Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

Hot Springs State Park tops visitor use list


According to the 2016 report from the Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, Hot Springs State Park saw the most visitors among the sites listed for the 2016 calendar year.

The park saw a total 1,928,083 visitors for the year; the next closest was Glendo State Park at 343,453. Though HSSP’s visitation was actually down compared to 2015 — which had five percent more, or 2,022,365 — it’s up compared to the 2011-15 average of 1,660,031. As for other popular sites in the area, Boysen had 114,608 visitors for 2016; Legend Rock saw 14,177.

Hot Springs State Park Superintendent Kevin Skates said about 10 years ago the visitor numbers averaged around 1.2 million, but counts were only kept between May and October. He questioned why counts weren’t kept year-round, and starting about five years ago all months were included.

Data used in the report is collected by traffic counters or manual hand counts at visitor centers, museums, and historic sites.

While the traffic counters are extremely helpful to document visitation, they are not without problems. They require frequent staff monitoring to assure that they are operating correctly. While 95 percent of the data collected is accurate and complete, the other five percent needs adjustment due to erratic counts or no counts at all.

Skates said it’s important for people to keep in mind those who use the northern park entrance to drive around to the hospital count as visitors to the park, and to accommodate those instances 29,000 visits are dropped off the top of the monthly counts. He further noted there are three counters at the park, and a counter at Legend Rock. Also, Skates said, every couple of years someone from the state comes up and watches vehicles, looking to see how many people are visiting in each.

Tourism, Skates said, remains the second largest industry in the state, and the most consistent.

The full report can be found online at


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