Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thermopolis, Wy

Nestled among the foothills of the Owl Creek Mountains and resting beside the Big Horn River lies Thermopolis, Wyoming. It is one of those small picturesque Western towns where the altitude is higher than the population (altitude 4500, population 3200), and is renowned for its World’s Largest Mineral Hot Spring and beautiful surroundings. The Big Horn Springs are located throughout Hot Springs County.

In Thermopolis (Greek for “Hot City”) the scalding water comes from the Big Spring, which is located in Hot Springs State Park. From this turquoise and green spring, the water flows into cooling ponds at a temperature of 127 degrees. A boardwalk leads you over terraces from the over flow of water. These terraces are made chiefly of lime and gypsum which separate from the cooling waters. The colors you see are due mainly to primitive plants (algae), which grow in the warm water. The cooler water then runs over rainbow-hued mineral terraces into swimming pools and Jacuzzis, and into the Big Horn River

When early explorers went through the Big Horn Basin they saw that all the water drained into what they would call the Big Horn River. Explorers from the South came through the Wind River Mountains and named the river found there the Wind River. One did not know the other had named the same river. The river changes names at the Wedding of the Waters just a few miles south of Thermopolis. Here the river leaves the Wind River behind and becomes the Big Horn River. The river flows lazily through Thermopolis with many public floating, fishing and bird hunting accesses.

The Wind River flows through the beautiful Wind River Canyon on U.S. Highway 20 just south of Thermopolis. The canyon walls reach 2500 feet into the sky at many points throughout this beautiful drive. As you travel you will see sphinx-like shapes of rocks a thousand feet above the bed of the river. There are castle formations and waterfalls that tumble out of the rock formed canyon sides. Look in the crevices for formations of perpetual ice and snow, which endure the summers heat.

We decided to spend the 4Th of July in this area before moving onto Jackson, Wy. It seems like a very nice little town with the Hot Springs and the river the big draw.

Leah and I went to the hot springs one morning for a soak at the State Bath house. The mineral water was warm and felt very good and relaxing. Because of the water temps, it is recommended that you only soak for 20 minutes at a time.

We are staying at the Eagle RV Park on the western edge of town. It boasts having a hundred shade trees and although I didn't count them, I believe there is. Everyday they are watering the trees and the grass.

This is a very active RV park. A lot of RVs leave in the morning an by mid-afternoon the park fills up again.

Inner tubes can be rented and the park will take you up stream so you can float back down the river. This trip takes about 2 1/2 hours.