There are lots of reasons why a person would visit the state of Wyoming; breathtaking mountain scenery, wide open vistas, and of course, America’s first – and most famous – national park. But on that list of reasons why a visit to Wyoming is worth one’s while, many might be inclined to overlook a little-known fact: Wyoming offers some great spots to soak in natural hot springs.
While the list of offerings is not a long one, there are some great natural hot springs, and we’re about to consider them one by one.
It is worth noting that the Yellowstone area is not surprisingly where the most popular cluster is located, though cluster might not be the best word in view of the miles that separate everything in this naturally blessed corner of the state. But even in the rather undeveloped hinterlands, those looking for this relaxing way to commune with nature will have the option to do so – in most cases without having to deal with a crowd.
For each location, we’ll provide some practical information such as where it is located, how best to get there, and what options await those that do. That way you can be fully informed as you plan your trip to soak in both the Wyoming hot springs and the scenery. So pack your swimsuit, relax your shoulders and get ready to explore the hot springs on offer in Wyoming’s wet and wild wilderness.
Boiling River Hot Springs – Yellowstone NP, Wyoming
Let’s start off with one of the more popular spots in the state – Boiling River Hot Springs. Just shy of three miles into Yellowstone National Park’s north entrance (which is technically just over the border in Montana), this site is at the confluence of the Boiling River (hot) and Gardner River (cold) creating perfect temps for soaking. Being located an easy hike from a main road, you’re likely to have some company, but there’s plenty of water to go around and no doubt your aching muscles won’t care.
Getting there: To get to Boiling River Hot Springs you’ll want to enter the park as mentioned above, and once you see a sign indicated that you have arrived at the “45th Parallel of Latitude Halfway Between Equator and North Pole,” start looking for a parking area located on the east side of Highway 89. To reach the actual springs, a short hike of approximately half a mile is required. Look for the steam – it’s a dead giveaway.
Soaking is an option for most of the year, beginning mid-summer and lasting through the winter. In Springtime the melting snow and resulting runoff bring dangerous water levels, so plan your arrival later in the summer season.
Besides the water levels, be sure to keep an eye out for elk, who wander the region with regularity and are not always as harmless as they might seem.
Granite Hot Springs, Jackson Hole
Moving both south and west of Yellowstone, we now come Granite Hot Springs, located near the tourist town of Jackson Hole. While the masses come to hit the slopes or use it as a base to explore both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, visitors to Jackson also have a fine opportunity to soak their stress (and soreness!) away at nearby Granite Hot Springs.
The springs got their start in 1933, when a public relief program project harnessed the naturally heated waters into a rustic pool that to this day offers visitors the benefits of a natural spa, along with breathtaking views of the Gros Ventre Mountains. And if you’d rather a man-made pool instead, that option exists as well.
Getting there: To get to Granite Hot Springs, head south on Highway 89 then turn west onto US 191. If it’s the summer season (May through October) Granite Hot Springs is accessible via a gravel and dirt road. In winter, the spring is still accessible from US 191 so long as you’ve brought a snowmobile and/or dogsled team. In the event that you’ve left them at your hotel, there are tour operators who are willing to make all the necessary arrangements so that you can enjoy a day at the spring in combination with these exhilarating winter activities.
To access the pools, adults will pay $8 and children pay just $5. There are camping facilities onsite with amenities such as toilets and drinking water for $15 a night from Memorial Day week to the end of September. In the summer season the pools are open from 10AM – 8PM while in the winter they’re open from 10AM to 6PM. Given its location, access can often be dictated by the weather, so it’s always a good idea to call first (307-690-6323) for up to date information.
Saratoga Hobo Hot Springs Pool, Saratoga
In the event that you find yourself traveling US Interstate 80 through the southern stretches of Wyoming, approximately halfway across the state, the town of Saratoga makes for a worthy detour for fans of hot springs. Best of all, a soak in these springs won’t cost you a dime.
Run by the Town of Saratoga, and boasting both shower and restroom facilities, these pools are open 24 hours a day/365 days a year. There is both a ‘hot’ pool with temperatures ranging from 106 to 119 degrees, and a ‘warm’ pool at a relatively constant 100 degrees at Saratoga Hobo Hot Springs Pool. While not large or fancy, these are a favorite spot for locals and a must-visit for visitors to the area.
If you’re looking to do some actual swimming, there is also a municipal pool adjacent to the springs, which is open in the summer and allows access at affordable rates. Either way, these pools offer a peaceful setting, and it’s not hard to see why the local Native Americans used to come here in the belief that these waters contained healing properties.
Getting there: Getting to Saratoga Hobo Hot Springs Pool is quite simple. Get off Interstate 80 and head south on WY 130. Once in town, make a left onto East Walnut Street and you’ll see the pools at the end of the block. As was mentioned, use of the pools is free, however they are supported by voluntary donations, so if you’re feeling grateful, there is a donation box onsite to accept your offerings.
Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, Saratoga
For those looking to splurge on a more immersive experience, there is another hot springs in town, but it requires a stay at the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, which is located on the opposite banks of the Upper North Platte River. Guests here can enjoy soaking in naturally heated mineral water pools as well as spa treatments, an onsite brewery and fine accommodations.
As a nod to the Native American forebears who called this site “the place of magic waters” for their perceived healing properties, the resort features teepee covered pools available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Immediately next to this cluster of private pools is a 70 foot mineral hot springs swimming pool. The teepee pools generally run hotter (100-112 degrees) than the swimming pool (96-98 degrees), yet both are 100% naturally heated, so those numbers can fluctuate according to the whims of the Earth.
In addition to the pools, guests can pamper themselves with a variety of spa treatments at the Healing Waters Spa, make use of the fitness center, and taste local brews at the onsite Snowy Mountain Brewery. Lodging options range from standard Western-style rooms to small cottages that can accommodate the entire family – including a charmingly restored historic cabin at the edge of the local golf course. And if you’re feeling hungry after all that soaking, the resort boasts a pair of dining venues to feed your appetite.
Thermopolis Hot Springs – Thermopolis, Wyoming
For our last featured destination, we’ll head off to the central region of the state, and the enticingly-named town of Thermopolis, situated on the Bighorn River. A variety of pools await the visitor who is willing to make the trip, and thanks to a 19th century treaty negotiated by Native American tribes, stipulating that public access to the hot springs be without charge in perpetuity, you can even do some soaking for free. Their foresight gives visitors the chance to bathe in one of several areas in the park – each with its own natural and historical value.
The free access pools are located at the Hot Springs Bathhouse, which offers a pair of pools consistently hovering around 104 degrees, as well as some outdoor cooling pools connected by a wooden walkway. While there you can visit a restored version of a historic swinging bridge that was knocked down and rebuilt on the same spot. The park’s main attraction is the grandly-named Big Spring with temperatures of up to 128 degrees, which feeds the rest of the park’s attractions.
Nearby are the privately-owned Hellie’s Tepee Pools, where for $12.50 those ages 5-62 can enjoy naturally heated indoor and outdoor pools with such fun accessories as waterslides, hot tubs and a dry sauna.
Getting there: Arriving to Thermopolis requires a specific trip, seeing as it’s not on the way to anywhere. But if you take US 26 west out of Casper and hook a right onto Route 20 at Shoshoni, that’ll bring you right into town and you won’t be able to miss it.