When I was growing up, in the Pacific Northwest, Wyoming meant Yellowstone. We spent several summers at this iconic National Park with its geysers and buffalo. However, as an adult, I realized that there was much more to the Cowboy State than just Old Faithful.
Years ago, long before the creation of HeidiTown, we visited Saratoga Hot Springs Resort in Saratoga, Wyoming. I’m not sure how it came to our attention, but we are grateful that it did because we’ve been going back ever since. It’s about 3 hours and 40 minutes from Denver and just under 3 hours from where we live in Northern Colorado.
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A river runs through Saratoga, the North Platte, and it’s a town without a stop light, a fact about which citizens are very proud. It’s definitely grown a bit through the years, but it’s still the same; children can ride their bikes to school, there are dirt side streets, and the occasional dog will chase your car for a couple of paces and then turn and go back to her yard.
It’s honestly a bit of a throwback, and earlier this month, Ryan chose to celebrate his 50th birthday with friends and family at Saratoga Hot Springs Resort. We were surprised at how fast people warmed up to the idea, and before we knew it we had nearly 20 friends and family members joining us for the festivities.
There has been a hotel on the resort property since the 1950s. It has been significantly transformed through the years, and today, the resort offers lodging in the form of lodge rooms or motel-style rooms on the east or west side of the hot springs pools. The onsite spa is south of the pools.
The pools are definitely the draw at this resort. A large hot spring-fed swimming pool is the star while there are multiple teepee-covered hot springs pools and several uncovered hot springs pools. It’s a delight for the romantic getaway but also perfect for groups. Only guests may soak at the pools, which makes it easy to find a spot at any time of day.
The resort also features a brewery, Snowy Mountain Brewery & Pub, which we drank and dined in on our first evening at the resort. The food was good and the service was great, despite the place being packed.
We spent a birthday happy hour in the resort’s lounge room next to a huge stone fireplace. Our group laughed and recited poetry. Yes, instead of presents, Ryan decided he wanted each friend to bring either an original or published poem to recite. Turns out that our friends are an extremely talented bunch. Poetry was the highlight of my evening.
The walk to town from the resort only takes a few minutes, passing what has to be the World’s tiniest RV park, Saratoga Riverview RV Park. It’s adorable and I wish I had snapped a photo.
Every day, we found ourselves at the Saratoga Sandwich Company—lunch on Friday, breakfast on Saturday, and coffee for the drive home on Sunday. Not only was it one of the only places open, but it is also delicious and superbly inviting.
We also spent a cozy and wine-filled birthday dinner at Bella’s Bistro where we dined on scrumptious house bread, a ruby red Chianti and listened to more inspired poetry. With icy snow falling outside and much mirth and merriment on the inside, it was a birthday dinner for the record books.
Saratoga is tiny, and one does not go here for the nightlife, although Rustic Bar was hopping when a few of us popped into the haze for a quick post-dinner drink. Wyoming still has smoking in some bars, and this is one of them. Most of us, being from smoke-free Colorado, didn’t last long. It is a fun place with unique taxidermy behind the bar, but those from smoke-free states should be prepared!
The Malt, however, would probably be our hangout if we lived in Saratoga. This bar and restaurant had just opened the weekend before our visit. Walkable from our resort, this house-turned-restaurant space offers a thoughtful selection of whisky and burgers that will make you swoon. Think toppings like peanut butter and bacon, grilled pineapple, and roasted poblano peppers. Oh yes, please.
While the population is around 1,700, this town is by no means the “middle of nowhere.” Shoppers will be pleased with the handful of quality shops in Saratoga. There is even Shively Field Airport, which welcomes private jets to the region. There are more than a few second and third homes in the area, and an exclusive, luxury ranch resort just 20 minutes outside of town.
Saratoga even features free hot springs. When we first started visiting this town, Saratoga Hobo Pool was little more than an outdoor hot spring by the river that was only for the very brave as it was so, so hot. However, today, while it is still free, there is a heated bathhouse for changing several hot springs pools.
The intrepid soaker can plunge into the chilly waters of the North Platte, about 50 feet from the pools. It happens! There are even hot spots in the river, although no one was trying to find them. On the day we visited snow was gently falling on our heads and flakes dissolved immediately in the 108-degree water in the main pool.
Our room at Saratoga Hot Springs Resort in early November was $219 per night plus tax (deluxe queen poolside). Guests may soak at their leisure and I’d recommend bringing a warm robe because it is a short walk from rooms to the springs (there are robes to rent but they are functional, not warm and fuzzy).
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I give the breakfast buffet at the resort’s Silver Saddle Room, two thumbs up. The buffet is $15 per person and included, when we were there, biscuits and gravy and juicy sausages, among other breakfast items. The price includes coffee, tea and juice. Not bad considering in November, there weren’t many breakfast options in town.
It seems most spots are shiny and new here in Colorado, so it is nice to visit a destination where there is still a lot of old-fashioned charm. Saratoga, Wyoming, forces the visitor to slow down a bit, and maybe that’s why we like it so much.
The first time we stayed at the resort, pre-HeidiTown, I recall that I was devouring “Drop City” by T.C. Boyle. Curled up on a big chair on the outside patio in front of a roaring fireplace, I spent all afternoon reading. It is one of my happiest travel memories.
Thank you to our friends and family for making Ryan’s birthday extra special, I had no idea the hidden poetry talent many of you harbor. Thank you for making the trek to Saratoga despite some crazy road trip adventures you shared with us including 15 semi trucks blown over on Interstate 80, and a dark and treacherous drive over the Snowy Range. And a very happy 50th year to my amazing husband. This little town owes its continued existence to your support. I love you more than tacos!
Listen, my children, and hear the tale,
Then spread it wide, over hill and dale,
On the seventh of November, in Seventy-two,
A baby was born, now well known to you
In the state of New Mexico, the town of Clovis,
(I had to ask Heidi, because I didn’t know this,)
His name was Ryan, and he was a card,
His story a challenge, but not for this
Our Ryan is brave, for he took as a bride,
A redhead named Heidi, and he still hasn’t died.
They travel the country with him by her side
Off on adventures together they ride
A master woodcrafter, he makes with his hands,
Tables and cabinets and umbrella stands,
Barbarian he, he demanded a feast
With dancing and axes and meat at the least,
Not to mention a brew fermented with yeast,
A sportsman is Ryan. A competitive menace
In soccer and racquetball, pickle ball tennis
And games! Let us not forget his expertise
He wins and loses both with ease,
And now my tale must come to an end,
With a toast! To Ryan! Let all elbows bend,
Best wishes for fifty more years do we send,
To An artist, a husband, a player, a friend
This trip was not an official HeidiTown getaway and was not hosted.
Oh my gosh, I laughed out loud at “Our Ryan is brave, for he took as a bride, A redhead named Heidi, and he still hasn’t died.” What a wonderful way to celebrate his 50th. Thanks for telling us about Saratoga. We may have to take Vanessa to the tiny RV park!
Oh, you totally should take Vanessa and Walden there! You’ll love it.
If you go in the summer, there are hot spots in the river.
Beautiful place. I’ll be watching for the post about it!!!