Written on August 24th, 2020
Hot Springs, located in a picturesque sandstone canyon at the southern edge of the Black Hills, staked its fortunes on the abundant natural mineral springs that coursed underground. Spas and sanitariums were among the area's first tourist attractions, and while the therapeutic waters are still a major draw, there is plenty more to see and do when visiting the Southern Gateway of the Black Hills!
Evans Plunge is the oldest tourist attraction in the Black Hills. Built in 1890, it was originally a popular retreat for people seeking to cure a variety of illnesses. It remains a popular destination to this day, drawing residents and visitors alike to its 87-degree thermal spring. Evans Plunge is home to the world's largest natural warm water swimming pool, offering adult and kids' pools, water slides, hot tubs, a sauna and steam room, concessions, and a gift shop. Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa, built that same year, provides a more upscale experience. Continuing the water theme, Angostura State Recreation Area, ten miles southeast of town, has 36 miles of shoreline and a variety of recreational activities include swimming, boating, wakeboarding, hiking, camping, disc golf, and some of the best fishing in the Black Hills.
No visit to Hot Springs is complete without a stop at The Mammoth Site. When excavation work on a housing project unearthed what would turn out to be the world's largest concentration of Columbian and woolly mammoth bones in 1974, work was halted and the area was preserved instead. Today, this working museum, laboratory, and research facility boasts an impressive array of exhibits and tours, and paleontologists continue to excavate the historic remains.
Wind Cave National Park, located nine miles north of Hot Springs, is a 28,000-acre wildlife preserve that is home to bison, elk, prairie dogs, and one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Black Hills Parks & Forests Association is the official partner of Wind Cave National Park, as well as Jewel Cave National Monument and the Black Hills National Forest. They carry a selection of books, toys, and games that help people of all ages develop an appreciation of the natural world; a portion of all in-store and online sales helps fund their partner agencies.
While you're visiting Hot Springs, don't overlook Black Hills Putt 4 Fun! This 18-hole miniature golf course offers challenging fun for both kids and adults, and its convenient location provides plenty of opportunity for exploring the rest of the area.