The #1 Question asked at our local attractions and visitor information center is, of course, “where are the springs in Hot Springs?” We’ve compiled this handy-dandy list of the best places to find the natural warm mineral spring water that has soothed generations.
5. MINNEKAHTA SPRINGS
Location: Minnekahta Avenue/Near Kidney Springs
Minnekahta Springs, once an open-air bathhouse, is currently under development and is inaccessible while under construction, but you can see the massive amounts of runoff water from Minnekahta Springs flowing out into Fall River on the western retaining wall opposite Kidney Springs. This area – pictured to the right – is not currently accessible to the general public. In the near future, Minnekahta Springs will be open again for visitors!
4. CASCADE SPRINGS/CASCADE FALLS/KEITH PARK
Location: 6 miles S. of Hot Springs on Hwy 71/Cascade Road
On the way to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, there’s a small park and picnic area on the east side of the road about 10 miles out. Marked by a sign and a gateway and operated by the US Forest Service, Cascade Springs, the largest single springs in the Black Hills, is one of the few springs in the Hot Springs area still in a more “natural” environment.
From underneath a gazebo, Cascade Springs flows out at a constant 67°F on two sides – one into a fountain, one into a small viewing area. Swimming is not typically permitted at the spring source – but you can drive about another 2 miles south on Hwy 71 to visit Cascade Falls, the “old swimming hole” to swim!
TIP FROM THE LOCALS: While at Cascade, you should be cautious about where you step and what you touch. Poison ivy grows in abundance near the spring and there is always a possibility of a rattlesnake during warmer months. Stay on established trails and have a ton of fun!
3. KIDNEY SPRINGS
Location: N. River St/North End of Fall River Freedom Trail
Under a plain white gazebo designed in 1927 (and refurbished in 2014), topped with a gorgeous sculpture by local artist Michael Tuma known as “The Gift,” you will find the small and simple Kidney Springs. For generations, Kidney Springs has been a source for many locals’ drinking water and today you may still find folks filling their water jugs or bottles, and you’re welcome to do the same. Kidney Springs’s water is crystal clear and full of minerals – a nearby sign indicates the chemical analysis of the water.
FUN FACT: Kidney Springs was once named Hygieia Springs for the Greek goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation!
2. FALL RIVER/CHAUTAUQUA PARK/BROOKSIDE PARK
Location: S. River St./Fall River Freedom Trail/Hot Brook Canyon Road
Of all the mineral spring water in Hot Springs, Fall River is easily the most noticeable. Running the entire length of Hot Springs, Fall River is the lifeblood of the community. The Fall River Freedom Trail follows it for a one-mile stretch and through two city parks: Centennial Park and Brookside Park. At the latter, you’re encouraged to find the deeper spots and soak in the warm water of the river and at Chautuaqua Park north of Evans Plunge, you’re welcome to do the same. A favorite local pastime: sitting on the bridge at Chautauqua Park and dipping just your feet in.
Wildlife love Fall River as much as humans do; Ducks and deer are common sights along the riverbed, and you can spot fish and occasional turtles in the water in the warmer months. In the wintertime, the river never freezes and the steam coming off the river is one of the most beautiful sights Hot Springs has to offer.
BEST PHOTO OP: Be sure to take a selfie or a family photo at the waterfall. Best time to take pics: early morning when the sun first hits the waterfall, or nighttime, when we’ve got it lit up colorfully.
1. EVANS PLUNGE
Location: 1145 N. River St
The world’s largest natural warm water indoor swimming pool takes the top spot on our list of places to experience the “minnekahta” while in Hot Springs. Built in 1890 by local businessman Frederick T. Evans, the Evans Plunge is the Black Hills’ oldest attraction, older than Crazy Horse or Mt. Rushmore by decades, and continues to offer the same relaxation and recreation for all ages, all year round.
Over 5,000 gallons a minute flows through Evans Plunge from one massive thermal spring at the north side of the pool as well as several smaller springs at a consistent 87°F. Kids and adults alike can partake in fun activities like water slides, volleyball, basketball, lap swimming, “Tarzan” rings, as well as relax in the health club with a sauna, steam room, and hot tubs. An outdoor pool, open in the warmer months, is filled with the same natural warm spring water and offers beautiful views of Battle Mountain, Battle Mountain Sanitarium National Historic Landmark, and Fall River.
TIP FROM THE LOCALS: Be sure to bring your receipt from a local hotel or motel – it nets you a discount on admission. Or, alternatively, visit during the last two hours of the day (hours at evansplunge.com) during the twilight special hours for 50% off the normal rate. Admission is also good all day so if you go early in the morning when there are fewer people, then go out for the day and you can come back to swim in the evening after dinner to relax.