We spent several wonderful days in one of favorite places on earth–Thermopolis, Wyoming. We were pleased to find that the town hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years.
Why do I have “Redux” in the title of this post? When we lived in Wyoming this was one of our favorite stops as we passed back and forth from our home in Casper to climbing trips in western Wyoming. We have been meaning to get back here for years, and the eclipse trip was the perfect excuse to do so.
We almost made Thermopolis our permanent home 30 years ago. At that time, we had the opportunity to move anywhere we wanted in the world. Our plans were to travel a couple of years and come back to Thermopolis and raise a family there. The short story is that I inherited my grandmother’s house in Georgia and we ended up staying there for the next 30 years. It was always in the back of our minds–what would it have been like to live there? How much has it changed since we left?
To our intense pleasure and surprise, we Thermopolis is not much different than it was 30 years ago. The only change we noticed was the addition of a new brew pub, where we sampled a different home brew each night.
The best and most unique attraction in Thermopolis is the hot pools. We went to Star Plunge which has changed ownership in the last few years. They have added a new slide (now there are two) and have made some minor cosmetic updates, but the place is still the same. The indoor pool has the same jacuzzi area at one end. The “lobster pot” is still there if you want a smoking hot soak. The steam room is the same and the price is a reasonable $12/day ($10 for seniors.)
The outdoor pool is the same as I remember except for the additional of a jumping platform at the deep end.
The last time we stayed in Thermopolis we were at the Fountain of Youth campground on the north end of town, which has its own large thermal pool. We were looking for a shady campsite because frankly we had had enough of dust and hot sun, but all the available sites were in the bright sun. We decided to spend a couple of nights in a hotel. We booked a kitchenette room at the Paintbrush Inn through booking.com for $70/night. We used our bikes to get around town and just kept the car parked at the hotel.
We went to the Star Plunge every day but we would take breaks between soakings to do tourist stuff. One afternoon we rode our bikes into the buffalo preserve just uphill from the hot springs. I learned that there are sadly no more genetically pure buffalo–all modern buffalo have some cow DNA.
The next day we thought that the Hot Springs Historical Museum would make a good half-hour break from the pools. We ended up spending several hours here. The picture below is the original bar from the Hole-In-the-Wall (of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame) saloon. We have a family member who plays cards for a living, and we told him that this is what his office would look like if he were born 100 years ago.
The State Park has retained the main head pool in its primitive state. This is where Sitting Bull took the waters before the land was ceded to the US.
There are also extensive tufa (rocks formed by the hot springs) deposits surrounding the head pool and runoff.
Another afternoon sojourn found us at the Dinosaur Museum. There are the requisite huge dinosaur skeletons on display, but we were more taken by the incredible preservation of some of the more mundane fossils. These are the most well-preserved crinoid fossils that we have ever seen.
After our early evening soaks in the pools, we rode our bikes to the brew pub where we tried a different beer every night.
Next up–we finally head back east–featuring Devils’ Tower and the Badlands