The Scariest Bridge Near Yellowstone Is Not for the Faint of Heart

Written by Mandy Trotti
Published: November 28, 2023
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The scariest bridge near Yellowstone is about two hours away in the beautiful Hot Springs State Park. This hidden gem in Wyoming is an unsettling swinging pedestrian bridge. But if you’re brave enough to cross it, you can enjoy a memorable view of the hot springs and the wildlife that calls the area home. Keep reading to learn more about the scariest bridge near Yellowstone and why it’s not for the faint of heart.

What Is the Scariest Bridge Near Yellowstone?

Swinging pedestrian bridge in Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Thermopolis is Greek for “hot city.”

©Melissa Kopka/iStock via Getty Images

The scariest bridge near Yellowstone is the Thermopolis Swinging Bridge. Thermopolis is in the Bighorn Basin of northwest Wyoming. Mountains surround the area, and the Bighorn River runs through the town. But the town’s claim to fame is having the “world’s largest mineral hot springs” and the swinging bridge that crosses it. You can find the bridge in Wyoming’s Hot Springs State Park, not to be confused with the Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.

The Stunning Views Around the Thermopolis Swinging Bridge

Hot springs mineral water flows through Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, Wyoming

Water from the mineral-rich hot springs flows through Hot Springs State Park.

©Melissa Kopka/iStock via Getty Images

Wyoming’s oldest state park is on the north edge of Thermopolis. In fact, the Hot Springs State Park became Wyoming’s first state park in 1897. Since then, it has become a popular destination for tourists seeking the healing properties of the 128-degree Fahrenheit water. Over 18,000 gallons of water flow over the colorful, rainbow mineral terrace surrounding the Bighorn River each day. The park features a free-to-use bathhouse with 104-degree Fahrenheit water and accessible hiking trails.

The scariest bridge near Yellowstone, also known simply as “The Swinging Bridge,” is a unique structure that provides a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape. On a windy day, the bridge railing squeaks. And don’t look down if you’re afraid of falling in the water. Below, the Bighorn River roars through the rock outcroppings. But the view of the Wyoming landscape from the middle of the Thermopolis Swinging Bridge is unbeatable.

History of the Thermopolis Swinging Bridge

Iconic swinging bridge in Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis Wyoming

The scariest bridge near Yellowstone takes after the famous Golden Gate Bridge.

©Melissa Kopka/iStock via Getty Images

The Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources erected the original Thermopolis Swinging in Bridge in 1916. The structure connected the Big Spring with the Fremont Spring to the Pleasant View Hotel and the Elk Pasture. Until it was constructed, ranchers had to cross a dangerous swinging bridge that dangled from a cable less than an inch thick.

Before the official structure’s completion, locals took matters into their own hands. One day, a rancher’s tractor broke down and couldn’t make it across. The rancher hired a local mechanic to fix the tractor, but he took it upon himself to build a sturdier bridge since the setup wasn’t practical. The new 8-foot suspension bridge was wider and could hold about three tons. It was fashioned with repurposed steel to resemble the Golden Gate Bridge. His model inspired the need for a stable and permanent bridge.

The original Thermopolis Swinging Bridge was demolished in 1991 by the Wyoming National Guard but was quickly restored the following year by the North Dakota National Guard. The Thermopolis Swinging Bridge most people know today is located south of the original structure.

Wildlife Surrounding the Scariest Bridge Near Yellowstone

Buffalo roaming on the red dirt prairie in Thermopolis Wyoming

Buffalo roam the prairie in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

©Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock.com

The Hot Springs State Park is home to a bison herd, which is the central herd for the Wyoming State Parks. Visitors can watch the park rangers feed the bison, sometimes called the “Monarch of the Plains,” in the morning during the late fall and early winter months.

Visitors can also walk on the Wind River Canyon Scenic Byway to see stunning rock formations and bighorn sheep. Buffaloes are also common park residents, grazing in pastures near the bison and wild burro herds. You can also expect to see deer, antelope, coyotes, foxes, and badgers.

When they hear the name, many people think of the famous stretch of the Bighorn River near Fort Smith, Montana. But the Bighorn River starts in Wyoming, about 100 miles outside Thermopolis. Beneath the scariest bridge near Yellowstone is a favored fishing spot. The most popular fish swimming in its water are rainbow and brown trout, but you can also find the occasional cutthroat trout.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rita Robinson/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Mandy Trotti is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs and travel. Mandy has been writing professionally for over two years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from the University of South Florida, which she earned in 2022. A resident of Florida, Mandy enjoys going on walks with her beagle, visiting botanical gardens, and watching the sunset on the beach.

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