Snowy Soaking: Hot Springs State Park

Hot Springs State Park

You would think the thick blanket steam that rises from the world's largest mineral hot springs all winter long would be the first thing that catches your eye here in Thermopolis in central-west Wyoming. And you would be wrong. You see, not only do winter's chilly temperatures thicken the steam coming off the springs, but they also help with snow. And snow, in turn, helps the Hot Springs State Park's resident herd of bison stand out even more than usual. There's just no way a dozen 2,000-pound, uber-furry, espresso-brown quadrupeds can hide when everything is white. But don't let the bison herd distract you for too long. There is soaking to be had after all. Lots of it.

Thermopolis offers several soaking options. The Star Plunge pool and its waterslides are popular with families and the young-at-heart. Those looking for a more sedate experience head for the State Bathhouse, where there are indoor and outdoor soaking pools as well as clothing-optional private tubs. In the latter, soakers are able to crank up (or down) the water temp as they wish. All of the public pools are generally kept around 104 degrees. (When the 3.6 million gallons of water that flow into the pools daily first come out of the ground they're a sizzling 127 degrees.)

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