Do What the Locals Do!
This page highlights some of our favorite things to do in and around the area. Our family settled in the Saratoga valley generations ago. Our great-grandfather had a long resume including being a range marshal, lumberjack, owned a saloon and commercially bottled the famous mineral springs water. For a short time, he owned the local newspaper, The Saratoga Sun, after winning the business during a high stakes poker game. Our grandfather was the town Pharmacist and owned Donelan Drug store where locals enjoyed treats from the old time soda fountain. He also had a love for aviation, and helped build and establish the town’s airport; he monitored the aviation radio from the Donelan Drug Store and was known to deliver milk shakes from the Donelan Drug soda fountain to aviators stopping over. Our grandmother and great aunt loved the outdoors and were hunting and fishing guides for visitors from around the world; their customers returned year after year to some of the best hunting and fishing in the world! Some of my fondest childhood memories include my grandmother whipping up a fried chicken lunch then packing us in the old Jeep and heading to the mountains for a day of creek fishing. Our parents, Jerry and Janet, expanded Deer Haven RV Park and operated it for nearly 50 years. Growing up, they taught us the value of hard work as we were the “work crew”. Growing up in Saratoga, we explored all it has to offer and share with you you some of our favorite things to do.
Mineral Hot Springs, known by the locals as the “Hot Pool” or “Hobo Pool”. Take a dip in the hot pool, and if you dare, the hottest pool. Locals enjoy year-round, especially in the middle of winter when many arrive in bathrobes and slippers! Prehistoric volcanic activity left the town with this beautiful mineral hot springs pool, free and open 24 hours a day, year round. Directions to the Hot Pool
Enjoy a beautiful drive across the Snowy Range Scenic Byway to the top of the Medicine Bow Peak. Pack a picnic, hiking boots, and don’t forget your camera! A breathtaking 40 minute drive from Deer Haven RV park will take you to the top of the Medicine Bow Peak where you can enjoy vistas from 12,000 feet! The hike to the top is breathtaking, but challenging! Enjoy a picnic, hiking, fishing or just a nice scenic drive! Continue down the mountain to Centennial and the famous Old Corral for an evening of great food and live music. Our great Uncle John helped to build the original road that is now the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, Hwy. 130. Family stories told us that while working on the road he broke his leg and had to crawl miles for help. Directions to Medicine Bow Peak and Medicine-Bow-Peak-Guide.pdf will help you navigate and find hiking trails to the top, if you dare! (insider tip: stop by the Ranger Station for great information including Medicine Bow National Forest road/ATV maps, hiking/biking trails and fishing lakes – and it’s all free!)
Blue Ribbon trout fishing is right outside your door! Our dad loved to fish and spent many evenings casting a line in the North Platte. Deer Haven RV Park offers private river access reserved for you, our guest. Or let local outfitters guide you down the river for a beautiful trout fishing adventure! Also a must see – the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery. Established in 1911, it has served as an egg-producing station during most of its years of operation. Between 1915 and 1984, various strains of brook, rainbow, brown, golden, and cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden eggs were produced. In 1966, Saratoga National Fish Hatchery was formally designated as a broodstock hatchery, and in 1984, the hatchery became involved in the Great Lakes lake trout recovery program. Open daily 8 am – 4 pm. Directions to Saratoga Fish Hatchery
A beautiful drive, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning, and off the beaten path is the Battle Mountain Scenic Byway. An hour and a half from Deer Haven RV Park, pack your lunch and enjoy this beautiful day trip – just like the locals. Enjoy “Aspen Alley” along the route, especially pretty when the leaves change in fall (late September-early October).
The Wyoming Frontier Prison in Rawlins is a short 40 minute drive from Deer Haven RV Park. The eighty year history of Wyoming’s first state penitentiary, now known as the Wyoming Frontier Prison, is as colorful and elaborate as the plot of a classic western movie. The cornerstone of the prison was laid in 1888, but due to funding issues and Wyoming’s notorious weather, the doors wouldn’t open for thirteen years. In December of 1901, the prison opened and consisted of 104 cells (Cell Block A), no electricity or running water, and very inadequate heating. The prison is said to be haunted by Big Nose George; Watch Travel Channel’s ghostly episode for a preview of what you might find when you visit! The Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and Zak Bagan also ventured to the prison; watch his ghostly investigation! Here are Directions to the Wyoming Frontier Prison
Enjoy a short 5-10 minute walk to downtown Saratoga and enjoy quaint shops and fine restaurants. One of my favorite restaurants is the historic Hotel Wolf and Saloon, famous for it’s steaks and nightlife. My great-grandfather can be seen in one of the old pictures in the saloon – look for the man with a halo around his head. Walk across the street for a nightcap at the Rustic Bar, a long time hang out for Saratoga residents. Or enjoy a round of golf at the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort followed by a nice dinner at Bellas Bistro or Malt by Firewater. My favorite shopping destination is Laura M’s which features some of the best local artists and offers a variety of artwork, jewelry (including some of my custom jewelry!), clothing and other souvenirs.
Other local favorites include the Woodchoppers Jamboree in nearby Encampment in June (Father’s Day weekend), where loggers compete in chainsaw contests, hatchet-throwing and other events leading to the crowning of the Rocky Mountain Champion Lumberjack. The Grand Encampment Opera House, now more than a century old, still hosts melodramas as part of the Jamboree.
July’s Platte River Rodeo brings cowboys and their fans to Saratoga to see bareback riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and, of course, clowns. The Saratoga Bullfest, a bull-riders extravaganza, takes place in August at the Buck Springs Arena rodeo grounds and is worth the price of admission!
Enjoy Saratoga’s annual July 4th parade – an authentic home town celebration – and attend the Steinley Cup Microbrew Festival each August that crowns the state’s official Microbrew Champion.
At the Saratoga Museum, housed in the 1915 Union Pacific Railroad depot, see an original one-room cabin built by a Platte Valley pioneer, a blacksmith collection and an original Union Pacific caboose. Rock hounds will love perusing one of the state’s largest mineral displays, including an exhibit featuring hundreds of specimens of Wyoming jade.
Deer Haven RV Park is a short 20 minute drive to the Medicine Bow National Forest, so one of our all time favorite things to do is head to the mountains. We spent our summers hiking the numerous national forest trails and fishing for Brookie Trout. If biking or off-roading /ATV is your thing, there are lots of beautiful trails. Here’s a link to hiking and off-road trails that will help you navigate through the forest on foot, bike or ATV. (insider tip: the Ranger Station offers great (free) information including Medicine Bow National Forest road maps, hiking trails and fishing lakes!). Be sure to bring your camera and pack a lunch — you won’t be disappointed!
Check out the Saratoga/Platte Valley Chamber of Commerce’s calendar of events for these and other local happenings!