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Hot Springs, South Dakota

Hot Springs On The Big Screen – 10 Movies Filmed in The Veterans Town

‎Monday, ‎June ‎1, ‎2015, ‏‎11:07:39 AM | Justin Gausman

South Dakota has a small but growing film industry that has brought a number of filmmakers and movie stars to our state, ranging from Kevin Costner’s world-renowned Dances With Wolves to Disney’s National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets starring Nic Cage, from Michael Apted’s Thunderheart starring Val Kilmer and Graham Greene to portions of the epic 1950’s western How the West Was Won.

With majestic landscapes and unique resources, it’s no surprise that several movies both notable and otherwise have been filmed right here in Hot Springs. What is a surprise is just how many there are! Today we’re counting them down!

Crazy Horse – 1996 – TNT Films

Directed by John Irvin, Crazy Horse is a made-for-TV film about the legendary Native American leader, who is portrayed by Michael Greyeyes. Much of the filming was done at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, and the re-creation of Fort Robinson made for the film can still be visited on tours. Unfortunately, Crazy Horse has not been released on DVD or digitally, but one may still be able to find used VHS tapes.

Hidalgo – 2004 – Touchstone Pictures

Directed by Joe Johnston and starring Viggo Mortenson hot off the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hidalgo is the Hollywood-ized story of Frank Hopkins, a real life cowboy, and his horse, the eponymous Hidalgo, who enter and compete in a 3,000 mile race across a Middle Eastern desert. Early scenes in the film were shot near Hot Springs at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, before the movie hits its stride with the main action-adventure story. It’s a mostly-family-friendly movie, fun to watch with a bowl of popcorn.


Into The Wild – 2007 – Paramount Vantage

Directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild is about the real life story of Christopher McCandless, who traveled across America on foot and eventually died in the wilderness of Alaska. While South Dakota only features in a minor part of the movie, one scene was filmed at the Fall River County Jail and another was filmed at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

Into the Wild can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Into-Wild-Emile-Hirsch/dp/B000ZN802W

Raising the Mammoth – 2000 – Discovery Channel

This documentary, aired on the Discovery Channel, depicts the story of the Jarkov Mammoth and the challenges in attempts to raise it from its frozen grave in Siberia. Dr. Larry Agenbroad (1933-2014) who was the Mammoth Site director, is featured as well as the Site itself.



Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde – 2013 – Running Wild Films

Running Wild premiered in 2013 and took film festivals around the nation by storm. Directed by Suzanne Mitchell, this documentary tells the life story of Black Hills Wild Horse Santuary founder Dayton Hyde. This must-watch film showcases beautiful high-definition video of Black Hills scenery and pacing that captures Mr. Hyde’s personality and the charm & passion of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Running Wild is available for purchase through several outlets and is available for streaming on Netflix as of May 2015, but is also available to purchase through the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary’s website, www.wildmustangs.com.

Dawn of Conviction – 2012 – Companion Pictures

Made by students from Fairfield University, Dawn of Conviction is a wonderful independent western about three brothers and the cast includes a handful of local actors as well, including Jim Kent and Larry White Crow, with several scenes shot at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. More information about the movie can be found here: http://faculty.fairfield.edu/mediacenter/dawn_of_conviction/

Until Forever – 2015 – Linn Productions (In Production)

Rapid City filmmakers Michael and Marc Linn and their production company, known for previous South Dakota-made films such as Imprint and Into His Arms, looked to Hot Springs in 2014 to shoot parts of the new film Until Forever, based on an inspiring true story about the life of Michael Boyum, a young man diagnosed with leukemia who decides to make the best of the time he has left. Several scenes were shot at locations like Hot Springs High School and Fall River Health Services, utilizing locals for extras. Until Forever is expected to be released this year. Learn more at: www.facebook.com/UntilForeverTheMovie

Walter’s Return – 2014 – Babydoe Films

This touching short film by Hot Springs-based filmmaker Wendee Pettis was released as part of an anthology film about people hiking the Black Hills. In it, Larry White Crow portrays a grieving widower who goes to his “old stomping ground” to face his fear for freeing his emotions. Well paced and emotional, Walter’s Return showcases some of the best of Hot Springs’ more recent homegrown film community. Learn more at www.facebook.com/Hikethemovie

Hikethemovie TrailerTrailer for Babydoefilms’ Hikethemovie!

Posted by Babydoe Venekamp on Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Johnny Vik (aka The Hunted) – 1977 – Charles Nauman Productions

Starring Warren Hammack, Johnny Vik is about a disturbed Vietnam War veteran who is on the run from the authorities after returning home and causing trouble. Filmed in and around the Black Hills, several scenes for Johnny Vik were filmed in Hot Springs, including a car chase on the viaduct. The film is extremely hard to find except on old, used foreign VHS tapes but is a very adult-themed film.


The Incredible Search for Jamie Klotz’s Diary – 2013 – Skeeter Bite Productions

Filmed completely in Hot Springs, this adventure-comedy stars a handful of local and regional actors in a story about a teenage girl whose diary gets stolen and turns out to be the key in a plot to unleash a long-forgotten sorceress from entrapment. Jamie and her friends go on an “incredible search” to find the diary and get it back. Having premiered in Hot Springs in 2013 and screened at a film festival in Lead, SD with great reception, Jamie Klotz’s Diary has a sequel, also filmed primarily in and around Hot Springs, releasing summer 2015. Learn more at: www.facebook.com/JamieKlotzsDiary.

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The 7 Hot Springs Summer Events You Don’t Want to Miss

‎Monday, ‎May ‎11, ‎2015, ‏‎1:12:23 PM | Justin GausmanGo to full article

There’s no question about it – Hot Springs summers are busy! The local kids head to the city parks for summer recreation activities and tourists flock to attractions both indoor and outdoor for reprieve from the hot South Dakota sun. But the greatest thing about summers in Hot Springs is the number of activities and events that bring out hundreds of people to experience the culture of the community, and 2015 is going to be no different. There are all the traditional events, some that have gone on for decades, and there are relatively new ones, but all are sure to entertain. Today, we’re counting down Hot Springs’ 7 Summer 2015 events that you most definitely do NOT want to miss – and always be sure to check the community calendar for other exciting events from local businesses and organizations!

7. Wine Walk & Putt Challenge – May 22, 5-8pm

Last year, the Chamber of Commerce started a brand new event to encourage visitation of downtown retail businesses. Vendors would offer wine, beer, snacks and business-themed mini-golf holes in an evening event to get people into businesses they might not otherwise visit. To say it was a success would be an understatement. The Wine Walk drew a huge crowd to downtown Hot Springs while Chamber staff and volunteers shuttled people up and down the main drag in golf carts on loan from Southern Hills Golf Course, while musicians line the sidewalks and offer their catchiest tunes. The best parts were hearing people say “wow, I’ve never been in that store before; I found something I’ve gotta go back and get later” and watching tourists mingle with locals.

Chamber Executive Director Scott Haden shuttles Wine Walk participants between stops.

6. Screen on the Green, Every Tuesday from June 30-August 18, except July 28. Activities at 7pm, Movie at Dusk.

The Screen on the Green Summer movie series is a brand new cooperative effort among the City of Hot Springs, the Chamber of Commerce, the Hot Springs Public Library, Mueller Civic Center, Empower Coalition, and a host of sponsoring non-profit organizations. Screen on the Green brings the dream of movies in the park, long on the wishlists of many local residents, to life with a full schedule of famous family-friendly movies ranging in release date from the 1960’s to recent years screened on the lawn of the Hot Springs Public Library. Fun games offered by non-profits go with themes like “creativity night” and “science fiction night” that will surely make for memorable summer evenings for all ages in Hot Springs.

City Administrator Nolan Schroeder, Mueller Center manager Chris Kattke, Head Librarian Cindy Taylor, filmmaker & Chamber staff member Justin Gausman, and Chandi Foster and Irene Fleming from Empower Coalition pose with the newly donated outdoors screen for Screen on the Green.

5. FlatIron Market, First Saturday of the Month, June-September, 9am-2pm

Local business owner Kara Hagen noticed that something was missing from Hot Springs – a regular, monthly farmer’s market/bazaar. So she took it upon herself to make it happen. Part of Main Street is closed off one day a month near the Flat Iron Historic Sandstone Inn and top notch vendors and musicians fill the street and alley while people pour in to shop and socialize. It’s a good time for all, and a great way to spend a Saturday morning


4. Fall River Freedom Ride Poker Run, August 2, 9:30am-4:30pm – RALLY WEEK EVENT

Hot Springs is the Veterans Town and during Rally Week, the Post 71 Legion Riders go all out in honor of our military and veterans with the Fall River Freedom Ride. Starting at the State Veterans Home, riders depart for a flag parade and military escort through downtown Hot Springs at 11am, then ride through Custer State Park for a poker run. Riders return to the American Legion in Hot Springs in the evening and the winner is determined – and additional proceeds go to benefit the residents at the State Veterans Home.

Post 71 Legion Riders make a patriotic ride through downtown Hot Springs.

3. Independence Day, July 4 – Day-Long Events

Nowhere in South Dakota does the 4th of July the way the Veterans Town does. From early in the morning on the anniversary of our nation’s founding, Hot Springs is already busy with runners heading out for the 5K/10K/Mile Firecracker races, which start in Centennial Park at 6am. Mid-morning at 10am, countless organizations and businesses turn out in their best floats for the 4th of July parade. Kids, parents and others all line the streets and wave to the float riders passing by. Miss South Dakota even usually comes! Immediately following the parade, the community picnic begins at the Mueller Civic Center and is followed in turn by the Firequacker (get it?) Duck Race, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Hundreds of little rubber ducks (appropriately wearing Uncle Sam top hats) are poured into Fall River and everyone comes to watch and see whose duck comes in first and wins the grand prize!  Then a good old-fashioned demolition derby takes place at the city materials recovery facility along the Hwy 18 Bypass and just shortly after dusk, fireworks are launched in a stunning display. If you’re visiting the Black Hills during the 4th of July – make a plan to come to Hot Springs and experience it with The Veterans Town!

Kids race to collect the rubber ducks in the duck race. We thought about changing it to the "Super-quak-a-splash-a-riffic-expa-yellow Duck Race" but it didn't quite fit on the ads, so it's the FireQuacker!

2. Miss South Dakota Pageant, June 18-20, Numerous events

Of all the Miss America-associated pageants, Miss South Dakota is the only pageant that has remained in the same city since its inception and Hot Springs proudly welcomes in a bevy of beautiful, intelligent and extremely talented young women for a week and makes them feel at home. The pageant contestants visit veterans at the VA and State Home as well as make appearances elsewhere in the community throughout the week, then the competition gets underway in the evening events, which are high-caliber productions that are stunning and even emotional. Hot Springs is proud to be home to the Miss South Dakota Pageant and if you’re in town that week, you do NOT want to miss a night of it! Learn more at the pageant’s official website.

Miss South Dakota

1. Main Street Arts & Crafts Festival, June 26-28

The Main Street Arts & Crafts Festival began in Hot Springs in 1976, a dream project of local business owners Art and Beulah Donnell, to showcase the work of local and regional artisans. Hot Springs’s Centennial Park, downtown across from City Hall, was chosen for its length, similar to a street (hence the name Main Street). In its earliest years, only local artists participated, but as it grew, it has expanded to include artisans – who must produce handcrafted, not commercial or machine-made crafts – from across the Midwest region and draws in hundreds of people for a three-day showcase of art, food, music, activities and more. At many times, the festival has taken place the same weekend as Miss SD and the contestants appear for photos and autographs. This is a favorite event of so many, and is sure to be a great event in summer 2015. Learn more at the Main Street Arts & Crafts official website.

Main Street Arts Crafts Festival - Hot Springs

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Hot Springs’ Best & Most Underrated City Parks

‎Tuesday, ‎April ‎28, ‎2015, ‏‎10:52:54 AM | Justin GausmanGo to full article

Every great town or city has a city park. Some are larger with full on outdoor sports facilities, some are smaller with little playgrounds, and some are just plots of land a municipality doesn’t know what else to do with. Lucky for us here in Hot Springs, we have a ton of amazing city parks; the disappointing part? A lot of people who visit Hot Springs, even regularly from around the Black Hills, don’t even know they exist, which is a shame, because they’re beautiful! Join us as we count down Hot Springs’ city parks!

Located Across from City Hall, North River Street

Centennial Park is the celebrated town center. Every June, the Main Street Arts & Crafts Festival brings hundreds of people to downtown Hot Springs with dozens of vendors, music, and more. Other events held here in the past have included Honoring Our Heroes, in honor of our veterans, and the Fall Festival.

Lying prominently along the Fall River Freedom Trail walking path, Centennial Park is probably the most visited park in Hot Springs by virtue of being smack in the middle of downtown, allowing access to the waterfall for photo ops, Kidney Springs for a drink of the natural warm mineral spring water, to the downtown shops & restaurants, and to a historic mural nearby on the American Legion building.


Located on South River Street

We’ve talked before about people asking “where can we access the warm spring water?” If you ask a local, you’re probably going to get one of two answers: Evans Plunge or Brookside Park. Much like Centennial Park, Brookside lies quietly along the Fall River Freedom Trail but is tucked quietly away behind the nearby Brookside Apartments. This makes it an uncommon visit for anyone but the locals, who love this “hidden” swimming hole. Hot Springs’ famous ducks are a common sight here and across the river, deer are not uncommon in the mornings or evenings.

Families often picnic here the old-fashioned way – on a blanket while the kids swim in the deeper and shallower spots of Fall River. There are a couple picnic tables and a small playground but everyone really comes for the water. The busiest time of the year for Brookside is the Independence Day FireQuacker Duck Race, put on by the Chamber of Commerce, in which hundreds of little rubber duckies float down the river and people flock (no pun intended) to the finish line near Brookside Park to see whose duck comes in first.


2 Mins. North of Evans Plunge on Hot Brook Canyon Road

Scenic Chautauqua Park, so named for the old-time adult education seminar programs, known as Chautauquas, that used to be hosted here in the early 20th century, offers two playground areas and both covered and uncovered picnic areas, as well as access to Fall River’s warm waters. A beautifully crafted stone bridge crosses the river, allowing you to dip your feet in the water and the red rock canyon walls contrast with the natural landscape below.

Numerous weddings, birthday parties, reunions and more take place here every year and it’s no surprise once you’ve visited – but the real surprise is that most people haven’t! Chautauqua Park is serene, romantic and stunning and we’re proud to be home to it.


Corner of School Street and Cold Brook Avenue

Just a minute north of Evans Plunge via Cold Brook Avenue, School Street Park is probably one of Hot Springs’ least recognized or talked about parks but offers a great playground for kids and picnic tables.

What we like best about School Street Park? Shade. The trees offer a cool respite from the hot South Dakota summer sun in a natural way that parks like Chautauqua, Centennial and Brookside simply cannot match.

school street

Between 11th & 14th Street

Almost everybody who’s lived in Hot Springs has a great Butler Park memory; be it watching fireworks on the 4th of July from the picnic areas to playing on the playground (as a kid, taking your own kids, or in some cases both!), to that tense last inning of the home baseball game.

Yet somehow Butler Park is almost completely missed by most visitors unless they’ve got a sporting event they’re specifically going to, in spite of Butler being the biggest and arguably best park in Hot Springs.

Butler Park was originally built as a horse race track, believe it or not, before becoming an official city park and since then has expanded to include the playground, basketball hoops, tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, walking/biking trails, a skate park, picnic shelters and outdoor grills, all near the spectacular scenery of the Seven Sisters range and Battle Mountain. Its close proximity to the Hot Springs Public Library also enhances its position, and it’s not far from The Mammoth Site, either.

There’s no better place to enjoy outdoors sports in town than Butler Park. If you’re planning to visit Hot Springs this summer, make sure to take time to visit a city park so you can appreciate how different our parks are from other communities’ as much as we do!

Butler Park in Hot Springs

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Top 5 Places to See the Springs in Hot Springs

‎Thursday, ‎April ‎16, ‎2015, ‏‎12:14:21 PM | Mark LewandowskiGo to full article

The #1 Question asked at our local attractions and visitor information center is, of course, “where are the springs in Hot Springs?” We’ve compiled this handy-dandy list of the best places to find the natural warm mineral spring water that has soothed generations.


Location: Minnekahta Avenue/Near Kidney Springs

Minnekahta Springs, once an open-air bathhouse, is currently under development and is inaccessible while under construction, but you can see the massive amounts of water flowing out into Fall River on the western retaining wall opposite Kidney Springs. In the near future, Minnekahta Springs will be open again for visitors!



Location: 6 miles S. of Hot Springs on Hwy 71/Cascade Road

On the way to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, there’s a small park and picnic area on the east side of the road about 10 miles out. Marked by a sign and a gateway and operated by the US Forest Service, Cascade Springs, the largest single springs in the Black Hills, is one of the few springs in the Hot Springs area still in a more “natural” environment.

From underneath a gazebo, Cascade Springs flows out at a constant 67°F on two sides – one into a fountain, one into a small viewing area. Swimming is not typically permitted at the spring source – but you can drive about another 2 miles south on Hwy 71 to visit Cascade Falls, the “old swimming hole” to swim!

TIP FROM THE LOCALS: While at Cascade, you should be cautious about where you step and what you touch. Poison ivy grows in abundance near the spring and there is always a possibility of a rattlesnake during warmer months. Stay on established trails and have a ton of fun!

Keith Park


Location: N. River St/North End of Fall River Freedom Trail

Under a plain white gazebo designed in 1927 (and refurbished in 2014), topped with a gorgeous sculpture by local artist Michael Tuma known as “The Gift,” you will find the small and simple Kidney Springs. For generations, Kidney Springs has been a source for many locals’ drinking water and today you may still find folks filling their water jugs or bottles, and you’re welcome to do the same. Kidney Springs’s water is crystal clear and full of minerals – a nearby sign indicates the chemical analysis of the water.

FUN FACT: Kidney Springs was once named Hygieia Springs for the Greek goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation!

Kidney Springs


Location: S. River St./Fall River Freedom Trail/Hot Brook Canyon Road

Of all the mineral spring water in Hot Springs, Fall River is easily the most noticeable. Running the entire length of Hot Springs, Fall River is the lifeblood of the community. The Fall River Freedom Trail follows it for a one-mile stretch and through two city parks: Centennial Park and Brookside Park. At the latter, you’re encouraged to find the deeper spots and soak in the warm water of the river and at Chautuaqua Park north of Evans Plunge, you’re welcome to do the same. A favorite local pastime: sitting on the bridge at Chautauqua Park and dipping just your feet in.

Wildlife love Fall River as much as humans do; Ducks and deer are common sights along the riverbed, and you can spot fish and occasional turtles in the water in the warmer months. In the wintertime, the river never freezes and the steam coming off the river is one of the most beautiful sights Hot Springs has to offer.

BEST PHOTO OP: Be sure to take a selfie or a family photo at the waterfall. Best time to take pics: early morning when the sun first hits the waterfall, or nighttime, when we’ve got it lit up colorfully.



Location: 1145 N. River St

The world’s largest natural warm water indoor swimming pool takes the top spot on our list of places to experience the “minnekahta” while in Hot Springs. Built in 1890 by local businessman Frederick T. Evans, the Evans Plunge is the Black Hills’ oldest attraction, older than Crazy Horse or Mt. Rushmore by decades, and continues to offer the same relaxation and recreation for all ages, all year round.

Over 5,000 gallons a minute flows through Evans Plunge from one massive thermal spring at the north side of the pool as well as several smaller springs at a consistent 87°F. Kids and adults alike can partake in fun activities like water slides, volleyball, basketball, lap swimming, “Tarzan” rings, as well as relax in the health club with a sauna, steam room, and hot tubs. An outdoor pool, open in the warmer months, is filled with the same natural warm spring water and offers beautiful views of Battle Mountain, Battle Mountain Sanitarium National Historic Landmark, and Fall River.

Evans Plunge

TIP FROM THE LOCALS: Be sure to bring your receipt from a local hotel or motel – it nets you a 25% discount on admission. Also, go early in the morning when there are fewer people, then go out for the day and come back in the evening after dinner to relax – admission is good all day.