The - Hot Spring Hero - not a nickname that many folks get dubbed. But Paige Byron Curry is in fact the Hot Spring Hero and very much deserving of the nickname.
A Jackson Hole native, Curry has countless memories from the original Astoria Hot Springs - where she learned to swim, attended swim team practice, celebrated birthday parties and spent a significant portion of her childhood. Originally open to the public in 1961, the park was a staple in the community for the 37 years before it was shut down after new owners purchased the property.
Fast forward 22 years later - I had the honor of getting a full tour of the newly revived and renovated Astoria Hot Spring Park from Curry. Her passion and excitement for the new park is tangible. Our tour started at a small cabin overlooking the Snake River called the Johnny Counts Cabin, named for a gold prospector who made Astoria his long-term home in the early 1900s. We walked into the cabin, and Curry shared that this space would be used for community events, family events, and programs. She painted a picture of memories of a birthday party from the former Astoria. She giggled in nostalgia as if for a moment she was transported back to a hot summer day as a squealing 10-year-old, having just come in from the pools long enough to woof down a cupcake.
When the original park was closed, it was devastating news to the community. For years, the community wanted to find a way to bring back the hot springs. During Curry’s time at The Trust for Public Land as the Director of the Campaign for Astoria Hot Springs and Park, she led community efforts to bring the hot springs back as part of a larger park. In 2018, with a background in fundraising and education and a passion for her hometown community, Curry was well-equipped as she stepped into the role to take the lead of Astoria Park Conservancy, a new local non-profit created to steward the property and create the larger park.
Historic Photo courtesy of the Gill Family
The 6M campaign supported the purchase and protection of the 100-acre property, and the development of the hot springs. Future fundraising efforts will create the larger park. Over the last five years, she visited some 40 hot springs around the country for market research. She made note of interesting features, community programs, and ideas for operations. Walking through the park with Curry, her attention to detail specifically around infrastructure and environmentally-friendly features, was obvious.
The park as a whole has been renovated in a way that strategically offers something for everyone, all the while working with the land and the natural habitat to create as minimal impact as possible. With 5 different pools, each ranging in temperature and offering a variety of features, the park has already become a highlight among the list of cool outdoor attractions for both visitors and locals alike. Future plans for the surrounding park and Park include more gathering spaces, community green space and designated hiking trails, and a nature playground, to name a few.
Curry has worked tirelessly to make sure all aspects of the current operations follow strict Covid-19 protocols to keep all visitors and employees safe. The park is open to both locals and visitors at this time with limited capacity. Reservations must be made online prior to arrival. For numerous reasons, Curry remains the Hot Springs Hero.
For more information, including the history, hot spring facts and future plans for the park, visit https://astoriapark.org/.
This story is a part of our #humansofjhchamber campaign, which focuses on the faces of our local businesses and nonprofits. Learn about their inspirations, why started in their industry and more! Find the Chamber on Instagram at @jhchamber. For information about the program, please contact Communications Manager, Andi Gollwitzer, email@example.com.