Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Thermopolis, WY

  • Published 2022/07/30

A town in Wyoming popularly known as “The Big Spring,” Thermopolis is acclaimed for having the world’s largest mineral hot spring.

Its name is Greek for “hot city,” which is perfect given its abundance of natural hot springs.

The springs were made accessible to the general public after a treaty was signed with the Shoshone and Arapaho Indian tribes in 1896.

After several decades, dinosaur fossils were also unearthed on the Warm Springs Ranch and gave way to the founding of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

With plenty of natural hot springs, fascinating fossil remains, and spectacular nature locations, Thermopolis could be your next stop for an adventurous family vacation.

This western town has exciting attractions you can explore and enjoy all year round.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Thermopolis, Wyoming:

Enjoy Plenty of Activities at Hot Springs State Park

Mineral waters of Hot Springs State Park

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Hot Springs State Park is among the country’s most beautiful and well-maintained full-service state parks.

This scenic park is located on Park Street, near the central part of town.

Here, you can enjoy a relaxing and therapeutic swim in the world’s largest hot spring.

Set up for lunch or snacks at the available picnic tables.

The park also has around 6.2-miles of common trails and hiking trails that offer stunning views of nature, mountains, and the Bighorn River.

Tepee fountain at Hot Springs State Park

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Drop by another park attraction called the Rainbow Terraces, which are natural walls formed by the flowing waters of hot spring water towards the river.

Stroll along the adjacent walkway or enjoy a more scenic view of the colorful mineral terrace at the Swinging Bridge.

Drive along Pasture Road and Big Springs Drive and catch a glimpse of wild bison herds from a distance.

You’ll enjoy taking pictures of Hot Springs State Park’s lovely flower gardens in full bloom during the summer.

Picnic shelter at Hot Springs State Park

melissamn /

Discover Old West History at the Hot Springs County Museum & Cultural Center

Catch a glimpse of the historic old west at the Hot Springs County Museum & Cultural Center on Broadway Street.

You’ll find the old bar where the Hole-In-The-Wall gang once hung out that will let you imagine the sights and sounds of the cowboy era.

Check out the wall bar and Cattle Kate’s original kitchen cabinet and peek into the general store and old doctor’s and dentist’s offices.

Drop by the reconstructed jail and see antique items at the newspaper and print shop and barber shop.

Learn about the old Hot Springs region as you walk through the Hot Springs County Museum & Cultural Center.

Enjoy the Pools at the Star Plunge

You can enjoy pool fun with your little ones at the Star Plunge on Big Springs Drive.

Open all year round, this water park’s main attractions include indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, and exciting water slides.

Get soothing and relaxing steam at the vapor cave, or break a sweat at the fitness and weight room.

At the Star Plunge, You can also enjoy the sun decks on the hillside while viewing Hot Springs State Park or try the beds at the tanning rooms.

Drop by the gift shop to get some souvenirs, have more fun in the game room, or grab some bites at the snack bar.

Soak and Relax at the Wyoming State Bath House

Building sign of Wyoming State Bath House

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Get a relaxing soak at the Wyoming State Bath House, situated inside Hot Springs State Park.

This free bath house is maintained at 104 degrees Fahrenheit and is known for its therapeutic benefits.

Native Americans, early settlers, and travelers have gone to Wyoming to experience these hot springs that, according to native tribes, were believed to have healing powers.

The Wyoming State Bath House’s waters mostly come from the turquoise Big Spring, which releases over 3.6 million gallons of hot water daily.

You’ll see the colorful mineral waters flowing from the hot springs in several areas around the park.

Find Fascinating Gems at Ava’s Silver & Rock Shop

Ava’s Silver & Rock Shop is a humble town shop that has become one of the most popular local attractions in the area.

It’s owned and managed by Ava and Eddy Cole and has caught the attention of tourists from all over the world.

What started as a personal gold rush experience in 1969 eventually gave way to a passion for geology.

The couple has significantly contributed to major museums in the United States, England, Germany, and Japan.

Look at the unique lines of jewelry, rare stones, and interesting items they have at the store.

You can also bring your own rocks and gems for identification because you might be the first to stump the Rock Shop geologists.

Find Ava’s Silver & Rock Shop on Shoshoni Street.

Discover Fossil Grounds at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Triceratops skull in Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Greg Goebel from Loveland CO, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1995, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center on Carter Ranch Road is one of the fascinating town attractions you should visit.

At this center, less than two miles from Hot Springs State Park, you’ll see some of the most amazing extensive fossil displays.

View thousands of dinosaur bones on the Thermopolis bonebeds and various specimen collections from parts of the state and all over the world.

Zuni Coelurosaur in Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Greg Goebel from Loveland CO, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about the rise of the dinosaurs during the prehistoric era through the Wyoming Dinosaur Center’s educational exhibits, featured displays, and mounted skeletons.

You can tour the live digging sites and join paleontologists in the quest for primitive remains with the Dig for a Day Program available from May to September.

Gastonia in Wyoming Dinosaur Center

Ben Townsend from Blacksburg, Virginia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Grab a Book and Coffee at Storyteller

If you’re a bookworm and a coffee lover, you’ll surely enjoy a visit to Storyteller.

This local family-owned bookstore and coffee shop has been operating on Broadway Street since 1999.

The current owner, Ellen Reed, purchased the business in 2009 and has improved the establishment to cater to more patrons.

With her nephew, they introduced Jackrabbit Java, their in-house coffee company, in 2014 to include in the bookstore.

You’ll find current and diverse book selections from local authors with topics relevant to the Rocky Mountains region.

Look through Storyteller’s various gift items, toys, and coffee accessories.

Enjoy a cup of fresh-brewed signature blended coffee and a good book on the store’s cozy tables.

Walk the Western Streets of Downtown Thermopolis

Buildings at Downtown Thermopolis

Jonathunder, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tour the historic downtown Thermopolis and feel the old west atmosphere on the streets.

The first town settlers arrived in the area in the 1880s near Owl Creek’s gateways with much better quarters than the bush houses they built near the hot springs.

Stores and other businesses soon flourished to cater to ranchers and homesteaders in the area.

The town was founded in 1897 after the treaty with the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes, opening the area near the hot springs.

Four winds trading post at Downtown Thermopolis

charkes, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Downtown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Visit the old town buildings where outlaws like the Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy loomed the saloons and are now lined with local breweries, bakeries, coffee shops, restaurants, and stores.

Stroll down Broadway where Henry “Sixteen Mule Team” Johnson’s large mule team led to the construction of the 150-feet wide street during the freight era.

Play Leisure Golf at the Thermopolis Golf Course

Enjoy some leisure tee game at the Thermopolis Golf Course on Airport Road.

This nine-hole course is nestled at the famous Roundtop Mountain, so you’ll enjoy the panoramic views of the scenic town, Hot Springs State Park, Wind River Canyon, and the Big Horns, Pryor and Absarokas Mountains.

Get your golf game mode on or practice at the putting green and driving range.

You can take lessons from the resident golf pro and get tips for a low-scoring round.

Rent carts or visit the pro shop for some golf supplies.

You can have a relaxing time after the game by grabbing drinks at the Thermopolis Golf Course’s pub and having your fill of tasty meals at the on-site restaurant.

Camp Out at the Fountain of Youth RV Park

Head out and enjoy a weekend camping trip at the Fountain of Youth RV Park, located just north of the town’s center.

You can rent a spacious, comfortable cabin or park your RV in the shaded areas.

Soak in the large mineral pool fed by Sacajawea Well and enjoy the relaxing 100-degree warm water, flowing at a rate of 1.3 million gallons per day.

The pool was accidentally discovered in 1918 when C.F. Cross struck the hot mineral water while drilling for oil in the area.

It was named after the Indian squaw who helped Lewis and Clark to the Pacific during their expedition.

At the Fountain of Youth RV Park, campers can enjoy the surrounding nature and hike the area, go fishing, or grill some barbecue and have a picnic.

Explore Archeological Sites at Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site

Daytime view of Legend Rock Petroglyph Site

Larry Porges /

When in Thermopolis, take advantage of the chance to see one of the world’s most impressive petroglyph sites.

The well-preserved Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site lies on West Cottonwood Road, about 20 miles west of Hot Springs State Park.

Tour the site, which contains more than 280 different petroglyphs displayed on individual sandstone panels.

Petroglyph figures at Legend Rock Petroglyph Site

Larry Porges /

See the 10,000-year-old rock arts unearthed by archeologists in this remote area.

At Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site, you’ll be welcomed by thunderbirds, elk, and headdressed figures that will make you feel you’ve traveled back to ancient times.

Turtle Petroglyph at Legend Rock Petroglyph Site

Tami Freed /

Purchase Tickets to the Thermopolis Cowboy Rendezvous PRCA Rodeo

You’ll enjoy watching cowboys with their rope tricks and rodeo skills at the Thermopolis Cowboy Rendezvous PRCA Rodeo.

The town used to host the biggest rodeos, and cowboys and ranchers from Thermopolis and neighboring towns participate in competitions at this annual event.

Join the town’s celebration and see cowboys in action at the bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc, and tie-down roping events.

At the Thermopolis Cowboy Rendezvous PRCA Rodeo, watch the exciting steer wrestling and barrel racing to see contestants putting it all on the line to bag the prize.

You can also learn cowboy skills by watching events like team branding, team penning, doctoring, wild cow milking, and bronc riding.

Go for an Adventurous Trek at Monument Hill

For more outdoor adventures, you can explore the trails and hike to the peak of Monument Hill.

It was named for the monuments built and left by the ancient people at the summit.

Trek the paths starting from the Buffalo Pasture at the northern side of Hot Springs State Park.

You’ll pass through the winding pastures and walk the steps on the steepest portions of the trek.

When you reach the top of Monument Hill, you’ll get a stunning view of the area with highway US 20 and the Bighorn River on the north and the Hot Springs State Park and Thermopolis on the south.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Ride the Rapids at Wind River Canyon

The rapids of Wind River Canyon

Traveller70 /

Just four miles south of Thermopolis, you’ll enter Wind River Canyon, a primary geologic territory offering excellent outdoor recreation.

The Wind River waters run through the canyon’s rapids and steady to become the Bighorn River at an area called the Wedding of the Waters.

Ride tubes, kayaks, and other floats to enjoy the drifting rapids down the river.

Signage of Wind River Canyon

Tami Freed /

You can pull out on the 8th Street Bridge, but you can float down until you reach Hot Springs State Park and end with a picnic at the park.

You’ll also catch majestic nature views and serene countryside at Wind River Canyon.

Spot some deer and antelopes at the river shores or have a hike to explore and enjoy more spectacular views.

People rafting on Wind River Canyon

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Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Boysen State Park

Poison creek in Boysen State Park

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Your family will never run out of great outdoor activities at Boysen State Park.

The earlier parts of the dam were built in 1908 by Asmus Boysen, after whom this attraction was named.

Boysen built a power plant in the area but ceased its operations in 1923 when flood waters filled the plant with silt.

You’ll still be able to see some of the initial parts of the dam near the tunnels at the Lower Wind River Campground.

A sparrow in Boysen State Park

CShepard /

Boysen became a state park in 1956 and now offers visitors many outdoor adventures to enjoy.

You’ll enjoy the river waters for fishing and boating while viewing other wildlife in the area.

Go geocaching or hunting for some unique adventure, stay a night at the cabins, or set up your tents on the campsite.

You’ll have a relaxing picnic with the lush flora surrounding the picnic grounds and shelter and enjoy other amenities like volleyball courts and a playground for the little ones.

Boysen State Park is located in Shoshoni, 24 minutes from Thermopolis.

Final Thoughts

Thermopolis is a Wyoming town in the Bighorn area where you can have great nature and outdoor recreation.

Well-known for its hot springs and ancient geologic sites, the town offers exciting attractions and many local specialty shops frequented by locals and tourists.

Experience the old downtown west and join the celebrations to experience this town’s uniqueness.

Start planning your visit and enjoy this list of the best things to do in Thermopolis, Wyoming!

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