Like many states in the American Midwest, South Dakota is a popular tourist destination thanks to its myriad outdoor landmarks and natural beauty.
Along with rolling prairies, majestic lakes, sweeping pine forests, and granite mountain peaks, South Dakota is also home to an internationally recognized man-made wonder, The Mount Rushmore National Monument.
From intrepid hiking trails to excursions into national and state parks, there are many ways to explore South Dakota’s idyllic natural attractions. One of The Mount Rushmore State’s most popular destinations is the small spring community of Hot Springs, which boasts the only naturally occurring hot spring in the region.
Offering a soothing retreat perfect for finding bliss after more intrepid adventures throughout the state, Hot Springs is home to several facilities and businesses boasting unique soaking experiences.
From maintained thermal baths to cold water spring alternatives, this is everything you need to know about hot springs in South Dakota to best enjoy the region’s natural mineral waters.
Types of Hot Springs in South Dakota
While only one hot spring presides in South Dakota, The Mount Rushmore State features plenty of natural mineral springs scattered throughout its idyllic countryside, including warm spring and cold-water spring alternatives. These are the three types of thermal springs you can expect to find in the state.
Developed Hot Springs
Located south of Black Hills National Forest, the town of Hot Springs is home to the only natural hot springs in South Dakota. It has garnered this distinction as the only location in the state where a spring’s water temperatures average above 95 degrees Fahrenheit naturally.
While there are several ways to enjoy the warm, healing waters of the underground spring, the most natural setting is along the shore of Fall River, which cuts through the heart of the town. However, as the sole natural occurrence of the phenomenon in the state, this site can often become crowded with families and spring goers.
Alternatively, for enhanced relaxation, visitors can opt to visit one of the many developed bathhouses, spa centers, and private accesses that service the springs throughout the community. Offering a quiet escape, these expanded facilities offer blissful retreats and often accompany additional amenities, including spa services and onsite accommodation.
- Evans Plunge Mineral Springs
- Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa
- Stroppel Hotel & Mineral Baths
While South Dakota only has a singular hot spring destination, it does boast at least one other thermal spring within its borders. However, while still naturally warm throughout the year, this second site does not reach the 95-degree Fahrenheit threshold required to be designated a hot spring.
Nevertheless, South Dakota’s warm spring destination is a fantastic alternative thermal pool for visitors seeking a mineral-rich soaking experience in a primitive pool and a more natural setting. With no development in the area, the state’s warm spring provides spring goers with a tranquil ambiance and the opportunity to explore South Dakota’s flora and fauna.
- Cascade Falls
Like the state’s warm spring option, South Dakota’s cold springs are another excellent alternative for visitors seeking a rustic mineral pool experience. While these pools are much more widespread across the state, they are also subject to seasonal temperatures and are typically only accessible during the warm summer.
Still, thanks to their isolated settings and widespread availability, these primitive cold springs are fantastic for spring goers visiting in the summer or those unable to make it to Hot Springs in the southeastern corner of the state. Additionally, many of the most idyllic of these cold springs are located along popular hiking trails, providing a cooling refreshment along extended treks.
- Spring Creek Recreation Area
South Dakota Hot Springs
Evans Plunge Mineral Springs
First established in 1890, Evans Plunge Mineral Springs is the oldest developed hot spring attraction in South Dakota and were a popular thermal pool with indigenous Lakota and Cheyenne people that resided in the area long before the site’s discovery by European explorers.
While the same spring frequented by these ancient peoples can still be visited today, the site is now serviced by an extensive wellness center with modern amenities, including snack bars, maintained pools, and several water slides of varying sizes.
Further additions that enhance the destination’s tranquility include onsite sauna and steam rooms, weight rooms, spin rooms, several indoor and outdoor pools, and hot tubs.
Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa
Another fantastic hot spring complex established in 1890 and operating out of Hot Springs, the Moccasin Spring Natural Mineral Spa has been a famous center of healing and rejuvenation for over a century.
This hot spring resort is a favorite amongst locals and tourists and features four unique ways to experience the natural mineral waters. The complex’s bathhouse, pool house, and hot pools all feature modern amenities and provide sublime comforts for enjoying the water’s soothing properties.
However, perhaps the most historically engaging way to enjoy the thermal spring is by taking a dip in the authentic original pool, which first opened in 1913. Here, spring goers will enjoy the traditional rustic ambiance as they relax in the same water enjoyed by early spa visitors.
As a full-service complex, the Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa features additional amenities, including onsite dining restaurants, accommodation options, massage, and spa treatments, yoga classes, and even extensive event and retreat venues.
Stroppel Hotel & Mineral Baths
The only hot spring complex in South Dakota found outside of Hot Springs, the Stroppel Hotel & Mineral Baths operates out of Midland near the state’s center. The springs themselves were discovered in 1939 by John Stroppel, who had to dig 1,790 feet to uncover them.
Today the water is excavated from its source and provided to visitors in two distinct bath options. When extracted, the waters feature temperatures of 119 degrees Fahrenheit directly from their source. However, the two pools are cooled to a more bearable 110 and 107 degrees for a comfortable soak.
The hotel features several soaking options, including day visits and spa treatments. However, the best way to experience the sight is by booking an overnight stay, including a two-day, seven-day, and even a 21-day wellness retreat.
Warm and Cold-Water Springs in South Dakota
While only a hot spring, the Cascade Falls location 8 miles south of Hot Springs is the only other natural thermal pool in South Dakota. Featuring waters that average 67 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, Cascade Falls has garnered the nickname “the Old Swimming Hole” and is a popular destination for locals and tourists.
Like its hot spring counterpart to the north, the Cascade Falls warm springs were the site of a settlement after its founding in the 1880s. However, attempts to convert the site to a full-service spa failed, and the warm springs today maintain their rustic natural setting.
Located within a pristine corner along a fork in Cascade Creek, the spring offers several opportunities to explore the region. However, only the Cascade Falls swimming hole is considered safe to submerge in, and visitors should not try to swim elsewhere along the creek.
Spring Creek Recreation Area
While several cold-water springs can be uncovered throughout South Dakota, the Spring Creek Recreation Area is the most popular and features plenty of outdoor adventures and onsite amenities.
At the center of this beautiful preservation is Lake Oahe, a renowned attraction first visited by the Lewis and Clark expedition and boasting several activities both on the water and its shores today.
Along with offering onsite lodging and camping, this recreation area is a popular destination for boating, fishing, paddle boarding, birdwatching, and biking.