Travel: UTAH

Thermopolis, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah

Finishing up our Wyoming trip odyssey, we left Cody, Wyoming and headed south, deciding to take the eastern route back to Salt Lake City instead of going back through Yellowstone. I had bookmarked Thermopolis and their famous hot springs as a place to check out and it wasn’t far from Cody. Their town name is written in stone across the hill next to the spring.

I loved capturing this touching moment…

A small stream comes from the spring and pools further down the hill. The minerals then creep over the bluff into the river. There’s a walking bridge to cross over the river and look towards town.

This Native American Indian family was taking in the view as well. I wonder if this was the land of their tribal ancestors – I wish I would have asked them, but didn’t want to intrude. Isn’t the daughter lovely? The hot springs were once used by the local Indians.

The actual beginning of the spring is at the foot of the hill and doesn’t look like much…

The little stream brings the hot water to a holding pool and just beyond is the State Bath House and pool area where the public can soak inside or out for free.

Thermopolis State Bath House entrance

We had packed our bathing suits and a towel and I had left them out so we could reach them easily. The Bath House offers free soaks but donations are welcomed. They do rent towels out for a $1 donation or bring your own. They have nice locker room to change and shower after your soak. The warm water felt good after our week of driving, hiking and riding.

A vent was placed further down the hill from the springs and over time the minerals created a dome.

It was back on the road and down through the amazing Wind River Canyon on the Scenic Byway. I didn’t snap any pictures of the canyon as we were whizzing down through the canyon so fast and I was just trying to take it in. After you leave the canyon, the Wind River Lake with the barren Wind River Range is an amazing view to drive past – so different from our green Tennessee and tree-lined lakes!

We drove through the Red Canyon and stopped at the top to take in the view. You can take the scenic windy red road you can see in the picture but we chose the fast route. Another AMAZING view!

We turned left at Riverton, but not before checking out their Main Street area that lured us in with their neat old buildings. Unfortunately it was Sunday and no one was open.

Some of the pretty Wyoming scenery…

We made it from Cody to Evanston, Wyoming and decided to stop for the night. That left us with a short drive on Monday to get to the airport at Salt Lake City.

Being Sunday night, our restaurant choices in their small town was limited, so we went with Don Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant. They’d been there forever, and it hit the spot. I loved their old partially-lit neon sign.

We had checked into the Hampton Inn right off the interstate, and I would recommend it for other travelers. It was fairly new, nicely appointed, super clean and featured quality bedding and a comfortable mattress for our weary bones. It was nice to finally have wi-fi to catch up on the world too! Breakfast was included, and they had a good selection of hot foods, cereals, fruits, etc. that should satisfy most anyone.

In just the week and a half since we arrived in the area, the maple leaves had turned to a vibrant red on the hills. They have a Welcome to Utah sign at the state tourist welcome center so you can get your stateline photo fix.

We had a little time to kill before getting to the airport, so decided to stop back off in Park City and check out the Utah Olympic Ski Park.

Wally hit the slopes… hee hee

View from Olympic Park across the valley

Then it was time to go get checked in at the Salt Lake City Airport for the flight home. They had some beautiful art hanging in the airport I thought I’d share as my parting views.

That concludes our week and a half in Wyoming and Utah. Wyoming is definitely on our return list of destinations! Happy Trails!

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Park City, Utah to Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Day 2

Day Two of our Utah to Wyoming Travels:

We were up bright and early to see a glorious sunrise from our balcony at Newpark Hotel.

Sunrise from our Newpark Hotel balcony

Before we hit the I-80 to head to Wyoming, I wanted to stop off at the local landmark just up the street, the McPolin Barn, built in 1908. It had been a family-owned farm that was homestead in 1886  and was purchased by the Citizens of Park City to preserve it and the land around it for the community. A hiking and biking trail runs along the edge of the property. I love the character of old barns and you’ll see lots of them in my photos, recording the history of our farmers.

McPolin Barn, front view, Park City, Utah

McPolin Barn, side view, Park City, Utah

Bird sculpture that sits by the path next to the McPolin Barn & house

The McPolin House sits just downhill from the barn

Visitors can learn more about the McPolin Barn and house and their history at Park City’s website page:

Another reason I had wanted to stop off here was I had read somewhere about there being sandhill cranes in the area, and was curious if we could spot some. Just after I snapped a picture of the house something flying caught my eye… CRANES!!!!

Sandhill cranes from McPolin Barn

I LOVE the misty mountains in the background! As they flew out of sight, a hawk swooped by…

Wally was done with birdwatching and ready to hit the road…

Let’s Go!!!

Along the way…

Since I’m so snap-happy, I have tons of pictures from our drive so I’m going to post them in a gallery after the next one, which is one of my favorites. We had stopped along a narrow road where there were two Porsches parked by a wrecked car and I glimpsed the moon above the mountains.

Wyoming moon over mountain

Along the way we saw antelope, a cowboys at work, old barns and homesteads, endless farms, trout streams dammed by the busy beavers and more. We stopped off in a little community of Woodruff, Wyoming when I saw teepees and “antiques” at a little cabin. Actually, I made Wally turn around and go back after promising him I wouldn’t make him go to Fossil Butte to look at rocks…

Woodruff, Wyoming craft and antique shop

That’s enough for today.. more adventures to come!

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Park City, Utah: Day 1

Our fall destination this year was to visit Jackson Hole, The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. After looking at the area airports and our accumulated Southwest Airlines miles, we figured out it would only cost $20 to fly into Salt Lake City, Utah and rent a car for our Wyoming tour. We had toyed with driving from Tennessee and taking all of our camping gear, but the thought of all that driving, the cold nights and grizzly bears scratching at the tent dispelled that fantasy.

Since we were going to be flying half the day, we wanted somewhere close to stay near Salt Lake City for our first night and Wally had heard Park City, Utah, home to the 2002 Winter Olympics, was a neat town. After getting our rental car, it was only a short 30-minute drive to Park City. Wally had picked out the Newpark Resort & Hotel  – at Kimball Junction, just off I-80 as our evening lodging.

View from our Newpark Hotel suite towards Olympic Park ski slope

We thought it was closer to the mountains, but the hotel is located in the middle of a large shopping center with everything a visitor or family could want within walking distance. There’s lots of restaurants, boutiques, franchise box stores, a movie theater, and a walking/biking trail right outside the hotel. The view from our suite looked towards the Utah Olympic Park and the mountains. The suite was large and luxurious and this would be a great hotel to stay at in the winter with its charming gas fireplace, comfy sofa and jacuzzi on the deck. They offer specials for consecutive night stays, as well as 15% discounts for return visitors.

Our Newpark living room

It was time to get some lunch, so we drove about 10 minutes up into the hills to the historic little town of Park City. This charming ski resort town is located on a hill and there is parking on both sides of Main Street, as well as free public parking located one block to the left.

It was founded in the 1860s and was one of the richest silver mining towns in the West. Today, there’s a variety of specialty shops from high-end jewelry and clothing to western wear to western collectibles, art galleries, souvenirs, outdoors outfitters, consignment shops and more along the street. Since this is a resort ski town, prices are high, so don’t be shocked.

Park City Main Street view

Park City Main Street

Park City street moose

I had cruised Trip Advisor for recommended restaurants, and a cold beer and pizza sounded good after our travels, so we headed up the hill to Wasatch Brew Pub, The colorful flowers on their outdoor patio was inviting and the temperature perfect for outdoor dining.

Wasatch Brew Pub & Cantina with Wally and a dreamy car

We started off with a pitcher of their “Evolution Ale” which was described as “a blend between lager and ale with a hint of hops,” and quite good. I ordered a buffalo burger and Wally the pepperoni and olive pizza. Service was great and thankfully for our grumbling bellies, our food arrived very quickly.

Wasatch burger and beer

Wasatch pizza and salad

The burger was cooked just like I had ordered it and was very good, and Wally’s pizza was saucy and cheesy – just like we like it! The salad that came with the pizza was also nicely presented and tasty.

Wasatch Brew Pub interior

After lunch it was time to walk it off and shop! We have a pretty good system for shopping – Wally wanders in and out of shops that interest him and I do the same. If we lose track of each other, we call to get a meeting spot.

One of my favorite stores I browsed through was Southwest Indian Traders, which featured a wide variety of quality Indian jewelry, sand painting, pottery, Zapotec rugs, carved bears, western souvenirs, vintage skis and winter collectibles and much more. Here’s some snapshots:

Southwest Indian Traders entrance

I enjoyed looking at several of the art galleries, and discovered a clothing consignment shop down Swede Alley called The Exchange Consignment that had a variety of western clothing and accessories for men and women.

The Exchange Consignment store

A jewelry store – I like their moose

Our second choice for lunch was at No Name Saloon which was highly rated for their burgers – but the pizza won out.

No Name Saloon on left – brick building

So after enjoying their shops on the hill, I was ready to find Park City’s landmark High West Distillery & Saloon to see what it was all about. Wally’s a whiskey drinker, so I thought he would enjoy sampling their famous whiskey flight sampler to reward him for my shopping time. We found them at the bottom of the hill and one block over to the right side of Main Street when you are looking up Main Street.

High West is Utah’s first whiskey distillery in Utah since the 1870s, and still a popular watering hole today. They have the saloon and tasting room on one side and a restaurant located adjacent in a Victorian house. The distillery sits in the middle between the two buildings and they offer tours for visitors. Visit their website to learn more about their past and what they offer today:

High West Distillery & restaurant

High West roof snowbirds

And their interior is just as inviting…

Our bartender – love the earrings!

Wally with his whiskey flight samplerThe distillery

Whiskey sales room/gift shop

Restaurant entrance

So our overall impression of High West was a pretty cool place to hang out, but on the high side for whiskey/vodka samplers (but this is a tourist town). They do offer a variety of popular whiskey choices from around the world, not just their own. If you like their offerings, you can load up in their sales room/gift shop.

After food, shopping and drinks, it was time to head back to the hotel and relax for the evening. The jacuzzi tub on the outdoor deck was tempting but I was too tired to drag myself off the couch and away from my book to enjoy it. The glass-fronted gas stove was an added bonus to crank up and knock off the chill and pretend it was really cold outside.

So that’s it for Day 1 of our Western tour… coming up are Sandhill cranes and our drive to Jackson Hole, Wyoming!

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