If you’re in search of the best hot springs in South Dakota, they aren’t too hard to track down. The town of Hot Springs didn’t get its name for nothing! Not only will you find incredible natural springs in this all-American town, but you’ll be close to outdoor adventure, a world-class museum, relaxing spas, exciting water slides, and so much more.
As the name suggests, there is an abundance of warm, natural, mineral spring water in Hot Springs. Some are more developed than others or have more amenities for children to enjoy.
Most recently built, Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa is a cozy, rustic dream no matter the season. There are multiple outdoor pools that range from 88 to over 102 degrees Fahrenheit (31-39 Celsius). Indoors, they offer a pool house with a fireplace to stay warm when you’re out of the water, an on-site restaurant, yoga classes, a sauna, massages, and more. Moccasin Springs also offers accommodations for people to stay for a few nights and enjoy many warm soaks and the whole experience for days.
While many of today’s hot springs have developed into spas or bath houses, there are still undeveloped natural springs in South Dakota. About 15 minutes south of town, there are warm springs that feed into Cascade Creek. A few miles downstream is a popular swimming hole called Cascade Falls, which stays at an average temperature of 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19 Celsius). The water doesn’t move very fast here, and this is is the only recommended spot to swim in the creek, making it an ideal spot for families. Though it looks like a perfect fairytale, visitors must watch out for poison ivy and rattlesnakes.
For the kids
Evan’s Plunge Mineral Springs was established in 1890 and is a huge wellness center with everything from a sauna and steam room to water volleyball and a jet slide. This facility is great for families who are looking for the whole package. There are pools indoors and outdoors, workout rooms with equipment, multiple slides, swing rings, food, and more. The water is kept at an average of 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius), and there are also two hot tubs kept at warmer temperatures.
One of the best parts about the town of Hot Springs is that the Fall River, which is fed by thermal warm springs, runs directly through the entire length of town. The mile-long paved Freedom Trail runs alongside the river and connects two city parks: Centennial Park and Brookside Park. Exploring the warmer, deeper spots in the river is a favorite pastime of locals. Fall River is great for kids because it’s shallow in many sections.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
The Parks: Wind Cave National Park & Custer State Park
Just north of Hot Springs is Wind Cave National Park, where visitors can experience extraordinary landscapes above and below ground. Above ground, bison, elk, and other wildlife roam the grasslands of the Black Hills. Below ground, park service rangers offer tours of one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Tours are required to see the cave and are offered 362 days of the year.Just north of Wind Caves is Custer State Park. Granite cliffs shoot out of the water in the five lakes in this park. Custer State Park is great for swimming, boating, biking, camping, and paddling.
Closer to Town: Angostura State Recreation Area & Golfing
Lucky for the people—and guests—of Hot Springs, there is no shortage of water around the town. To the south is Angostura State Recreation Area, a reservoir established in the 1950s. The water is clear, the beaches are sandy, and the views are expansive. This is a great local spot for water sports, camping, and fishing.If you like to golf, you don’t want to miss Southern Hills Golf Course, rated by Golf Week as the #1 Golf Resort in South Dakota.
Just another incredible fact about Hot Springs, South Dakota: It’s home to the world’s largest mammoth research center, The Mammoth Site. Tour this indoor active dig site view Ice Age fossils of woolly mammoths.
Construction in Hot Springs began in the late 1890s, and the town was built to be a destination, so it sure looks like one. The historic downtown area was constructed from locally quarried sandstone and many of buildings have not since been changed. The town was named a ‘Distinctive Destination’ by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is worth walking through to learn more about the unique architecture. While this quaint town does have some of the best hot springs in South Dakota, it’s easy to tell that there is more to do in Hot Springs than just soak in the natural waters. If you plan on stopping here on the classic Black Hills route to Yellowstone, check out our itinerary here.