“This easy loop explores the largest mineral hot spring in the world.
— Karl W
Hot Spring · River/Creek · Views
This is an easy path with fascinating mineral formations. Also a bit stinky.
The Rainbow Terraces
in Hot Springs State Park are formed by springs that discharge more than 3 million gallons of 135-degree Fahrenheit water laden with minerals every day, making them the largest such mineral hot springs in the world. The formations are reminiscent of Yellowstone, but not as grand. This path will take you to the main highlights of the small urban park.
Need to Know
The Bathhouses are open 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Hot Springs State Park is the oldest state park in Wyoming, founded in 1897 to preserve the largest mineral hot springs in the world. The park is very small, and located in Thermopolis, making the park accessible but also distracting slightly from the unique natural wonder. Parking is available along Big Spring Drive.
From the parking area, you can start on this paved/boardwalk trail in the southeastern corner of the park. The slightly elevated trail will present you with great, unobstructed views of the various pools, sinkholes, and travertine ledges formed from mineral build up. The pools are various colors thanks to the rich minerals and algae that feed on them. You'll be unable to miss the smell of sulfur that's emitted throughout the park as well.
After a short hike, you'll come closer to the edge of the main travertine ledges where the hot water cascades into the Big Horn River. For a good view of the terraces, take the swinging bridge to the other side of Big Horn River. The cliff edge provides a great viewpoint of the terrace formations, which are similar to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone, but less spectacular. Be mindful near the edge. There isn't much else to do on this side of the river, so cross the bridge again.
Along the north side of the loop, you'll encounter the main stream created by the springs. The stream's colors are very vivid and beautiful. Head away from the main loop past the covered picnic area towards Big Spring Drive. Be mindful of traffic and cross the road. Here, enjoy a small viewing platform of the source of the springs. The spring is channeled, which distracts from the natural beauty, but it's still well-worth visiting.
Head back to the main loop and turn south along the paved trail. This part of the trail will offer additional perspectives of the terraces and pools, and let you see two more large pools. The loop concludes where you started.
History & Background
Hot Springs State Park is the oldest in Wyoming and the mineral hot springs are the largest in the world.