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!