HOT SPRINGS, S.D. | After more than a half-century, Moccasin Springs – one of the Southern Hills’ historic bathhouses – is returning to life.
As legend has it, the original Moccasin Springs was favored by Native Americans who soaked in its healing waters. In 1890, the Minnekahta Bath House and Open Air Plunge opened at “the original Indian Springs that made this town famous.” In addition to its original red rock, moccasin-shaped, spring-fed pool, the site featured the four-story Hot Springs Hotel.
But the hotel’s interior burned in the late 1930s, and the Minnekahta Bath House was closed in the late 1940s due to rusty pipes and maintenance issues. Deemed a hazard by the city in the late 1950s, the property was sold, its buildings razed in 1963, and it has sat vacant for decades.
But, no longer.
After extensive construction and rejuvenation, on May 1 the Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa will return to its original glory at 1829 Minnekahta Ave. in Hot Springs. The new business, the brainchild of entrepreneur Kara Hagen, boasts a pool house with a gas fireplace, a bathhouse with natural mineral spring water, the Pool House Pool featuring the original moccasin-shaped, 93-degree water pool, and two mineral springs hot pools with temperatures ranging from 98 to 102 degrees.
In addition, a new main building includes a yoga studio with a fireplace, two massage rooms, a massage relaxation area, laundry, maintenance room, and a main entry with a fireplace and restaurant.
“Our goal is to create a tranquil environment where you can take a break from your busy life and relax in our natural mineral springs and spa,” said Hagen, who purchased the 11-acre property in 2014. “Moccasin Springs is an all-natural mineral springs and our pools continually flow so we don’t use chlorine to treat the water.”
Hagen said she was familiar with the property’s rich history when she joined an investor group and bought it in 2002. The group later sold the land, and when Hagen purchased a property up the street in 2014, she inquired about its status.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I made an offer and the owner accepted it,” she explained. Ever since, she and a team of tradesmen have been building, setting stone and making the new spa something of which she is quite proud.
“There’s really nothing like it anywhere,” she said. “This has been a remodel project essentially starting with ruins, but retaining as much of the historical features as we could. It has a unique past-meets-present feel. Moccasin Springs originally opened in 1890, attracting sojourners seeking health and wellness from around the globe. In 2019, it has been revived as a natural mineral spa to once again be a destination for its recuperative waters.”
In addition to its warm waters, the business will offer massage and spa treatments with sea salts and natural oil blends, Hagen noted. But another feature adds a different dimension to the establishment and has Hagen truly excited – a partnership with Rebecca Christensen, who is leasing a portion of the building built specifically for her Buffalo Dreamer, food alchemy restaurant.
“We are excited to have Rebecca’s amazing presence and wonderful culinary dining on site,” Hagen said.
Hagen, who also owns the FlatIron Historic Inn about six blocks from Moccasin Springs, as well as the Bluebird Mesa Cabins a mile away, is giving Black Hills residents a sneak-peak at the new business with an open house, tours of the property, and a sampling of food from Buffalo Dreamer from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 23.
“This is a beautiful blend of historical and modern setting, located in the sacred Southern Black Hills of South Dakota,” she said. “Our open house will give folks an opportunity to know what it’s all about prior to our May 1st opening. We’re extremely excited.”