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. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Mammoth Site of Hot Springs
2.Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Hot Springs, SD
3.Evans Plunge, Hot Springs, South Dakota
4.Pioneer Museum, Hot Springs, South Dakota
5.Woolly's Grill and Cellar, Hot Springs, SD
6.Earth Goods Natural Foods, Hot Springs, South Dakota
6 Best Things to Do in Hot Springs, South Dakota
- Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, Photo: Krzysztof Wiktor/stock.adobe.com
- Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Hot Springs, SD, Photo: spiritofamerica/stock.adobe.com
- Evans Plunge, Hot Springs, South Dakota, Photo: Evans Plunge
- Pioneer Museum, Hot Springs, South Dakota, Photo: Pioneer Museum
- Woolly's Grill and Cellar, Hot Springs, SD, Photo: Woolly's Grill and Cellar
- Earth Goods Natural Foods, Hot Springs, South Dakota, Photo: Earth Goods Natural Foods
- Cover Photo: spiritofamerica/stock.adobe.com
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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