Hot Springs is a small city in Fall River County, South Dakota. The area has been known for millennia for its hot springs, considered by the Sioux and Cheyenne people as sacred. European settlers built a number of resorts in the 19th century, including the Evans Plunge, an indoor pool filled with hot spring waters. Paleontological sites around Hot springs found a large number of well-preserved mammoth bones. Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary protects the native habitat and a herd of abandoned and unwanted wild horses. Pioneer Museum has 25 distinct areas with exhibits telling the story of the life of Native Americans and pioneers living in the area.

We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.

1.Mammoth Site of Hot Springs

Mammoth Site of Hot Springs
© Krzysztof Wiktor/

The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota is an active paleontological site and a museum near Hot Springs, South Dakota. The area surrounds a prehistoric sinkhole that formed and was consequently filled with layers of sediments during the Pleistocene era. The sinkhole fill includes the remains of various flora and fauna which has been preserved by being buried in the sinkhole. This site contains the remains of 61 mammoths, including 58 North American Columbian and three woolly mammoths, the world’s greatest concentration of mammoth remains. The museum, which encloses the site, was established in 1974, when the bones were discovered and now contains an extensive collection of mammoth remains. The Mammoth Site offers guided tours, a gaming app and Summer Educational Programs.

1800 US-18 BYP, Hot Springs, SD 57747, Phone: 605-745-6017

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2.Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Hot Springs, SD

Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Hot Springs, SD
© spiritofamerica/

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary was founded in 1988 by Dayton O. Hyde. It is one of the greatest private wilderness areas in the States. The sanctuary, which covers 11,000 acres of private land, is managed by the Institute of Range and American Mustang, also founded by Dayton O. Hyde. It is dedicated to preservation of a balanced ecosystem of the Southern Black Hills. The main mission is to save this once sacred land full of rich Native American and Early Pioneer history from development, to preserve the natural habitat of the ingenious wildlife that lives on the land and to provide a home for unwanted American Mustangs. The sanctuary provides not only freedom and protection for unadoptable and unwanted wild horses, where wild horses can run free in their natural habitat, but also a research area dedicated for solving wild horse herd management.

12165 Highland Rd, Hot Springs, SD 57747, Phone: 605-745-5955

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3.Evans Plunge, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Evans Plunge, Hot Springs, South Dakota
© Evans Plunge

Evans Plunge is an indoor pool in Hot Springs, South Dakota, filled with naturally warm mineral water from the local thermal springs. The Lakota and Cheyenne knew about and used the natural river of warm water springs that flows through present-day Hot Springs. Evans Plunge was built in 1890 over a number of small, sparkling springs and one especially large spring of mineral water. The largest spring, at the north end of the Plunge, is known as the "Original Indian Spring." Native Americans drank and bathed in the spring's healing water. Evans Plunge and the other mineral baths in Hot Springs were considered as a cure-all for a multitude of illnesses and were a popular tourist attraction. Today, different springs may be felt as one moves through the clear water of the pool towards the original Indian Spring.

1145 N River St, Hot Springs, SD 57747, Phone: 605-745-5165

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4.Pioneer Museum, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Pioneer Museum, Hot Springs, South Dakota
© Pioneer Museum

Pioneer Museum in Hot Springs, South Dakota is located in the former elementary school, a large four story sandstone building on a hill in the town center. The museum is managed by the Fall River County Historical Society and contains a number of unique artifacts from the pioneer era. The exhibits represent the history of Fall River County and surrounds and are displayed in the museum’s 25 exhibit areas. The exhibits include original art by local artisans, including paintings and sculptures made of sandstone, marble and alabaster. There are also hundreds of historic photos of Hot Springs and the Black Hills, as well as famous prints and rich tapestries and quilts from the days gone by. The museum also exhibits objects used in daily lives of pioneer farmers and ranchers such as handcrafted tools, wood cook stoves, old washing machines and kerosene lamps.

300 N Chicago St, Hot Springs, SD 57747, Phone: 605-745-5147

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5.Woolly's Grill and Cellar, Hot Springs, SD

Woolly's Grill and Cellar, Hot Springs, SD
© Woolly's Grill and Cellar

What started out as a drive-thru spot serving gourmet coffee and fresh smoothies in the Southern Black Hills in Hot Springs, South Dakota, has grown into a popular farmhouse-style elegant restaurant. It is today an upscale restaurant with cozy, warm interior, several originally decorated dining rooms, excellent cellar and superbly prepared original dishes cooked to perfection by a masterful chef. Woolly's Grill & Cellar is the locals' destination for special occasions and celebrations. The restaurant specializes in charbroiled steaks and grilled foods served with Texas toast, baked potato, rice pilaf, BBQ baked beans, buttered corn or green beans. There is also a salad bar, with the freshest seasonal local produce. The restaurant still offers a gourmet coffee and smoothie bar during regular business hours.

1648 US Highway 18 (Truck Bypass), Hot Springs, SD 57747, Phone: 605-745-6414

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6.Earth Goods Natural Foods, Hot Springs, South Dakota

Earth Goods Natural Foods, Hot Springs, South Dakota
© Earth Goods Natural Foods

Earth Goods Natural Foods is a grocery store located in the beautiful southern Black Hills, in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Opened since 1996, the store offers the freshest natural foods, food free from chemicals, preservatives and artificial ingredients with no GMO ingredients, a wide variety of vitamins and herbal supplements, extensive selection of gluten free breads, baking mixes, pasta and cookies, bulk herbs and foods, organic produce, green household products and natural body care products. The store also offers occasional seminars on natural and alternative medicine and sampling of healthy foods, as well as a range of free printed literature on nutrition.

738 Jennings Ave, Hot Springs, SD 57747, Phone: 605-745-7715

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6 Best Things to Do in Hot Springs, South Dakota

Attraction Spotlight in SD: Mammoth Site

Located in Hot Springs, South Dakota, the Mammoth Site is a paleontological dig site that is still active today. The site boasts the world's largest concentration of mammoth fossils. The current count of mammoths at the excavation site is sixty-one, including three woolly mammoths and fifty-eight Columbian mammoths. The Mammoth Site is now a one-of-a-kind National Natural Landmark that guests are welcome to come and explore. Admission to the Mammoth Site includes a thirty-minute guided tour of the dig site's sinkhole, a ten-minute film that introduces visitors to the site, and admission to the Exhibit Hall that displays full-size mammoth replicas, as well as a full-size replica of a Giant-Short Faced Bear.

Over twenty-six thousand years ago, large woolly and Columbian mammoths were trapped in spring-fed pond and died near what is known today as the southwestern edge of the town of Hot Springs. The bones of these mammoths lay buried for hundreds of years until the year of 1974, when they were discovered by luck during an excavation for a housing development after equipment moved the ground and exposed the greatest treasure of fossil in South Dakota. Fortunately, the Mammoth Site was preserved through the hard work of local residents. The site is now a research center of world-renown for Pleistocene studies, as well as the largest Columbian mammoth exhibit in the world.

The sinkhole, as well as the in-situ exhibit of mammoth remains are now protected in an enclosed, climate-controlled building, drawing visitors to the Mammoth Site throughout the year. The mammoth bones are exhibited exactly how they were when they were discovered, within the now dried up pond sediments as an "in-situ" exhibit. Walkways along the exhibit provide guests with a chance to view the fossils close-up. To this day, sixty-one mammoths have been discovered and identified at the Mammoth Sites, along with fossils of a fish, wolf, prairie dog, llama, camel, a giant short-faced bear, and several other invertebrate and plant fossils.

After a guided tour lasting around thirty minutes, visitors are welcome to walk along the pathways around the dig site at their own pace. Afterwards, they explore the site's numerous exhibits located in the Ice Age Exhibit Hall, as well as catch a glimpse of a functioning paleontology lab through its windows. Guests can also watch a number of short films on the history of the Mammoth Site, geology, early North America and the animals and people that lived during the Ice Ages, laboratory procedures of the museum, and Hunting Mammoths. While visitors can just stop in for the tour, it's recommended that they allow for at least one or two hours for their visit.

The majority of the Mammoth Site's fossil are remains of North American Columbian mammoths. Evidence of a few woolly mammoths were also identified at the site. This is the first site where both of these mammoth species have been found. Fossils of other animals during the Ice Age have also been found. Entire fish skeletons, imprint bird feather fossils, and many mollusk shells were also recovered from the twenty-six thousand-year-old now dry sinkhole.

1800 US 18 Bypass, Hot Springs, South Dakota, Phone: 605-745-6017

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Attraction Spotlight in SD: Children's Museum of South Dakota

The Children's Museum of South Dakota, located in Brookings, offers a place of learning that relates to its community, its region, its children, and their wants and needs. It's a place of learning through play for visitors of all ages. The museum contains a wide variety of both indoor and outdoor exhibits that are broadly based on subjects such as history, science, geography, engineering, culture, literature, and art. From the water play in the Splash exhibit to the role-playing fun of KidStreet, there's plenty to keep children excited and learning.

In the Our Prairie exhibit, visitors can discover who they are and where they've come from as they learn about the important connection between culture and land in the region. The exhibit creates a landscape in which kids can learn more about how the traditional Dakota/Lakota people and the pioneer settlers lived. Children can experience the wide-open prairie as they climb in the clouds of the Climb a Cloud gallery. Prairie Ways offers the chance the role-play the daily tasks of prairie life, while the Prairie Farm provides a look at the connections between food and the animals and land from which it comes.

The Sensations exhibit at the Children's Museum of South Dakota teaches children about math as they try to solve challenges related to musical and visual patterns. They also learn about solving problems by working together and cultivating their own creativity. The Art Studio offers an energetic, fun space for kids to participate in hands-on art activities, while the Creativity Lab provides an opportunity to experiment with colors, shapes, textures, and patterns. Children can also experiment with airflow in Airway Adventure.

Children will have a blast in the museum's Splash exhibit, where they will be able to practice problem-solving through experimentation with water. Visitors learn about water movement, the tools used to manipulate water, and water's natural properties through water play. Kids can build pipes to direct the flow of water in every direction at the Splash Table, or squirt targets with water to make them move. The space helps develop fine motor skills by moving pieces and putting them together to create different structures, learning from each other by watching how others build their structures.

In Plink, Plank, Plop, children learn about planning and building pathways by moving colorful balls onto a launching platform and arranging panels to change their movement. The balls then move over the panels until they land back in the water. Designed for younger children, Tot Spot offers space for excitement and giggles. Toddlers can watch as colorful balls float over paddlewheels and down water troughs to cascading waters, while jets move the water in different directions. Children can move water themselves with colorful objects or just by using their hands. The MiniExplorers exhibit is another space for the museum's youngest visitors, offering a more serene environment for children to explore the prairie.

521 4th Street, Brookings, SD 57006, Phone: 605-692-6700

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