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Thermopolis, Wyo.: Winter Weekender

Hot springs, dinosaurs, and buffalo burgers abound in a small Wyoming town. 

Man in a buffalo coat at Merlin's Hide Out, Thermopolis, Wyo., image
Photo caption
Winter becomes bearable in a buffalo coat from Merlin’s Hide Out in Thermopolis.

Steamy water—the true hot ticket here—can melt away the chills of a Wyoming winter. But with dinosaurs and bison, Western views and high spirits, a long soak is just one part of a great weekend. Area code is 307.

TO DO AND SEE Hot Springs State Park A gleaming mineral terrace, a footbridge over the Bighorn River, a herd of bison, and a free bathhouse with 104-degree water. 538 N. Park St., 864-2176, Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site About 30 miles outside town, ancient etchings of wildlife and mystical beings reveal deep time. In winter, pick up a key at the state park bathhouse (168 Tepee St.) or the chamber of commerce. Star Plunge The indoor slide delivers huge splashes, but the two warm pools are the big attraction. 115 Big Springs Dr., 864-3771, Wyoming Dinosaur Center A complete triceratops, re-creations of velociraptor, colossal vertebrae of a supersaurus, and North America’s only preserved archaeopteryx. 110 Carter Ranch Rd., 864-2997, Wyoming Whiskey North of town, tour and taste at the state’s first commercial distillery. 100 S. Nelson St., Kirby, 864-2116,

SHOPPING Broadway Bygones Bone china, rare books, and belt buckles. 535 Broadway St., 864-4070, Merlin’s Hide Out Ogle sheepskins, leather vests, and buffalo hides, or try on a fur beard. 626 Richards St., 864-3657,

EATS Black Bear Cafe Known for its cinnamon rolls and pancakes, this diner turns out tasty fare all day. 111 N. Fifth St., 864-3221. Butch’s Place Find roadhouse meals, among them big burgers of beef or buffalo, in a family-friendly setting. 101 E. Main St., Kirby, 864-2669. Stones Throw A steak house serving the fanciest meals in town, such as baked oysters. 143 Airport Rd., 864-9494,

Photography by Jeff Vanuga

This article was first published in January 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.