THERMOPOLIS, Wyo. – --
Over a recent holiday weekend, a few friends and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming, so we could escape the cold and soak in the hot pools in Hot Springs State Park. Of course, we also created a long list for our site-seeing objectives.
The almost five-hour drive to Thermopolis was manageable, even with some snow on the roads and we managed to get to our hotel by 10 p.m.
We planned a short trip, so we packed a lot of activities into our first day. We woke up early and went to breakfast at the Little Bear Café, where we ate some delicious pancakes and waffles. While we were in the town center, we walked around and visited a few different local shops. The main street was a cute place to shop.
For my travel companion, Airman 1st Class Landon Gunsauls, 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs journeyman, the most exciting part of our trip came next when we visited the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. The center provides a fun educational experience where visitors can learn about fossils from many different time periods. There are over 58 mounted skeletons of different prehistoric creatures and thousands of fossils found in Wyoming, as well as around the world.
Although it was too cold during our visit, the center also provides guided tours for travelers to visit active dig sites and experience paleontology first hand. The Wyoming Dinosaur Center is actually one of the few dinosaur museums in the world to have excavation sites within a short driving distance
After learning a lot about fossils, we decided it was time to make our way to Hot Springs State Park. We drove around the park first so we could enjoy its scenic beauty. We also hoped to see the bison herd. Sadly, we were unlucky, but maybe you will have better luck on your visit
There were also plenty of walking paths including one that took us across a suspension bridge over the Big Horn River. This was a beautiful vantage point for the river and mineral terrace, which is formed when water flows over the end of the geothermal springs and mineral residue is built up. More than 8,000 gallons of water flow over this terrace every day at a constant temperature of 128-degrees Fahrenheit.
There is public access to some hot springs through what is known as the bath house. There are also two other areas that can be accessed by paying a fee, the Tepee pools and the Star Plunge, which is where we went. The Star Plunge has both indoor and outdoor pools filled with spring water and maintained at 104 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round. This pool area also had water slides and a high jump making it fun for all ages, 20-year-old Airmen included.
The air temperature was cold, but the hot springs kept us warm even while outside. Soaking in the pools was a nice relief from the winter weather. Surprisingly, there was not an overwhelming smell of sulfur, which made our time even more enjoyable.
Many of the local businesses were closed Sunday, so after getting breakfast at the 7 Lazy S Café we started out journey back to Cheyenne. On our way back, we were able to see the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway in all its beauty. The canyon is about 35 miles of 2.9-billion-year-old rocks, rising 2,500 feet above the roads. The road follows the Wind River and includes multiple tunnels cut out of the rock walls with many places to pull over so you can take in the views.
Almost half-way through our drive we passed Hells Half Acre and decided to stop there as well. This is a large geological formation covering over 960 acres and housing ravines, caves and rock formations.
Once again, this was a weekend well spent exploring Wyoming and getting outdoors. Presidents’ Day holiday weekend is coming up; we hope you follow advice of the Wyoming Wanderers series and get outside and explore!