Lander Man Mistakes Hot Spring For Parking Lot, Drives Into It

A “youngish” man from Lander, Wyoming, got an expensive wake-up call Sunday at Hot Springs State Park when he mistook a hot springs flow for a parking lot and drove into it.

Clair McFarland

January 24, 20242 min read

This SUV ended up in a hot springs flow in Thermopolis on Sunday.
This SUV ended up in a hot springs flow in Thermopolis on Sunday. (Jody Donald via Thermopolis Our Home Town Facebook page)

Thinking a Thermopolis hot springs flow was a parking lot, a Lander man drove into it Sunday and got his SUV stuck.

Alone in his vehicle, the driver was a “youngish” adult male from Lander, said Chris Delay, Hot Springs State Park supervisor.

“(He) drove in there thinking it was a parking lot, then realized it was not a little too late and got the vehicle stuck in the channel,” Delay told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

The vehicle damaged the manmade rock wall and some equipment that measures the flow of the spring, which park personnel are going to repair when the weather permits.

The hot spring channel doesn’t look like a parking lot to Delay, but the morning dark and the steam rising in the cold could have played tricks on the driver, he said.

He did not believe drugs or alcohol were involved.

There were citations, but Delay referred Cowboy State Daily to the Thermopolis Police Department to learn the scope of those.

Thermopolis Police Department Chief Pat Cornwell could not be reached immediately for comment Wednesday.

Delay declined Wednesday to release the driver’s name.

‘Hurts My Heart’

“Hurts my (heart),” one woman posted Tuesday to the Facebook group Thermopolis Our Home Town, along with a photograph of the channel. “The rock work for this canal is at least 57 yrs old and older.”

Delay told Cowboy State Daily that park personnel would get the rock work “as close to the original as possible.”

A group member posted the original photo of the stuck vehicle Sunday. It attracted 61 comments featuring varying degrees of condemnation and forgiveness.

“Please tell me the driver of that vehicle got a billion dollar fine,” commented one woman.

Another member countered: “They were not familiar with this area and thought it was a spot to turn around. Everyone will come up with their own conclusions about how they shouldn’t be there. It was an innocent mistake that will cost them quite a few dollars.”

Clair McFarland can be reached at

Share this article



Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter