Hot Springs State Park

As you may have guessed from the town’s name of Thermopolis, there is indeed something warm here. Just east of town, on the opposite side of the Big Horn River, is this gorgeous State Park. It is open, free to the public, although there are a few commercial enterprises within. Indigenous Americans feel that water has therapeutic powers. The Shoshone and Arapahoe tribes gave Wyoming the hot springs which are on this land in a treaty in 1896 with the provision that they remain accessible to the public. Visitors may still use the State Bath House free of charge. I tried to go in the State Bath House because there was a sign indicating that there was local travel information and maps inside, but it was only open from 8 to 1! But at least it’s free….

With mineral-laden waters of up to 127 degrees Fahrenheit, this is the world’s largest hot springs. I have been surprised that throughout my travels in the United States the past few years how many places I come across with hot springs. Silly me, I always assumed Hot Springs, Arkansas was the largest.

I just kind of meandered through the lower area of the park, just inside the entrance. There is lots of open lawn space for kids to run around and play and a few playground areas. There are a few for-charge places which offer various services as well as a few entertainment venues which we’ll get to shortly.

There was a road which led to a large open area where there were bison roaming:

When I finished taking that loop road and was driving back to the lower area of the Park I saw this sign:

Which was there because of this:

Everybody’s a comedian….

I did have to laugh at something just across the road from where I parked to take the two photos above:

“Honest, I tried to comply Officer but zee lid, she was broken…”

I drove back into the main area of the Park and consulted a map online to find out where the swinging bridge which Sam had told me about was located. Turns out it was just a short walk from where I was parked, though signage would NOT have directed me there…

I was on the lower of two boardwalks constructed over the flowing waters. Of course the one I was on was a dead end so I had to backtrack and go up to the other one. These boardwalks are there for a reason, folks, at places like this and in bigger parks like Yellowstone. People are supposed to STAY ON THE BOARDWALK. People have literally been seriously burned, or in extreme cases, boiled to death (and I do mean literally!) by straying off the boardwalk for that perfect (and perhaps LAST) selfie.

Sure enough, I arrived at the swinging bridge which crossed the Big Horn River.

And here were some of the views, from the bridge itself and the other side:

This is looking back towards the area with the boardwalk:

And this was looking toward the general area of the Park. You can see a domed facility which contained one of the bath houses and one of the several waterslides scattered throughout the Park. The river then continues (right side of photo) on past the Park and the town of Thermopolis to head toward points south (like the Wedding of the Waters):

Here are some closeups of the water draining from up near the boardwalks down to the river below. Sam had told me that I might see some interesting colors based on various algae which grows at certain temperatures but I basically only saw yellow and off-white. And of course any time one is near a place like this there is an ever-present smell of sulfur in the air.

And stay tuned folks – tomorrow we have an exciting (I hope) new feature coming to the blog!


After driving through Wind River Canyon on Tuesday I continued north on Highway 20 towards the little town of Thermopolis. Shortly after getting out of the Canyon I saw signs for a parking area called “Wedding of the Waters”. Curious sort that I am I stopped to take a look:

This is basically a boat launch where one may unload a small boat into the Big Horn River. Now I know what you’re probably thinking… JohnBoy, I thought you said that the river which created the Wind River Canyon was the Wind River. Well, that’s true. This is the same river but here it is called the Big Horn River (having come south from the Bighorn mountains near Sheridan, WY, north of here). Just south of this boat launch is the “wedding of the waters” where the river changes names, one of the few places in the world where this occurs.

There was a family of a father and two sons just getting ready to unload their boats into the river. I walked out on the adjacent pier and asked if it was ok to take their picture for the blog. Before doing that I looked to the left and saw a few folks fishing downstream:

And to my right were the guys launching their boats:

And I say boats because in addition to the small boat you see in the photo above there was also a blue kayak which was on the other side of their truck from this vantage point. By the time I walked up to get a photo of it from the other side the father pulled the truck into the parking area so I walked with him back down to the pier and the kids had moved the kayak to the shoreline near the other boat:

There were also two young ladies and their little dog waiting their turn to carry their kayaks down to the river (and the dog had the cutest little kayak!…. Just kidding).

As I left the boat launch to continue north there was some beautiful, lush farmland on both sides of the river:

I finally made it to Thermopolis, a cute little town with a population of about 2,800.

There were lots of small shops and eating establishments:

As I drove into town I noticed this unusual pair off to the left of the road:

Apparently this area is big on dinosaurs. Downtown there was this statue:

And just outside of town is this establishment:

I didn’t go there this trip but after reading the reviews on TripAdvisor and checking to see if I get a AAA discount (I don’t) I will definitely stop when I pass through town later this month on my way up to Cody. You will be hearing more about dinosaurs after one of the daytrips I will be taking with my brother and sister-in-law (and maybe Sam, too) one day this coming weekend.

As I was taking the photo of the first pair of dinosaurs the ladies in the car parked next to me told me to be sure to check out the horse statue downtown. Sure enough, there it was, in the center of the main shopping district:

On both sides of the statue were the “brands” of various Wyoming ranches. These represent the names of the ranches and are burned into the sides of their cattle. There were roughly 200 on each side and I won’t show them all but here is a sampling:

And don’t bother looking for the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. It’s in Montana, silly!