So you’ve been awed by Mt. Rushmore and wondered at the tenacity of the sculpting family behind the Crazy Horse Memorial.  You’re ready for fresh air and the beauty of outdoor activities of South Dakota.  You definitely have great options to enjoy nature in the Badlands, Black Hills, Custer State National Park and the Mickelson Trail, to name a few. In the intense heat of the South Dakota summer sun, though, you may want some indoor time.

Activities in Hot Springs South Dakota

When you are visiting the gorgeous Badlands and Black Hills nearby, you will pass through or near the town of Hot Springs in South Dakota.  Here are 5 indoor activities you can do in South Dakota when being outside gets too much for you (or the kids).

What to do in Hot Springs South Dakota

Mammoth Site

The Mammoth Site is open year round as a museum and a working archeological dig.  It has the largest collection of mammoth bones in the world. The area used to be a watering hole nearly 26000 years ago and the occasional mammoth would fall in. So far, they have found 61 mammoths’ remains. Amusingly, we were told all these mammoths were male.  I’d like to think the female mammoths were too smart to fall in the pond and not be able to get out.

Activities in Hot Springs South Dakota

The different sizes of various mammoths

My children thought the exhibit was fascinating.  The Mammoth Site runs a summer camp and, if we lived any closer to Hot Springs South Dakota, I would definitely send my kids off to be junior palenteologists.

Activities in Hot Springs South Dakota

Giant Mammoth Tusks

Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary is also located in Hot Springs, South Dakota.  Our tour of the sanctuary turned out to be a private one because we were the only people there. The guide was local and really knew her stuff.

wild horse sanctuary in Hot Springs South Dakota

The Wild Horse Sanctuary

We saw all 4 different types of mustangs – American, Curly, Spanish and Choctaw.  Some of the mustangs came right up to us and we  even got to feed some of them.  Once again, my kids were enthralled at getting so close to the mustangs.

I know this activity is technically mostly outside but being driven around with the fresh wind in our faces in a jeep was a refreshing change from hiking up and down hills.

Evans Plunge

My kids are BIG fans of thermal pools and so, of course, we had to try the hot springs for which Hot Springs was named.

Evans Plunge sign

Evan’s Plunge claims to be the oldest tourist attraction in the Black Hills.  It’s somewhat dated but for a quick play in the pool, my kids were happy. There are a couple of water slides as well. I joined a local water aerobics class that was happening while my husband played with the kids.

Think of it as a large community centre pool and you won’t be disappointed. It is definitely not as clean, sparkling and shiny as the Icelandic and Austrian thermal pools we’ve been to.  The water is more warm than hot but Warm Springs doesn’t have much of a ring to it, does it?

Wind Cave National Park

You can take guided tours of Wind Cave National Park which was the first cave to be designated a national park in the world in 1903.  The wind that the caves are known for are due to the difference in pressure between the cave and the surface.  Wind Cave is sacred to the Native Americans who lived in the area.

Wind Cave National Park

Image Credit: Julie Falk

We were part of a fairly large group.  The tour guide was excellent though and we had no problems keeping up with him. Wind Cave is part of a large and complex cave system much of which is still not explored.  On average four new miles of cave are discovered each year!!

Pioneer History Museum

The Pioneer History Museum is in the centre of Hot Springs and housed in what used to be an elementary school. It’s got a mixed collection of historical memorabilia.  You get a sense of pioneer life with its display of everyday items.  It was good for my children to see how much they take for granted nowadays!! The museum is open during the summer months and is free for the under 12 set.

Hot Springs South Dakota

The Hot Springs Jail which saw quite a bit of action in its day.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this round up of fun indoor activities near Hot Springs South Dakota.  Our favourite would have to be the Wild Horses Sanctuary because we are horse-crazy in my family.  What would be your pick?


This post is linked up with Weekend Wanderlust and The Weekly Postcard.

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