In addition to my JR’s Wild West travelog for my history related trips, I am also going to be doing what I am calling ‘An Idiot, A Broad’, documenting my wife and I’s travels of no real historical significance. Welcome to the first post: Hot Springs, SD.
Hot Springs, SD was our next stop after visiting Wounded Knee & Pine Ridge. I had wanted to go there the year before on our way home but ended up going back through Rapid City and the Badlands due to how our traveling to Mt. Rushmore went.
As we pulled into town it reminded me a lot of Deadwood, which we had also visited the previous summer, in the way the city seemed to be laid in a gully and carved into the side of the hills. I was already on board. As we drove down the main drag the scenery changed from more modern restaurants and stores into a cute downtown area filled with local shops and historic looking buildings. As we pulled up to our hotel it began to rain. (Just like Deadwood! :S )
We were booked at the Red Rock River Resort, a luxurious hotel within one of the historic sandstone buildings found throughout Hot Springs. The architecture of the outside and inside called back to an earlier period but this was no antiquated, run down hotel, Red Rock still had all the modern comforts we’ve come to expect, and more. Nice beds and bedding, flat screen TVs, wifi and things like walk in showers and two person tubs. (we picked the room with the 2 person tub) AWESOME. The hotel even boasts it’s own spa, complete with hot tub, sauna, and several heat rooms. (The sand heat room was our favorite) They even offer massage services. Needless to say, we felt like we were living large for the day. Absolutely excellent.
After getting settled into our room we walked down the street to find some grub. The clerk at the hotel’s desk suggested a pizza place next door or another place down the street. We weren’t in the pizza mood so we went down the street. I can’t recall the name of the place but it was pretty good. Grossly understaffed, serving pretty standard bar food, but still pretty good.
The walk south from the hotel along Fall River was quite beautiful, there is a waterfall and a city park along the way. Between the historic buildings and the beauty of the surrounding nature even a stroll down the street made for a highlight during our visit.
Our next stop was, of course, Evans Plunge, a water park, of sorts, fed by natural thermal spring water. Established in 1890, the water stays 87 degrees year round. There is a metric shit ton of things to do at Evans Plunge, with several water slide, pools, basketball hoops, and more. The water, though fed by a thermal spring, did not smell of sulfur like other spring-fed pools you will encounter. The water was warm and comfortable and the pool floor was covered in smooth stones, which added to the pleasure of swimming there.
After swimming we went back to our hotel and enjoyed the spa. We then went for another short walk and found a ridiculous stair set going up the hillside. After scaling it and seeing the weirdest bug on Earth we adjourned back to our room.
The next morning before skipping town we went to the Mammoth Site. The drive from the historic downtown area to the Mammoth site across town took us over a bridge and up and over a hill with mainly residential area. This part of town was much more ‘Anytown, USA’ than the rest of Hot Springs but still made for pleasant scenery.
I was a HUGE dinosaur nerd when I was a kid (aren’t most kids?) and although mammoths obviously aren’t dinosaurs this was still an excellent stop. The whole history of this site is fascinating and leaves you wondering, how many fossil bed treasure troves like this one are still underground, undiscovered? Needless to say Mammoth Site was definitely worth the stop.
I’ll just leave these here…
And that was our trip to Hot Springs, SD. For a town of only around 3,500 people, there certainly is a lot to see and do. Our visit was very enjoyable and plan to return some time.
What: Red Rock River Resort, Evans Plunge, Mammoth Site, Downtown
Who: Everyone; kids, old people, normal people.
Where: Hot Springs, SD
When: Whenever’s clever
How: You will be driving to get there. But once there several locations are within walking or biking distance of each other.