A Brief History of Hot Springs National Park
The area we now know as Hot Springs National Park, was first a territory of the United
States in 1803. It was part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1807, settlers came and soon realized it
was an area that had potential to be used as a health resort. A short time after, in the 1830s, log
cabins and a store was built to meet the needs of visitors. Today, thousands of people go to the
springs every year.
Nature and Science
Although the hot springs are the primary natural resource of the park, they have not been
preserved in their natural state. They have been managed to conserve the production of
uncontaminated hot water for public use. Hot Springs is primarily forested hills and valley.
Autumn brings out many bright colors to the area, but the wildflowers and blooming trees in the
spring are breathtaking. The park is also filled with area wildlife. There are no endangered or
threatened animal species living in the park. The park consists of mostly bats, rodents and other
The Hot Springs park has all four seasons Something South Dakotans know all about.
The weather is very mild in the spring, as well as in the fall, with some humidity. The summer is
hot and extremely humid. In the winter, the temperatures vary. It ranges from below freezing to
the 60s. No matter what the season, you should always be prepared for the changes in weather.
It's always good to have a light jacket on hand. The best time to visit Hot Springs seems to be
either the fall or spring season.
The water is a natural resource. The tradition of drinking it, and bathing in it still remains
today. It has long been considered the country's best due to it being pure tasting and odorless. In
fact, the park has many thermal water jug fountains and two cold spring jug fountains. Most
visitors and local residents collect the water and take it home with them. After all, the water is
what attracts people to Hot Springs, even 10,000 years ago when people first found it. The most
important thing about Hot Springs' thermal water is that it's sterile. Even during the early years
of the Springs being uncovered, the absence of bacteria in the water helped prevent the spread of
disease. Today, many of the hot springs are covered with green concrete boxes to help keep the
waters clean and available for bathing and drinking.
Taking the Baths
Traditional thermal baths are provided on Bathhouse Row. The Hot Springs Health Spa,
also located in the park, offers the facilities of a modern day health spa. No appointments are
necessary, and the baths are big enough to strech out and relax. The water is fresh, and it is at a
temperature of 100 degrees. You can soak for up to 20 minutes at a time. After that, there is hot
packs for special heat therapy for aches and pains, following a two minute cool down shower. If
all that isn't enough for you, you can get a 20 minute Swedish massage with the cost being a little
Hiking in Hot Springs can be as fun and rewarding as it is in other national parks. It is a
great way to see and experience Hot Springs park. It is also a great way to get your exercise for
the day . There are 26 miles of day use hiking, and two scenic mountain drives. There are over 10
trails to choose from. Some are harder then others. It is recommend for non-exercisers or beginners, to take the easier trails, and so on.
The National Park Service and the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce sponsors
a Volkmarsch each October in conjunction with the city Oktoberfest. There are many different
events at the fest, but the most commonly known and popular one, would be the walk in the park.
Participants register and then walk either the 5 km or 10...