Located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, the town of Hot Springs might be small, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm! With a population of just over 3,500, you might get the feeling that everybody already knows everyone else, but don’t let that scare you away. Hot Springs is home to a popular tourist attraction, the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, which is a museum and paleontological dig site. It’s also where you’ll find Evans Plunge Mineral Springs, which is an indoor water park which uses natural spring water!
Make no bones about it, though; Hot Springs is also a great location for dog owners. While there isn’t much to do within the city – there are two dog-friendly restaurants – Hot Springs does have a lot of nearby dog-friendly places to explore. Within an hour drive in just about any direction, there’s something for you and your pooch to dig into. If you’re willing to handle a bit of a road trip with Fido, make sure to give Hot Springs a chance!
If you and your adventurous pooch are feeling up to going for a walk somewhere new, give western Hot Springs’s George S. Mickelson Trail a chance. This trail, named after a former governor of South Dakota, is over one hundred miles long! So while you and your canine companion probably can’t even imagine walking the entire length of the trail, there is an access point in Hot Springs. Make sure to bring along plenty of water for the both of you, and you’ll want to bring some waste disposal bags. A leash is required.
Wind Cave National Park, found in the northern end of Hot Springs, has not one but two trails where Fido can join you on a hike! Your leashed dog can tag along on the Elk Mountain Trail and the Prairie Vista Nature Trail. Keep your eyes open for local wildlife at all times. Make sure to bring some good walking shoes, some water, and maybe even a picnic lunch, as there are picnic shelters located within the park. No one likes stepping in any unexpected “gifts” left behind, so please take care to clean up after your pooch.
If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with a buffalo, now’s your – and your dog’s – chance! Custer State Park, located about twenty-five miles north of Hot Springs, is home to an eighteen-mile long “wildlife loop.” The wildlife loop allows your family and your dog to view the park’s wildlife all from the safety of your vehicle. You probably shouldn’t let your dog get too close, though. After you’re done with that, head out to one of several dog-friendly hiking trails! A leash is required on the trails, and please bring along your own water and waste disposal bags.
Located near Cleghorn Canyon in Rapid City, about an hour’s drive north of Hot Springs, is Braeburn Addition Off-Leash Area, and if you’re willing to make the drive, your canine companion will certainly howl in appreciation! This dog park isn’t fenced in, but it is pretty isolated, and it allows your dog to cool off by making a splash in the Rapid Creek! Your dog can make some friends of his own species while going for a swim or playing fetch in the shallow areas of the creek. Make sure to bring some water for yourself and some waste disposal bags.
One of the oldest attractions in southern Rapid City, located about forty-five minutes north of Hot Springs, is Reptile Gardens. Don’t let the name fool you, though; your pooch is certainly welcome to join you! Enjoy the beautiful flowers and other plants while taking a stroll through the gardens with your four-legged friend. If you’re feeling brave, go to one of the reptile exhibits where you’ll get the opportunity to interact with beautiful reptiles and amphibians, including snakes and turtles. A leash is required; this rule is strictly enforced. Waste bags are not provided.