Even if you’re going to South Dakota to see the famous Mount Rushmore or Crazy Horse monuments, a road trip to one of the hot springs near Rapid City is a must-do. Technically, a couple of these geothermal pools qualify more as warm springs, but they are still much more hospitable than other pools or bathing places.
All of these waters are naturally infused with minerals that have been shown to be good for the human body and skin. When traveling in the summertime, don’t forget to bring lots of drinking water to stay hydrated. Especially in natural areas, pack water shoes to make it easier to walk around damp rocks and potentially muddy trails.
After a day of soaking, make some time to explore the Black Hills Region, which is loaded with rich history and culture. And consider exploring South Dakota’s other natural springs while in the Mount Rushmore State.
Here are the closest springs to Rapid City, in order of proximity.
Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa – 58 mi | 1 hr
Located in the town of Hot Springs, SD, Moccasin Springs is a 19th-century day spa with four outdoor geothermal pools, a bathhouse for changing and showering, and a poolhouse for resting between soaks. Water temperatures vary from 88-102℉, with the largest soaking area being the 1913 pool, which keeps 88-90℉ all year.
This facility is for guests ages 18 and older, with mandatory swim attire, and they pride themselves in using no chemicals in their waters. Visitors don’t need a reservation to come to take a dip, but they ask people to bring their towels or rent one from the staff.
Moccasin Springs is open from February to April on Wednesdays to Sundays, 5-8 pm, and 11 am-2 pm, 5-9 pm from May to December. Visitors are welcome to stay for dinner at the property’s on-site eatery, Buffalo Dreamer Restaurant, and browse their gift shop.
The venue also offers a full-scale spa with treatments, including a large selection of massages, reiki, reflexology, raindrop therapy, facials, and more. Guests that book a spa service receive a discount on soaking fees, so carve out time for both activities during your visit. Special events and classes on wellness like yoga and clearing negative energy are offered occasionally and posted on their calendar.
Evans Plunge Mineral Springs – 58 miles | 1 hour
Even though the water at Evans Plunge isn’t hot for soaking, it keeps a steady 87℉ and is the oldest attraction in the Black Hills. Some claim that the facility is known as the “world’s largest natural warm water indoor swimming pool,” and it pumps roughly 5,000 gallons of fresh flow every hour.
These springs have been used since at least the 19th century by local tribes. These local swimming holes were once thought to be cure-alls for various ailments. Evans Plunge was constructed in 1890 over a number of tiny, sparkling springs and one massive source of geothermal mineral water.
These natural pools are open year-round and operated by the City of Hot Springs; the cost of admission also gives access to the health club. Punch cards and memberships are offered to visitors or locals that want to come to use the water regularly.
While there are no on-site accommodations, swimmers that bring in proof of stay at any Hot Springs hotel or campground will receive a 10% discount on their admission to the pools. Evans Plunge is open six days a week and closed on Tuesdays. On Weekdays the facilities are available from 6 am to 7 pm, and on weekends the hours are 10 am to 6 pm.
Cascade Falls – 67 miles | 1 hour 10 minutes
Located just 8 miles south of the city of Hot Springs, Cascade Falls is in the midst of Fall River County, home to whispering falls, lush vegetation, and warm turquoise-colored pools that create a fairytale-like ambiance. These crystal clear waters are a popular spot for locals and visitors to South Dakota that want to beat the heat in a beautiful natural environment.
The temperature is a consistent 67℉ and much warmer than other rivers or natural pools in the area. Large smooth rocks for sunbathing and gentle currents make this swimming location fun and relaxing place to bring the family.
Known as the “Old Swimming Hole” to natives, Cascade Falls is in the Black Hills National Forest and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. There are designated parking lots with cement pathways that lead right to the water, where swimming is allowed. A little ways away is the Cascade Springs, where getting in is not permitted. Any USFS fees or permits apply to this location too.
It’s nice to have a little break while touring the Black Hills region, which any one of these attractions can provide. Check out this selection on your next drive through “The Land of the Plenty.”