9 Reasons to Visit Thermopolis, Wyoming

Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis Wyoming

There are so many small towns in the United States. Every now and then I run across one that I have to ask myself, “Why did it take me so long to stop here?!” Thermopolis, Wyoming is one of those towns.

Whether you’re taking the scenic route to Sturgis, Yellowstone National Park, or you’re just on a road trip through Wyoming, chances are you’re going to ride right through this little town of only 3,000 people. Here are a few things I learned during my stay, and reasons why you need to visit Thermopolis, Wyoming!

Thermopolis is located between two beautiful Scenic Byways

Motorcycle rider on the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway
Wind through tunnels and steep canyon walls for 34 miles along the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway

On a map, Thermopolis (basically) lies within central Wyoming. Most people tend to find themselves in Thermopolis while traveling along the nearby scenic byways. To the south, you’ll find the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway. To The North lies the Cloud Peak Skyway which travels through the Big Horn Mountains.

If you’re not headed South or North from Thermopolis, the only way to go is Northwest. Cody, Wyoming is the next “big” town connecting to Thermopolis. So whether you’re headed to Yellowstone or to ride Chief Joseph and Beartooth Highway, Thermopolis may be a great overnight stay before you tackle the next adventure.

Hot Springs: Everything You Need to Know

Hot Springs State Park
Hot Springs State Park as seen from US Highway 20

Thermopolis was named after its hot springs. The Greek terminology in which it was named after loosely translates to the “City of Hot Mineral Baths.”1

The “Big Spring,” as the locals call it, resides in what is now Hot Springs State Park. Every day, over 8,000 gallons of mineral-rich, boiling hot water (135 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact) bubble up from the ground and flow over the rainbow terraces.

World's Largest Mineral Hot Spring in Thermopolis Wyoming
The world’s largest mineral hot spring, better known as the “Big Spring.”

While you can’t soak in the actual hot spring due to its scorching (and quite stinky) waters, you can in the nearby, temperature-controlled State Bath House and commercially owned properties known has Hellie’s Tepee pools or the Star Plunge.

The “Tepee Fountain” was built to vent steam from hot mineral water that was piped throughout the park.

Hot Springs State Park is also Wyoming’s first State Park, and was once known as the Big Horn Hot Springs State Reserve. In 1896, a treaty was signed with the native Shoshone and Arapaho Indian tribes that ensured people would always be allowed to bathe in the waters free of charge. The catch? You’re only allowed 20 minutes of free swimming at the State Bath House. If you want to soak longer, you can stay by paying a fee. Or you can head to the adjacent, privately owned hot springs (fee facilities).

Days Inn Thermopolis
The soaking tub at the Days Inn is fed by the nearby hot spring waters.

If the Hot Springs State Park and adjacent privately-owned soaking pools are not enough, you can also get your soaking fix in at the nearby Days Inn. There’s a hot spring on-site, in addition to the Safari Club. Inside this restaurant, you’ll find dozens of Big Game Trophy Animals from around the world on display, including hundreds of photos all over the walls. Normally, I’d say this is out of place, but in Wyoming, it makes sense.

Where to Eat in Thermopolis

From a few fast food chains to at least a dozen locally owned restaurants, Thermopolis has numerous eateries to choose from.

During my trip, I had time to stop at One Eyed Buffalo Brewing for dinner and the Black Bear Cafe for breakfast. Both were great options. If you enjoy craft beer, One Eyed Buffalo Brewing is the perfect place for you.

Black bear cafe in Thermopolis

Here are a few other options that piqued my interest while I was in town

  • Pizza: P6 Station
  • Mexican Food: Los Cabos
  • The Safari Club inside the Days Inn
  • Health Food: Nature’s Corner

>>>>> Read Next: How I Find Places to Eat While Traveling

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Source: https://wyomingdinosaurcenter.org/

In 1993, Dinosaur bones were discovered on Warm Springs Ranch, leading to the creation of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. This non-profit organization is home to one of the largest and most unique fossil collections in the world, as well as dig sites, a laboratory, and a gift shop.

Check out the Herd of Bison at Hot Springs State Park

Don’t want to deal with Yellowstone’s traffic to see a Buffalo? While the Hot Springs are the most notable attraction at Hot Springs State Park, there’s more to see. Thermopolis is home to a Bison herd, which can be seen via the scenic drive just up the hill from the hot springs.

You can get closer to the Bison Herd via the scenic drive. Just remember that they’re unpredictable, powerful wild animals.

Whether you plan to take an afternoon or a full day to check out Thermopolis, there are plenty of options to choose from in this little Wyoming town.

If you’d like to see a video recap of my trip to Thermopolis, check out the YouTube video below, and subscribe to the channel!


1 Wyoming State Library

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Staci Wilt

I’m Staci: a freelance journalist, photographer, and marketing consultant. I primarily focus those skills around my passions of motorcycles, travel, and food…and yes, we will count margaritas and craft beer in that last category. Thanks for checking out my blog!
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  1. Dave Hooper on August 16, 2023 at 2:08 PM

    Dave from nh took your advice and stayed in thermopolis Wyoming for 3 days before this years Sturgis rally. The springs, one eyed buffalo and black bear cafe were all great recommendations. Thanks for the helpful travel advice

    • Staci Wilt on August 18, 2023 at 10:31 AM

      awesome!! so glad you enjoyed it!

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