Places to Visit: Thermopolis Wyoming

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Thermopolis Wyoming

It's no wonder why Shoshone and Arapahoe Native American tribes recognized the natural hot springs of Thermopolis as sacred because of its healing powers. If you are traveling east from Yellowstone, north from Riverton, or northwest from Casper on Hwy 20, make sure to take some time to experience Thermopolis, meaning 'city of heat' in Latin, which holds the worlds largest mineral hot springs. Thanks to a treaty signed between Arapahoe chief Sharp Nose, Shoshone chief Washakie and the U.S. Government a section of these pools in the state park is accessible to the public. Relax in 104 degree waters, surrounded by colorful rock walls and roaming bison, and enjoy this amazing natural formation for free.

Thermopolis hot springs are a result of an anticline, or fold in the earth's surface, which allows rain water and snow melt to easily seep into deep cracks, heating up the deeper it gets, and then resurfacing as the mineral pools we see today. About 18.6 million gallons of 135 degree water pass through the springs every day.

The pools in the park called the Rainbow Terraces are open every day until 5:30 except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are however many privately owned hot springs surrounding the area which provide a few more amenities.

If you are visiting during the summer don't miss the "Gift of the Waters" pageant which gives the story of how the Native Americans gave the gift of the springs and shows them signing the treaty. A few museums in town such as the Hot Springs Historical Museum and the Wyoming Dinosaur Center provide the natural and cultural history of the area and many interesting displays such as the original bar used by Butch Cassidy from the Hole in the Wall saloon.

When traveling to or from Thermopolis, Legend Rock Petroglyph Site is a popular stop only about 30 miles away. The petroglyphs and fossils found in the sandstone in this area are close to 2000 years old and the best preserved in Wyoming. Also nearby are the Owl Creek Mountains, where you can view the towering Washakie Needles and a magnificent 75 foot waterfall. Go south to experience a visual geological tour in the Wind River Canyon along cliff walls that have been cut away by the churning white water of the Wind River. River and horse trips are available for those who want to spend a little more time in this beautiful location.

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