a few words about us
The Big Horn Basin Nature & Discovery Center Joint Powers Board (JPB) is a joint powers board between Hot Springs County and the Town of Thermopolis, and was formed at the direction of Wyoming State Legislators. Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation acts as fiscal agent for the JPB.
Hot Springs Greater Learning Foundation (GLF) has completed Phase 1: the planning phase of the Big Horn Basin Nature & Discovery Center. JPB has taken the lead role in the development of the Children’s Outdoor Learning Area, Phase 2 of the development of the Big Horn Basin Nature & Discovery Center. The Children’s Outdoor Learning Area; Phase 2, Steps 1 & 2 will be completed by September 2021.
JPB plans to build a Big Horn Basin Nature and Discovery Center (NDC) on leased land located in a vacant lot at the north entrance to Thermopolis, Wyoming and main entrance to Hot Springs State Park. The Center will act as a regional hub of art, nature and science. It will showcase our area’s geology, culture and heritage, folk arts and history as well as Hot Springs State Park Interpretation Center, a folk school for traditional arts, and the Nature & Discovery Center.
The Children’s Outdoor Learning Area (Phase 2) serves as a beginning (but stand-alone) project that is part of the long-range Nature and Discovery Center project. It will incorporate art as an integral and joyful part of children’s daily learning.
The Children’s Outdoor Learning Area (COLA) is based on the changing seasons, and will have the ability, within the outdoor classroom, to accommodate students and groups learning about science, natural resources and folk art. The area will act as a gathering point for activities related to education, art, and placemaking – not just to those who live here but to the world at large. It will showcase; who we are, what we do, and where we live.
It will be a hybrid product being part park, museum and cultural center while being open 24 hours a day and free for all to enjoy. A walking trail with educational points of interest will connect the wonder of nature and science to a highly fun and enjoyable environment that will stimulate all ages with lasting benefits. Nature allows a child to engage all of his or her senses, including physical movement. The hands-on approach will teach about our unique geothermal resource and will include a water feature telling the story of mineralization, sediment settlement and water flow. By teaching children to play and create in nature, we are encouraging the next generation of environmental stewards.
COLA is designed to be part of the current trend in education and communities, to develop outdoor facilities where children and adults will be comfortable and learn to appreciate their environment and their creativity. Outdoor activities are known to improve children’s learning in the classroom, to improve their physical and mental health, and to help them grow and develop their personal confidence as well as their respect for nature. Being outdoors has also been shown to improve and sustain the health of seniors.
Hot Springs State Park centers around the mineral water hot springs with unusual geological formations. The Big Horn River flows through the park to rainbow terraces formed by hot mineral water. A system of trails links parts of the ten-acre park to pools, the Big Spring, historic swinging bridge, boardwalks, Roundtop mountain with historic etchings, and a buffalo pasture. This trail system will continue through the NDC property to connect with newly developed trails on the west side of Hot Springs State Park.
The Big Horn Basin Nature and Discovery Center leased property sits along Highway 20 North at the entrance to Hot Springs State Park. The space started as a vacant lot which has highway access and utilities. The property is large enough to connect the community with walking/hiking and biking trails; exercise areas; open spaces; and reclamation of native plant life.