At a comfortable 64°, Hot Springs has the highest average temperature in South Dakota. It’s ideal weather for taking a stroll on our Freedom Trail along the banks of Fall River. Feel free to browse in a quaint shop, shade yourself in the cool shadows of a ponderosa pine or one of the countless century-old sandstone structures that grace our streets. At the end of your walk along River Street, you’ll find yourself at the Evans Plunge, world’s largest natural warm water indoor pool. Evans Plunge was built in 1890 over the numerous small, sparkling springs and one mammoth spring of mineral water. Originally, Evans Plunge and the other mineral baths in Hot Springs were sought as a cure-all for a multitude of illnesses. Today the Plunge features indoor, outdoor and kiddie pools, 3 water slides, action rings, health club, steam room, hot tubs, sauna, snack bar and gift shop. Right around the corner you’ll find Chautauqua Park, where you can picnic beneath beautiful red rock cliffs along the river.
Be sure to visit the world famous Mammoth Site and take a guided tour and see actual bones of over 50 mammoth elephants, enjoy the hands-on exhibits and pick up some souvenirs in the extensive gift shop. If you visit during July, you’re likely to have the opportunity to watch an excavation in progress.
Southern Hills Golf Course is set within the pine covered mountains just west of Hot Springs. The National Golf Foundation chose it as one of the best in America’s heartland. Golf Digest has awarded the course a 4-star rating and selected it as one of its recommended places to play. The South Dakota Golf Association has designated Southern Hills as the top 18-hole course in South Dakota.
With plenty of room for boating, fishing and swimming, Angostura Reservoir Recreation Area attracts visitors to its clear waters and natural sand beaches. The dam was built in 1949 by the Bureau of Reclamation across the Cheyenne River for irrigation purposes, but paved the way for recreation.
Cottonwood Dam is located 3.5 miles west of Hot Springs on Cottonwood Springs Creek. It’s an excellent place to fish, swim or hike, and offers a large picnic area and playground for children. Swim, picnic, fish and relax at Cold Brook Dam. Surrounded by red canyon walls, the clean, clear water beckons, or test your skill at the Fall River Archers’ archery range located nearby.
Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary is located on 11,000 privately owned acres. Long revered as sacred by the Lakota, the Cheyenne River flows in all four cardinal directions. BHWHS supports over 400 wild horses that run free across endless prairie, located just minutes from Hot Springs. Cascade Springs and Cascade Falls are just 10 minutes from Hot Springs. You’ll enjoy the gorgeous view, a refreshing dip in the warm spring water, and a stop at nearby Keith Park for a picnic under the gazebo.
Wind Cave National Park, located only minutes from Hot Springs, has much to offer visitors. Above ground you’ll find rolling prairie, interesting rock formations, and beautiful pine forests open to exploration. The park is also home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs. The 70-mile labyrinth of passageways in Wind Cave make it the 10th largest cave in the world. The cave has some spectacularly large rooms and is a favorite with children. The main features of the cave are the winds gushing in or out depending on the barometric pressure and the rare boxwork formations. Only two caves in the world are known to have them. The park itself, just to the south of Custer State Park, is home to a good sized buffalo herd and much wildlife. The area above ground is scenic and a favorite with hikers.
The Wildlife Loop Road offers the traveler a wide variety of experiences. There are open grasslands and rolling hills speckled with pine. Many of the park’s wildlife species occupy this area and are commonly seen. They include buffalo, bighorn sheep, antelope, deer, elk, coyote, prairie dog, and numerous birds. Also, some of the park’s wild “begging” burros live at the southernmost end of this road. The park is home to one of the worlds largest buffalo herds.
111 miles in length, the George S. Mickelson Trail is the longest trail in the Black Hills. On foot or by bike, you’ll experience old growth forests, sunny meadows dotted with wildflowers, towering granite crags and remote canyons. With luck you’ll see turkeys, deer, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bison.