One of the popular Hot Springs State Park attractions, Tepee Pool, has a new operator.
Wyoming State Parks announced that Hot Springs I Limited Partnership has acquired the Tepee Pool. The company, which operates similar pools in Nevada and New Mexico, took over operations when the sale closed Nov. 1 after a year of negotiations with the state of Wyoming.
Brooks Jordon, Wyoming State Parks District Manager, said it’s an exciting development for the pool, the park and the people who enjoy the natural mineral springs in Thermopolis.
“People can expect improved services and physical improvements to the facilities at the Tepee,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “People will see improvements that were long overdue in the condition of the facility, but also a reinvigorated interest in one of their local hallmarks.”
Wyoming State Parks has been working on realizing the master plan it created for Hot Springs State Park, which includes extensive infrastructure improvements to the facilities operating in the park. Jordan said Hot Springs 1 has the makings of a potentially perfect partner.
“They have tremendous experience and expertise in the areas of mineral water and aquatics facilities, and we look forward to anything they propose in terms of improvements and new features,” he said.
Hot Springs 1 owns and operates several hot spring facilities throughout the United States, including the Carson Hot Springs in Carson City, Nevada, and the Jemez Hot Springs in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Both facilities use water from natural mineral springs in their respective areas with no added chemicals or city water.
Keith Shellhamer, chief operating officer for Hot Springs 1, said in a statement the company “is excited to add Tepee Pools to our hot springs developments. This partnership with the state and local community, along with our expertise, will create a destination that Wyoming will be proud of.”
For now, it will be business as usual at Tepee Pool. The new owners have a year to submit a new facilities master plan to Wyoming State Parks, so no significant changes or additions will begin until the plan is reviewed and approved.
Jordan said the previous ownership submitted an ambitious master plan for the Tepee Pools that was approved, but largely unimplemented. He doesn’t know if Hot Springs 1 will incorporate any of the already-approved ideas into its master plan.
As part of the purchase agreement, Hot Springs 1 Limited Partnership inherits the management agreement the previous owners made with Wyoming State Parks, effective through Dec. 31, 2047.
“As part of that contract, they must perform routine maintenance and improvements and take care of some critical and deferred maintenance projects,” Jordan said. “Some of those improvements and condition items are past due, and they will be addressing those through the course of their contract.”
Some prioritized improvements include health and life safety, accessibility and hazard reduction. Hot Springs 1 can start improving these areas immediately, but significant upgrades and any additions will be approved through the facility’s new master plan.
The contract also includes an annual facility condition assessment by Wyoming State Parks personnel to ensure everything is adequately maintained.
The Prized Resource
Jordan said another priority is sustainable and responsible water use, a growing concern in Hot Springs State Park.
The mineral water that flows into the hot springs is a finite resource, and recent studies have shown the amount of water steadily decreasing over the last decade. Water conservation has been a priority for Wyoming State Parks, and Hot Springs 1 is already planning to address the critical issue.
“I’ve already had conversations with them about mineral water preservation and better use of water,” he said. “They have expressed interest in installing more efficient pumps and other ways to monitor their mineral water use.”
These conditions only apply to management and infrastructure of the Tepee Pools facility. The Star Plunge, the other vendor-operated hot spring in the park, has its own contract with Wyoming State Parks and will not be impacted by the new ownership of the Tepee.
Star Plunge had its own issues this past summer when it was temporarily closed by the state for allowing its liability insurance to lapse.
Meanwhile, the State Bath House adjacent to the Tepee Pools will continue operating and offering free 20-minute soaks as it always has.
Just Warming Up
For Jordan and Wyoming State Parks, the new agreement with Hot Springs 1 Limited Partnership is a big step forward in their future ambitions for Hot Springs State Park.
Jordan said Wyoming State Parks is “much closer” to releasing a request for proposal for a new hotel, convention center and aquatics facility in “a location to be determined or proposed.” He believes the that will be released within the next few weeks.
“That’s another big step for the concessions at Hot Springs State Park,” he said.
In the past, Wyoming State Parks has said Hot Springs State Park could be “the jewel of the state park system.”
Andrew Rossi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.