Nicknamed the Cowboy State, Wyoming boasts expansive ranches, sprawling wilderness, and two national parks. It’s also home to 60 percent of the world’s hot geysers, with just as many natural hot springs to boot. Many of the state’s hot springs are perfect for a quick soak, as well as situated within driving distance of most Wyoming vacation rentals. Here are the five best natural hot springs that Wyoming has to offer.
1. Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis, Wyoming
“Thermopolis” means “hot city” in Greek, and the city in question is aptly named. Hot Springs State Park is a 6.5-acre recreation area with paved paths winding through lightly wooded areas and open grassland. On site is a large bathhouse, open to the public year-round, free to enter, and spring-fed. There are private and public pools containing waters maintained at a comfortable 104 degrees Fahrenheit. There are no time limits on soaking, and the atmosphere is generally congenial and peaceful. The bathhouse pools are covered but still open, letting you take advantage of incoming sunlight as you soak.
Nearby water slides are a big favorite among kids and adults. Before or after soaking, explore the park’s hiking trails. During the off-season, you may even catch the daily morning feeding of the resident bison herd, some 25 to 30 members strong. This group is the central herd for all Wyoming state parks.
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2. Hobo Hot Pool, Saratoga, Wyoming
The Hobo Hot Pool is a main local attraction, maintained by the Town of Saratoga. The pool is actually two spring-fed pools in proximity to the local Saratoga Municipal Swimming Pool, a cold pool. The spring-fed pools’ temperatures are engineered for public comfort. One pool’s temperature remains at 100 degrees Fahrenheit and is recommended for children. The second pool’s temperature reaches 119 degrees Fahrenheit, and adults tend to prefer this one.
Family-friendliness is the rule, and clothing is a must. The adjacent bathhouse has showers and restrooms, and stone benches flanking the spring-fed pools’ perimeters let you take a breather, a photo, or a bite of your prepacked lunch. The cold pool is open seasonally, but the bathhouse, its spring-fed pools, the restrooms, and the showers are open 24 hours every day of the year, and they’re free.
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3. Granite Hot Springs, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming
Granite Hot Springs are the jewel in the Bridger-Teton National Forest crown. Just 30 miles south of Jackson, the springs feed an immense developed concrete pool tucked away in the Gros Ventre Mountains, with the bows of pine, fir, and spruce skimming the pool’s environs. You can see the mountains and rolling wooded scenery all around you from the pool. Families are welcome; alcohol is not. There are restrooms and changing rooms for your convenience.
Granite Hot Springs are seasonally open and snow-dependent, so confirm the summer and winter opening dates prior to solidifying your travel plans. Recheck that the pool is open on the day you intend to visit. The pool is so remote, there is no cell service. In the winter, the mountain location is only accessible by fat biking, skiing, snowmobile, or dogsled. There are entrance fees for adults and children. Water temperatures are about 112 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer owing to runoff from melted snow.
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4. Boiling River Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Don’t be frightened by the name: Boiling Hot River Springs hover at about 135 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a touch hotter than a hot chocolate at a national chain coffeehouse. The springs converge with Gardner River, near Mammoth Springs, just south of the 45th Parallel Bridge, and this confluence keeps temperatures bearable. Children and their families flock to the springs annually, taking a moment to soak while checking off the list of Yellowstone’s must-see items.
Boiling River’s size makes it ideal for swimming. There’s tons of space for visitors to frolic and play while the spring’s waters cascade over rock formations before entering Gardner River. A paved trail runs alongside the river, and there’s plenty of lawn for picnicking and chilling between laps. Yellowstone’s admission fee automatically gives you access to the river, which closes at night.
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5. Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Why settle for one national park hot spring when you can have two for the same price? Firehole River, like Boiling River, consists of underground springs that feed into a larger river. Firehole is a major tributary of Madison River, which accounts for its cooler temperature. At its hottest, Firehole River reaches 86 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, it is extremely popular for swimming and extended soaking. There are boulders scattered throughout the river, offering some incentive to go exploring underwater. There are no lifeguards on duty, but the river is always peaceful despite large summertime crowds.
Roadside parking and changing rooms let you discreetly leave behind your ride and your clothing. It’s a family spot, so bathing suits are an unbreakable rule. Sturdy wooden stairs permit direct access to the river. The roomy riverbank has enough space for you to stretch out and take in the Yellowstone scenery, dominated by mountains in the distance, verdant hills, wooded valleys, and vast prairies.
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