THERMOPOLIS – If healing waters are what you seek, then a trip to Thermopolis is worth your time. Home to the acclaimed World’s Largest Mineral Hot Springs, Thermopolis provides visitors with a chance to take a dip, not only in its sacred pools but also in the full range of Wyoming history.
After driving alongside the shores of Boysen Reservoir and through the spectacularly beautiful Wind River Canyon (make sure you honk your horn while driving through the manmade tunnels – it is tradition), you can join one of the many visitors who annually travel to Thermopolis to enjoy everything the city and surrounding area have to offer.
Stretch your legs at Hot Springs State Park, where you can walk the Rainbow Terraces and view the unique colors and environment created by the area’s natural hot spring water. Cross “The Swinging Bridge” across the Bighorn River to take in the beautiful surroundings. You can also access the popular and scenic Buffalo Pastures from the State Park. Drive lazily around looking for the buffalo herd, or get out and walk at various designated spots, but it is important to remember that buffalo are best viewed from a distance or from the safety of your car.
After enjoying the sights and fun at Hot Springs State Park, why not slip into your swimsuit and relax at one of the three locations to take in the waters? Swimmers and soakers can choose from Hellie’s Teepee Pool, Star Plunge, or the Wyoming State Bath House to enjoy the hot mineral pools. The Wyoming State Bath House is free and has more basic amenities, while Hellie’s and the Star Plunge have a charge per person, but include extra fun such as water slides and basketball hoops. Families often choose the fun option, where the pools have a more kid friendly atmosphere. Find more information about each pool location at their websites, http://www.tepeepools.com/pools.html or http://starplunge.com/.
Thermopolis also offers up a lot of history to visitors. Hot Springs County Museum and Cultural Center can take you back all the way to prehistory with dinosaur fossils and lead you on a path back to modern times. From petroglyphs to the Wild West and beyond, central Wyoming’s history is widely covered at the impressively organized museum. There is a charge, $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors, but you will find it is definitely worth the small cost. Check out their website for more information at http://www.hschistory.org/.
If you are more interested in the fossil history of the area, look no further than the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. While there, you will get to see prehistoric nature in all its intriguing glory, from the small arthropod to the Supersaurus named “Jimbo”, one of the largest dinosaurs ever mounted. Not only is the museum a great place for children and adults alike to explore, they also have dig sites where you can pay to participate in scheduled fossil digs. http://www.wyodino.org/ can give you all the information you need to plan your visit.
If all this doesn’t fill your time, Thermopolis offers up even more. Walk through the downtown and enjoy a coffee from the Storyteller bookstore and coffee shop, or stop and enjoy a buffalo burger at the Thermopolis Cafe. If you are feeling chilly stop by Merlin’s Hide Out and consider a buffalo hide coat like the one they made for the Quentin Tarantino film “The Hateful Eight.” Take a canoe down the Bighorn River and have a picnic. There are also great places to fish in town or in Wind River Canyon. Whatever you decide, after a trip to Thermopolis, nestled nicely in the Big Horn Basin of central Wyoming, you’ll get back from your weekend feeling relaxed and thankful for the healing power of this little town.