For more than a hundred and fifty years, people have been bathing in the warm mineral waters of Hot Springs. Today, the town has a well-preserved historical district that includes many of its original red sandstone structures. In 1891, EvanÕs Plunge baths were developed - and theyÕre still operational today. The town is also home to a VeteransÕ residence and hospital, and an airport that can handle small jets. ThereÕs a great 4th of July parade, and the Christmas In The Hills festival of lights also includes a parade after dusk at the beginning of December.
About ten miles southeast of Hot Springs on Hwy 385/18, Angostura Reservoir is a water-loverÕs dream with lots of sandy beaches and shoreline, plus 4 campgrounds (169 campsites and 12 cabins). There are walleye, smallmouth bass, crappie, northern pike, largemouth bass, perch and bluegill in the lake. ThereÕs a privately-operated resort with marinas and rental lodges (800-364-8831), a convenience store and lots of boat ramps. Visitors can also rent kayaks/canoes, fishing rods and paddleboards. The daily fee for a vehicle is only $6 (2016), and campsites run less than $20. If you decide to stay in town and drive to the lake (itÕs just 15 minutes) to spend the day, be sure to check out ShepÕs Canyon. It offers great access to the boat ramp and excellent shore fishing opportunities.
13157 N Angostura Rd (605) 745-6996
This is a nonprofit organization designed to Òpromote public understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of the Black Hills natural and cultural heritageÓ. If youÕre looking for reading materials for your trip, visit the BHPFA website or stop by one of their fourteen physical bookstores that are located in Black Hills facilities run by the National Park Service, National Forest Service, National Grasslands, and South Dakota State Parks. When you shop BHPFA, the profits are used to print interpretive publications, fund internship positions, purchase educational supplies and equipment, serve as matching funds for grant requests, and provide assistance in research projects.
26611 Us Highway 385 (605) 745-7020
Hundreds of unadopted BLM wild horses run free at this non-profit which receives no state or federal funding. Two-hour guided bus tours are offered (see rates online).
12165 Highland Rd (605) 745-5955
Cascade Spring is the largest single spring in the Black Hills, and the source of Cascade Creek. This breathtakingly beautiful spot is located about seven miles south of Hot Springs, on Hwy 71. The Black Hills National Forest manages two picnic areas: the J.H. Keith Park and Cascade Falls Picnic Ground. There are several rare South Dakota plant species found only here, including tulip gentian, beaked spike-rush, southern maidenhair fern and stream orchid. The Forest Service wants you to know that: ÒCascade Falls and Springs both have gravel or concrete pathways and are just a few minutes walk from the parking areas. There is a stairway down a steep bank to Cascade Falls, where swimming is allowed. Swimming is not permitted in Cascade Springs. Be aware that poison ivy is abundant in some areas adjacent to Cascade Creek, and there is always the possibility of a prairie rattlesnake. Please stay on established trails.Ó
(307) 746-2782 - Forest Service, Newcastle WY.
This is one of those quiet little treasures that locals enjoy and tourists tend to miss. The Army Corps of Engineers administers this small reservoir about a mile north of Hot Springs. The dam was constructed for flood control, and the lake Òoffers an excellent variety of recreational activities year-round including canoeing, fishing, swimming, wildlife viewing, and camping. Winter activities include ice fishing, skating, and cross-country skiing.Ó Go north on Hwy 385, take a left on Badger Clark Road, right on Evans Street, left on Larive Lake Road and the first right (about 100 feet), which will take you around the lake to the beach. The CorpsÕ number is (605) 745-5476.
Another hidden gem, this one is located about five minutes west of Hot Springs on Hwy 18. It offers primitive camping only (no hookups), hiking, fishing (only electric motors), and picnicking. This is where you go to enjoy nature and leave the world behind. Follow Hwy 18 to County Rd 17 on your right. At the Y in the road take 17 to the left (not 17C to the right), and in about a quarter of a mile take another right. After a minute, check out the picnic area on your right, and then go back to the road and follow it to the beach.
This walk/run trail is approximately 2.3 miles long and begins behind the Mueller Center, which is at 801 South 6th St. It then follows the Fall River up to Kidney Springs Park, which has a natural spring emerging from the side of the hill, under a gazebo. There are benches along the Trail, and lots of little parks to wander through. Chatauqua Park has fallen rocks, picnic spots and a stone bridge over the river. Both South River Park and Brookside Park have playgrounds, picnic tables and swimming spots along the river. You can also cross the footbridges and do some downtown shopping or dining. ThereÕs an old train depot by Kidney Springs. (605) 745-3135
This is a renowned waterpark built around natural warm springs. The main pool completely recycles itself every hour and a half, and stays a consistent 87¡ F year round. The water is very gentle: it doesnÕt contain the harsh minerals often found in other springs. In addition to several water slides thereÕs a health club, two hot tubs, a sauna, steam room, lap swim, water exercise classes, spinning class, weight room, cardio room, boutique fitness classes, two kidÕs pools, volleyball, basketball, Tarzan rings, inflatable tubes and more. Daily rates (2016) are 2 and under, free; 3-15 years old $10.00; and 16 and older $14.00. There are Military, Senior and AAA discounts. The facility has been in business since 1890 and is the oldest tourism attraction in the Black Hills. ThereÕs food on site, as well as a gift shop.
1145 North River St (605) 745-5165
South DakotaÕs greatest fossil treasure, this was a spring-fed pond some 26,000 years ago that trapped a large number of Columbian and woolly mammoths (61 have been unearthed so far, along with a number of other animal species). The sinkhole was discovered in 1974, and is now enclosed in a large, climate-controlled building. The site, run by a nonprofit, is on the southwest side of town, north of Hwy 18 and beside the Super 8. The 2016, admission is 12 and over $11, age 4 to 12 $8, and under 3 free. ThereÕs a senior discount. Open in summer from 8 to 8: call for fall through spring curtailed hours. This is about a two-hour adventure, centered on a 30-minute guided tour. You can stroll through Òthe dig area at your own pace. Then, explore the many exhibits in the Ice Age Exhibit Hall and peek in the windows of a working paleontology laboratory. PlusÉview numerous short educational films on geology, Mammoth Site history, Hunting Mammoths with Dr. Larry Agenbroad, early North America and the people and animals that lived here during the Ice Ages, and museum laboratory proceduresÓ.
1800 US Hwy18 Truck Bypass (605) 745-6017
Housed in a magnificent 19th century sandstone school, the museum has some 25 exhibit areas and also features work by local artists and sculptors. ÒHandcrafted Tools, old washing machines, wood cook stoves, and kerosene lamps the pioneer farmers and ranchers used in their daily lives are displayed here. When you view the doctorÕs office youÕll almost smell the liniment! YouÕll stand in an authentic 19th century classroom and visit a country store complete with supplies!Ó From May 15 to October 1, the museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 to 5. Admission for adults is $6 (seniors $5), and under 12s are free. ThereÕs even a $15 family package.
300 N. Chicago Street (605) 745-5147
The husband and wife team of Bonnie Jo and Brad Exton present musical interpretive programs throughout the southern Hills during the summer. They describe their sound as cowboy, country and collectible tunes. Beautiful voices, very relaxing, and you can download samples and their schedule.
12601 Darlene Lane (605) 745-5015 or 440-1957
About twenty-five minutes west of Hot Springs is an adventure that soaks in the spirit of the Hills. In Edgemont, John and Janet Koller lead three-hour guided tours of ancient Native American petroglyphs and pictographs, cavalry campsites and incredible natural wonders. ÒPrehistoric and historic archaeology, native culture and ancient rock art of the earliest area inhabitants are featured at the Buffalo Cave archaeology site. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the petroglyphs carved here on rocky cliffs possibly date back as much as 8,000 years ago, and stone teepee rings mark the site of Native campsites.Ó Prices are $25 for adults and half that for 12 and under. Tours begin in downtown Edgemont at the City Park on the main street (Second Avenue) at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Visit the website first for guidelines on what to wear and pack. Not recommended for anyone with a physical disability, or health conditions that prevent them from negotiating vertical stairs. An absolute must-do if you want to get the ÔfeelÕ of these ancient Hills. Kids will be completely absorbed.
City park, Edgemont (605) 662-7332
This is a volunteer, non-profit, very good, community actorsÕ group that is Ôdedicated to presenting quality live, family-friendly theatreÕ. Performances are at the Mueller Civic Center on summer evenings, with some dinner theater performances at WoollyÕs Restaurant. Ticket prices vary.
Mueller Civic Center, 801 S 6th St (605) 745-4837
This is an 18-hole par 70, beautiful undulating course that nips in and out of the trees and has gorgeous mountain views. 2016 rates are $26 and $42 for nine and eighteen respectively. Cart rental is $10 and $16.
1130 Clubhouse Drive (605) 745-6400
The trout are always biting here! Everything is furnished and no license is needed. You pay only for what you catch. The hatchery raises more than a million trout each year for stocking in ponds and streams in Canada and the USA. ItÕs located nine miles north of Hot Springs, just off Hwy 385 and 79.
Highway 101 in Buffalo Gap (605) 833-2571
Spanish Mustang Conservancy
This is an organization dedicated to preserving the first horse breed that roamed the great plains. There are daily guided walking tours among the herd – itÕs a very hands on experience. The animals are quite beautiful, and riders of all ages will enjoy the visit. Adults $20, seniors $15, and children under 12 are $5. The Conservancy also offers a 2-hour session for children in basic horsemanship ($50). They will learn grooming, saddling and the basics of training/riding. Class size is extremely limited and by reservation only. The Conservancy is a non-profit.
404 Main St, Buffalo Gap (605) 833-2336
This company specializes in day-long adventures in the Black Hills, the Badlands region and the surrounding states. They follow traditional itineraries such as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer State Park, or offer unique and novel experiences such as sunset and stargazing tours of the Badlands, or dinosaur and fossil tours, mining history, wineries and art galleries, walking tours and other specialty tours.
24430 Nellie Lane (605) 923-8386
Situated on acres of prairie, pines and rolling hills, the ranch is located near the scenic and historic Red Canyon, where the Deadwood stage and General Custer and his troops once passed through. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced skills options.
26840 Iron Shoe Trail (605) 745-4866
This company offers day tours with ample wildlife viewing. The day tour begins in Hot Springs and takes visitors into Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park to view bison, antelope, deer, prairie dogs and other wild animals. Additional stops on this tour include Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Admission charges for all locations are included in the tour fee, but lunch is not included. A two-hour evening tour leaves Hot Springs at 7PM and takes in Wind Cave National Park and itÕs wildlife. Evening is the perfect time to see some of the parkÕs more elusive creatures, and on this tour adults are $20, 6-12 are $10 and children under 5 are free (limit 2).
309 Canton Ave (605) 891-8345
A mile northeast of downtown, this is a moderately strenuous 1.4 mile hike (or a short drive in a 4WD vehicle). The hill was the site of a 19th century battle between the Cheyenne and the Sioux for access to the warm springs below. From Highway 385 go two blocks east on Battle Mountain Avenue (beside Evans Plunge), and after the bend take a right on Thompson Avenue/Skyline, which goes to the summit. There are lots of antennae on top.
Battle Mountain Ave (605) 745-5445
The Fall River rises in this canyon, just outside town. ItÕs a nice hike to pick up the stream in one of the parks (Upper Chautauqua is the closest) and follow the winding water up the canyon to the source, which is about a mile and a half away.
West of Hot Springs on Highway 18 is Edgemont. It's about five or ten minutes east of the state line, and the town has a wonderful facility that lets visitors explore petroglyphs that pre-date settlement in the Black Hills by hundreds and even thousands of years. Here, one can "experience life from the time when Calamity Jane and Wild Bill rode the stage, and when the railroad decided here would be a great stopping place. Walk where Teddy Roosevelt walked. Trace the ebb and flow of life of the Southern Black Hills from pre-historic times to the present."
Located on Main Street at Mile Marker 0 of the Mickelson Trailhead, the museum is open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Hours: Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. It's also open by appointment.
603 Second Avenue, Edgemont, SD 57735
ÒBison, elk, and other wildlife roam the rolling prairie grasslands and forested hillsides of one of AmericaÕs oldest national parks. Below the remnant island of intact prairie sits Wind Cave, one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this maze of passages is home to box-work, a unique formation rarely found elsewhere.Ó Teddy Roosevelt signed the bill creating this, the eighth National Park, in 1903, and today it encompasses an impressive 33,851 acres.
There are no fees to drive through or hike in the park. The Garden of Eden cave tour is $10 for adults (2016), half price for children 6-16 and under 6 are free. Three other tours – Natural Entrance, Fairgrounds and Candlelight are a couple of dollars more, and the Wild Cave tour, which is four hours, runs $30.00 (minimum age is 17 and reservations are required). To get some idea of the treat waiting for visitors, click here. Wind Cave is a must-do on a Black Hills vacation.
26611 US Highway 385 (605) 745-4600
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