We spent three nights in Hot Springs, South Dakota. It was a wonderful launchpad for South Dakota adventures!
Hot Springs is on the west side of the state - where many travelers visit all year long. The west side of the state is home to the Sturgis motorcycle festival, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and its famous wildlife loop, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave and so many others.
Hot Springs is also south, almost to the Nebraska border. When we have visited this side of SoDak in the past, we have stayed more north -- in a VRBO as close to Custer State Park or Mt Rushmore as possible.. Or, once on our Ultimate SoDak Road Trip, we stayed IN Custer State Park in one of their really cute cabins..
In Hot Springs we stayed in a camper that we rented on the HomeAway website. It was definitely "Glamping" with cliffside views and a private hot tub! Dogs allowed of course!
We visited a beautiful aqua colored lake that was created by a dam. It is called Cold Brook Lake. There were locals there, laying out on the beach and enjoying all sorts of water recreation.
This was the first time we stayed as far south as Hot Springs. It was a little more quiet. A little less busy (even though it was prime tourist season.) And it had some hidden gems! The boys spent an entire afternoon playing in a natural spring-fed stream at a little local park called Chautauqua Park. An ideal way to spend a hot summer day.
We spent one full day driving through Custer State Park, the wildlife loop and Needles Highway (Pictured above. Can you see the teeny car?)
The wildlife loop is a "must-do." It is absolutely thrilling! Magnificent scenery.
Wildlife galore! We saw hundreds of adorable prairie dogs, coyote, pronghorns, buffalos, eagles -- and we FINALLY saw the wild burros! Including this magical white one pictured above.
Arlo cried out, "Look a unicorn!" and it really does look like one, doesn't it?
Certain times of year - the buffalo tend to make their "calling" - a sort of loud growl/moan that reverberates right through you. They tend to stick out their blueish tongues when they do it. I was told it is primarily a mating season occurrence.
We also saw this coyote hungrily go right into the center of a group of pronghorns. He was eventually chased out -- scared of their large numbers. It was fascinating to watch!
All of these experiences were within driving distance from Hot Springs. The town itself is charming and has much to offer as well. Cute coffee shops, vibrant street art, a lovely promenade, an aquatic center with natural mineral water, an amazing wooly mammoth dig site & museum, and a wild horse sanctuary! We have spent time at each of these attractions and can highly recommend them. Great for kids!
Thanks for having us Hot Springs!! We will be back!
IF YOU GO:
Activities: Evans Plunge Natural Mineral Springs Aquatic Center, Mammoth Site, Wild Horse Sanctuary
Restaurants: Dinner: Woolly's, Chops & Hops. Quick Lunch: Dew Drop Inn. Breakfast: Daily Bread and Bakery Cafe. Coffee: Mornin' Sunshine Coffee
Outdoors: Chautauqua Park, Cold Brook Lake, Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park.