities developed, driven mostly by farmers in Marble Township. Heavily populated with moonshiners and active members of the Ku Klux Klan, this small township became a place many settlers avoided.

Hot Springs Village was founded in 1970 when John A. Cooper Sr. decided to develop the 20,000 acres of land into a retirement community modeled after two of his other successful planned communities, Cherokee Village (Sharp County) and Bella Vista (Benton County). By 1969, Cooper had been approached separately by two people with the idea of creating a retirement community, state senator Bud Canada and Peter D. Joers, president of the Dierks Coal and Lumber Company. After touring the property by air, Cooper realized the potential of the land and immediately bought 20,000 acres of land from Dierks Forests, Inc. His plan was to create a peaceful retirement community in a natural setting that would offer all modern-day conveniences without the hassle of living in an urbanized city. Unlike his other two communities, Hot Springs Village was created as a gated community in order to provide security for its residents and as an experiment to see if the gated community would result in more residents than the non-gated communities.

After acquiring the land, Cooper Incorporated, now led by John Cooper Jr., moved into the area to start developing the new community. Before development began, Cooper addressed the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (now the Arkansas Economic Development Commission) on January 21, 1970, and announced his plans for this section of Garland County. He described the village as a planned recreation and retirement community where urban amenities were readily available.

Ground was broken on February 15, 1970, and Hot Springs Village was officially opened on June 1, 1970. Cooper’s plans for the progression of Hot Springs Village were to provide for paved streets, electricity, water supply, trash service, sewage disposal, and police and fire security. Along with police protection, Cooper implemented gate security at the five gated entrances surrounding Hot Springs Village. However, the five gates—the Front Gate, Highway Five East Gate, Balboa Gate, Cortez Gate, and Glazier Peau Gate—were not approved until 1995. Secondary gates were added as a measure of security when more roads began to be constructed throughout the village.

Hot Springs Village offers three different types of housing units other than individual private lots. Townhouses were constructed in the western end, neighborhoods are distributed throughout the village, and timeshares are located in one section of the village known as Los Lagos. Townhouses, neighborhoods, and individual lots are available for private ownership; however, timeshares are only offered for limited periods of time and usually consist of two-bedroom living units. Prices for houses and townhouses range from $40,000 to $510,000, with a median price of $145,000.

Recreational activities offered in Hot Springs Village include a fitness center with an indoor pool and indoor walking track, sixteen tennis courts, two country clubs, and over twenty miles of nature trails. The community is most known for its golf courses, which constitute the strongest form of revenue for the city due to the numerous tourists attracted by them and the annual tournaments held there that draw golfers from throughout the nation. Hot Springs Village offers twenty-one different churches, including Assembly of God, Baptist, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Catholic.

Most of those employed within the village reside within the community. Other amenities offered are libraries, a restaurant, and a recreational center for younger children. The Hot Springs Village Voice, a weekly newspaper, was founded in 1990. In the 2010s, the community began marketing itself to younger professionals, rather than primarily to retirees. In 2019, Hot Springs Village began hosting the Arkansas Senior America Pageant.

For additional information:
Andrews, Ted F. A History of Hot Springs Village, 1970–2004. N.p.: 2005.

Andrews, Ted F., Fed V. Mills Jr., and Bob Reik. “A History of Hot Springs Village, 1970 through 2006.” Hot Springs Village People. (accessed January 18, 2023).

Bahn, Chris. “For Hot Springs Village, Dawn of a New Age.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 22, 2017, pp. 1G, 7G.

Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association. (accessed January 18, 2023).

Miller, Wayne P. “Economic and Fiscal Impact of Hot Springs Village.” Little Rock: University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, 2005.

Kayla Laxton
Texarkana, Arkansas


    (2018) Interesting information about the history of Hot Springs Village. I have enjoyed the Village for almost five years. There will be many more chapters written in the future about this beautiful mountain community. Hot Springs Village is currently a divided community. The property owners of the Village are going through a tough political struggle to determine the future identity of Hot Springs Village. The struggle is whether the Village will remain a gated retirement community or transform into a recreation destination community.