The US state of Wyoming is a trend-setter when it comes to preserving the country’s treasured natural beauty. In fact, the state is home to the nation’s first national park, national monument, and national forest. The state is also know for being sparsely populated with peaceful small towns and cities dotting its wide open spaces. One example of these is Thermopolis.
The word, Thermopolis, has the Greek meaning of “Hot City”. Thermopolis is renowned for its mineral hot springs. It currently has the only traffic stoplight in all of Hot Springs County. It sits on the banks of the scenic Bighorn River at the point where it becomes the ever more scenic Wind River. Thermopolis is well worth the stop for what to do in Wyoming.
Hot Springs State Park
Hot Springs State Park is located in the northeastern part of Thermopolis. This is where the mineral hot springs are located. So, this is the first place in town that you will want to visit. The best known mineral hot spring in the state park is called The Big Spring. This is the largest mineral hot spring in the world. This hot spring has a turquoise and green look to it.
The Big Spring pumps 3.6 million gallons of water each day at a scorching 127 degrees F. The hot spring houses at least 27 minerals and feeds all the places within the state park. The best place for you to soak yourself into a hot spring pool is the State Bath House. It is a beautiful place within the state park. It offers both an indoor and an outdoor hot spring pool that you can use for free.
The hot spring pools at the bathhouse maintain a temperature of 104 degrees F. Another nice place for you to take to a hot spring pool is Hellie’s TePee Pools. They have a sizable outdoor pool that maintain temperatures ranging from 94 to 100 degrees F which is a little cooler, but still lovely. Better yet, it comes with water slides for you to use.
If you would like to soak into waters a little warmer within Hellie’s TePee Pools, there are numerous hot tubs onsite that you can use. The admission fees there are $12.50 for ages 5 to 62, $10 for ages of at least 63 and active military members, and $6.50 for ages 3 and 4. The admission is free for those aged under 2.
Aside from the mineral hot springs, the state park is renowned for its unique geological feature called the Rainbow Terraces. They look kind of like waterfalls and have vibrant natural colors. They are created from the minerals of the hot springs water, algae, and plankton. The Rainbow Terraces are found along the Bighorn River which travels through the state park.
There is also a paved walkway beside them. So, you will want to go for a walk to appreciate the beauty there. Also found within the state park is a suspension foot bridge that cross the Bighorn River. It is called the Swinging Bridge and it offers a great spot for viewing the river as it flows under the foot bridge.
Hot Springs County Museum
The Hot Springs County Museum is located on Broadway Street just west of the southwestern corner of Hot Springs State Park. This is the museum dedicated to the interesting history of Thermopolis and Hot Springs County.
The main museum feature two re-created settings from the area’s pioneer era which generally took place from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. The first one is a bar called the Hole in the Wall Bar. This was where the notorious outlaws from the gang of the same name, used to hang out. The outlaws include Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.
The other re-created setting is called Old Town Thermopolis which feature wooden boardwalks with pioneer-era buildings such as an old general store, doctor and dentist offices, a jail, a newspaper and print shop, and a barber shop. The main museum also houses one of the largest collections of American Indian artifacts in Wyoming.
There are also a collection of plant and animal fossils from the area’s prehistoric era. You can also view displays of local rocks and minerals. Military buffs will be happy to know that they can check out artifacts from area soldiers who have been part of several conflicts. Overall, the main museum has two floors brimming with interesting area lore.
Across the street from the main museum building is the museum annex which include historic structures like a one-room school, a 1918 poverty shack, agricultural and petroleum buildings, and a railroad caboose. The prices of admission to the museum are $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and children aged from 6 to 17, and $1 for Hot Springs County residents.
There is free admission for veterans, active military members, and children aged under 6. There is also a gift shop available onsite.
Wyoming Dinosaur Center
Those who are fascinated with dinosaurs will want to check out the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. It is located just east of the Bighorn River in Thermopolis. This museum contains an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils ranging from tiny Trilobites who lived in the seas to giant Pterosaurs who ruled the skies. This museum showcases one of the largest and most unique fossil collections in the world.
This museum is only around fifteen minutes away from its many dig sites. That makes this museum one of the few dinosaur museums in the world to be within driving distance of dig sites. There are guided tours available at one of the dig sites. During the dig site tours, you will learn interesting things like digging practices, the tools used for digging, and the dinosaur fossils found there.
Also, depending on the timing of your dig site tour, you will even get to watch the museum staff actually doing the work. The prices for the combo museum admission and dig site tour are $18.50 for adults and $14.50 for seniors, veterans, and kids aged from 4 to 12. Free admission is given to those aged under 4.
Wind River Canyon
Wind River Canyon is an amazing sight to behold. This is the place where the canyons border the Wind River on both sides. The best way to experience this Wyoming beauty is to go for a drive south of Thermopolis on US Route 20 until you reach the small town of Shoshoni. The drive will last for around 32 miles.
The majority of US Route 20 closely follows the canyons and river as they snake their way towards Shoshoni, making for some of the most scenic drives in Wyoming. There are even a few tunnels under the canyons on US Route 20. As you drive down the route, you will come across numerous viewing spots where you can stop the car to soak in the stunning views. You will see that it is worth your time.
So, Thermopolis should certainly be on your checklist for what to do in Wyoming. Also, Thermopolis is about an hour and 17 minutes drive southeast of Cody, the eastern gateway city to Yellowstone National Park, via Wyoming 120. It is renowned for the beautiful Buffalo Bill Center of the West which is home to five world-class museums under one roof. You can learn more about it here.
If you are in need of a hotel to stay overnight at during your time in Thermopolis, I am happy to help you out with this. Here is a hotel I would suggest for you.
Best Western Plus Plaza Hotel
This historic hotel is located on East Park Street just east of the Bighorn River within Hot Springs State Park. This hotel offers free breakfast. If you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include One Eyed Buffalo, Black Bear Cafe, and Las Fuentes. There is an outdoor heated swimming pool and mineral water hot tub at the hotel.
All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $97 to $153. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to Thermopolis before? Feel free to leave a comment below.