9 Reasons to Visit 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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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!