Day 1 : Approach Thermopolis from the South along the Wind River to see the scenic rock walls of the Wind River Canyon, which divides the Owl Creek and Bridger Mountain ranges. Keep an eye out for the native bighorn sheep that roam the canyon walls. At the southern edge of town, pull over at the White Horse Country Store and visit with owner Cindy Denton, an accomplished leather worker. Farther down the road, the Bar None Morgan Ranch offers summer trail rides through the Red Canyon area south of town. Head to Stone’s Throw Restaurant north of Thermopolis for excellent prime rib and Jagerschnitzel. Try the Flying Eagle Gallery for barn-wood-framed Western prints.
Day 2: Thermopolis was founded in 1897 to take advantage of the local mineral hot springs granted to the United States the year prior. Butch Cassidy used to frequent Tom Skinner’s Hole in the Wall Saloon. It’s since been demolished, but you can see the original bar at Hot Springs County Museum, along with exhibits of Thermopolis’ historic main street, the area’s oil and coal mining, and the native peoples. The Wyoming Dinosaur Center in East Thermopolis is a working dinosaur lab and museum, where you can participate in digs. At Lucy’s Sheep Camp north of town you can learn about Wyoming’s sheep heritage and purchase fine wool.
Day 3: Start off with breakfast at the Black Bear Café (a must for cinnamon rolls and pancakes) then head for the town’s namesake, the famous hot springs. Fed by the Big Spring, the indoor and outdoor pools at State Bathhouse on Teepee Street are free thanks to a treaty with the native Arapaho and Shoshone, who have sought the water’s healing properties for centuries. The Star Plunge and Hellie’s Tepee Pools & Spa charge an admission fee, yet offer additional amenities like waterslides and saunas. Walk the nearby Swinging Bridge suspended high over the Bighorn River for the best views of the colorful Rainbow Terraces—mineral deposits that developed from spring-water runoff over thousands of years. Hike the T Hill Trail past the buffalo pasture north of town to see one of the state’s two buffalo herds. Find another smaller pasture east of Highway 20. —Kyla