Venture Out To This Mountain West Destination For A Budget-Friendly Wellness Vacation

In Wyoming's Carbon County near the Upper North Platte River is Saratoga, an ideal town for a nature lover's vacation. Located about two hours from the state's capital, Cheyenne, visitors will find both Medicine Bow National Forest and the Sierra Madre Range in proximity. Although it has many nearby outdoor activities to enjoy, Saratoga, a town with less than 2,000 residents, has another claim to fame: Hot springs are its main attraction.

Hot springs are natural pools of water that are heated by volcanic magma hailed for providing physical and healing benefits. Saratoga was founded in 1877 and was previously known as Warm Springs. Before this, Saratoga's hot springs were where the Cheyenne, Ute, and Arapaho convened.

According to Cowboy State Daily, this changed in the early 1870s. A smallpox outbreak caused by white settlers led the Indigenous residents to abandon the local hot springs. They then became a tourist attraction, and decades later, the popular Saratoga Hot Springs Resort opened its doors.

However, the Western-themed resort does not have public access to its hot springs. Thus, if you want to soak in their pools, you must be a paying guest. At the time of this publication, prices per night start at $167. Alternatively, you could book a spa treatment to get access to the hot springs. Prices range from $80 to $400. 

If this is out of your price range but you still want to experience Saratoga and its thermal waters, fear not — there's an alternative. 

Free attractions in Saratoga, Wyoming

Saratoga Hot Springs Resort is not only the place where visitors can find a hot spring in the Mountain West town of Saratoga. Just around the corner from the resort adjacent to the North Platte River is Saratoga Hobo Hot Springs. Also known as "Hobo Hot Pool," the town of Saratoga has owned it since 1984. As such, it's entirely free for tourists and residents alike. In addition, it's open year-round, 24 hours a day.

This means you can enjoy the hot springs, which are over 100 degrees, anytime, any day of the week. Likewise, a changing room with restrooms and showers is available for guests. Take note that the hot springs do get busy. You'll also find hot pools of water on the North Platte River and a picnic area behind Hobo Hot Springs. In other words, you could spend an entire day here without having to spend a single dime. Saratoga's gorgeous scenery only makes this experience even better. 

If you need another affordable attraction for your itinerary, head to the quaint Saratoga Museum. Visitors can learn about Saratogas's history and view thousands of historical artifacts. Like Hobo Hot Springs, admission to the Saratoga Museum is free. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the museum is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. It's open Tuesday through Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the rest of the year.

Affordable accommodations and eats in Saratoga

While the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort is an excellent option for travelers who want an exclusive experience, there are more cost-friendly options for overnight stays. For example, The Sage Motel is only a seven-minute walk to the Hobo Hot Springs. Rooms at the motel, which has been partly renovated, are under $100 a night, with prices starting at $70. Another cost-friendly option within walking distance of the Hobo Hot Springs is Hotel Wolf. The historic brick hotel has been around since 1893, and prices per night range from $95 for a room to $135 for a suite.

You can find a budget-friendly meal in town at The Malt. The trendy joint sells unique craft burger creations, sandwiches, wings, and more. Every item on the menu is under $20, including their Big Kahuna Burger. At $12.99, it features a beef patty, spam, and grilled pineapple. You can get a deli sandwich for under $20 at the Saratoga Sandwich Company. On Friday nights, local pizzeria The Grumpy Italian offers a movie night special. For $36, you get a pepperoni pizza, a two-liter bottle of Pepsi, popcorn, and fried mushrooms.

Saratoga is so small that there is no public transportation system. If you live in the surrounding states of Utah and Colorado, this is a perfect relaxing road trip destination. If you have to fly, the closest international airport is in Denver, Colorado.