Hot Springs’ Best & Most Underrated City Parks

chautauqua

Every great town or city has a city park. Some are larger with full on outdoor sports facilities, some are smaller with little playgrounds, and some are just plots of land a municipality doesn’t know what else to do with. Lucky for us here in Hot Springs, we have a ton of amazing city parks; the disappointing part? A lot of people who visit Hot Springs, even regularly from around the Black Hills, don’t even know they exist, which is a shame, because they’re beautiful! Join us as we count down Hot Springs’ city parks!

CENTENNIAL PARK
Located Across from City Hall, North River Street

Centennial Park is the celebrated town center. Every June, the Main Street Arts & Crafts Festival brings hundreds of people to downtown Hot Springs with dozens of vendors, music, and more. Other events held here in the past have included Honoring Our Heroes, in honor of our veterans, and the Fall Festival.

Lying prominently along the Fall River Freedom Trail walking path, Centennial Park is probably the most visited park in Hot Springs by virtue of being smack in the middle of downtown, allowing access to the waterfall for photo ops, Kidney Springs for a drink of the natural warm mineral spring water, to the downtown shops & restaurants, and to a historic mural nearby on the American Legion building.

centennial

BROOKSIDE PARK
Located on South River Street

We’ve talked before about people asking “where can we access the warm spring water?” If you ask a local, you’re probably going to get one of two answers: Evans Plunge or Brookside Park. Much like Centennial Park, Brookside lies quietly along the Fall River Freedom Trail but is tucked quietly away behind the nearby Brookside Apartments. This makes it an uncommon visit for anyone but the locals, who love this “hidden” swimming hole. Hot Springs’ famous ducks are a common sight here and across the river, deer are not uncommon in the mornings or evenings.

Families often picnic here the old-fashioned way – on a blanket while the kids swim in the deeper and shallower spots of Fall River. There are a couple picnic tables and a small playground but everyone really comes for the water. The busiest time of the year for Brookside is the Independence Day FireQuacker Duck Race, put on by the Chamber of Commerce, in which hundreds of little rubber duckies float down the river and people flock (no pun intended) to the finish line near Brookside Park to see whose duck comes in first.

brookside

CHAUTAUQUA PARK
2 Mins. North of Evans Plunge on Hot Brook Canyon Road

Scenic Chautauqua Park, so named for the old-time adult education seminar programs, known as Chautauquas, that used to be hosted here in the early 20th century, offers two playground areas and both covered and uncovered picnic areas, as well as access to Fall River’s warm waters. A beautifully crafted stone bridge crosses the river, allowing you to dip your feet in the water and the red rock canyon walls contrast with the natural landscape below.

Numerous weddings, birthday parties, reunions and more take place here every year and it’s no surprise once you’ve visited – but the real surprise is that most people haven’t! Chautauqua Park is serene, romantic and stunning and we’re proud to be home to it.

Campgrounds

SCHOOL STREET PARK
Corner of School Street and Cold Brook Avenue

Just a minute north of Evans Plunge via Cold Brook Avenue, School Street Park is probably one of Hot Springs’ least recognized or talked about parks but offers a great playground for kids and picnic tables.

What we like best about School Street Park? Shade. The trees offer a cool respite from the hot South Dakota summer sun in a natural way that parks like Chautauqua, Centennial and Brookside simply cannot match.

school street

BUTLER PARK
Between 11th & 14th Street

Almost everybody who’s lived in Hot Springs has a great Butler Park memory; be it watching fireworks on the 4th of July from the picnic areas to playing on the playground (as a kid, taking your own kids, or in some cases both!), to that tense last inning of the home baseball game.

Yet somehow Butler Park is almost completely missed by most visitors unless they’ve got a sporting event they’re specifically going to, in spite of Butler being the biggest and arguably best park in Hot Springs.

Butler Park was originally built as a horse race track, believe it or not, before becoming an official city park and since then has expanded to include the playground, basketball hoops, tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, walking/biking trails, a skate park, picnic shelters and outdoor grills, all near the spectacular scenery of the Seven Sisters range and Battle Mountain. Its close proximity to the Hot Springs Public Library also enhances its position, and it’s not far from The Mammoth Site, either.

There’s no better place to enjoy outdoors sports in town than Butler Park. If you’re planning to visit Hot Springs this summer, make sure to take time to visit a city park so you can appreciate how different our parks are from other communities’ as much as we do!

Butler Park in Hot Springs