Much akin to a trip back in time, our stay at the Saratoga Inn Resort and Hot Springs in Saratoga, Wyoming was miles from modern. A short drive from Laramie, Wyoming, this sleepy little town lies hidden away from the traffic and congestion that plagues the rest of the world. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to do. And that happens to be the charm of the place. Saratoga is a quiet retreat where relaxation comes first and foremost. We ventured here for promise of soothing hot springs and fell in love with the old-fashioned simplicity.
As the dirt road into town bids farewell to Interstate 80 and cuts straight as an arrow across the plains, the Snowy Range carves a dramatic silhouette across the sky. Herds of antelope gallop across the open prairie, as giant vultures circle high above, waiting patiently for the inevitable. A hawk as big as a dining room chair swoops low across the dusty road, landing tip top a telephone pole, the only available resting point for miles. Surely there are small animals scurrying in the underbrush, committed to hiding from the larger creatures who hunt them. It’s an unfamiliar, but strangely comforting, feeling to be surrounded by more wild animals than people.
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After a drive just long enough to assure you that you’re leaving the world as you know it behind, Saratoga comes into view. Four large mule deer are the first to extend a welcome, as they trot across the street just in front of the car. Through town, more deer hurry to greet us and it becomes apparent they’re as much a part of the population here as the people themselves. Passing small businesses and modest dwellings, we come to the center of town where we’ve been told to take a left, then a right to the can’t-miss-it inn.
As we pull into the inn, though, we remark on how we easily could have missed it. Humble and quaint, the one-story, log-cabin inn offers entry with an expansive front porch that quietly guards the wonders within. Blending in amongst pine trees, the Saratoga Inn and Hot Springs is part of the landscape; a warm, welcoming shelter for road-weary travelers.
Like spending the night at grandma’s house, stepping foot into the inn felt like home. A roaring fire crackled in the lobby, while a sweet older woman fetched us the key to our room and offered two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to enjoy “with milk just before bed”. Our cozy room was filled with the sweet scent of cedar, with low ceilings and a lodge pole bed adorned with a cloud-soft feather bed. She laid two terry-cloth robes upon the bed for use in the pools and bid us goodnight.
After settling in we eagerly prepared for the reason we came. Right on the grounds, surrounded by the guestrooms, are a number of rejuvenating natural hot springs. It was a bone-chilling night and the trip across the cold stones was only made possible by the promise of warmth ahead. White lights cast a spell about the pools as steam slowly rose from the water. Opting for the large swimming pool first, a dip of one toe proved the water too lukewarm to counter the frigid air. It was on to the hottest bath, where the steaming water enveloped us in welcome heat and relaxing comfort. Said to be naturally therapeutic, the hot springs are rich in minerals but didn’t carry the strong sulfur smell some springs tend to. Naturally warmed by pure spring water from deep below the earth’s surface, we were happy to lean back and gaze up at the clear night with its dazzling moon and star display. Deer grazed just beyond the pools, content to be near the water, and happy to make friends.
When we eventually left Saratoga, a piece of me remained out there in the hot springs, upon the heavenly bed, and next to the roaring fire. At home, as I lay awake before sleeping, worried about the next day’s schedule and the chaos that will undoubtedly ensue, my mind wanders back to the inn and I can imagine myself at peace. Nothing to do, nowhere to be; just the moon, two chocolate chip cookies and the most refreshing bath I’ve ever taken.