There are many ways to experience the water (warm or cold!) in the Hot Springs area, but Cascade Falls is one of the more unique, must-do options if you like off-the-beaten-path experiences.
Located fifteen minutes south of Hot Springs on South Dakota Highway 71, Cascade Falls is a multi-level waterfall in Cascade Creek, which flows at 67º year-round.
A series of small waterfalls is separated by several pools of varying depths, the last of which is deep enough for jumping in from one edge.
The floors of the upper pool-like areas are smooth-ish rock, so it’s easy to walk on and find a place to sit down and relax in the sparkling clear water.
Adventurous swimmers enjoy jumping from the bank into the deepest pool, which we would estimate to be around eight feet deep at the part where we typically land (our foot or knees usually hit a rock at the bottom). It’s definitely not a place to jump in headfirst, as the depth varies quite a bit.
To get out of the main pool, you have to climb up the rock slab, which is not necessarily the easiest thing to do with some of the rocks being slippery due to water and moss. There’s also not really a place to get a leg up so you need to be prepared to use your arms a bit.
If you swim across the deepest pool, there’s another smaller pool and a couple of rock ledges that are nice for relaxing.
Past the last waterfall is a pond-like area, but we found that the rocks stopped and the bottom was “mushy”, which we are not fans of!
The creek is nestled into a small canyon, so it’s really not even visible when you pull up in the parking lot. Take the gravel pathway and some stairs down and you’ll find the creek. The area has several picnic sites and a pit toilet.
This is a popular spot on hot days, but doesn’t usually feel super crowded even with a mostly-full parking lot.