Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

Adiantum capillus-veneris, southern maidenhair fern.
Adiantum capillus-veneris (southern maidenhair fern), plant species of local concern on Black Hills National Forest, along Cascade Creek. Black Hills National Forest staff photo.

the entrance to J. H. Keith Park at Cascade Springs.
Entrance to J. H. Keith Park at Cascade Springs. Black Hills National Forest staff photo.

Epipactis gigantea (stream orchid).
Epipactis gigantea (stream orchid), Rocky Mountain Region sensitive plant species, along Cascade Creek on Black Hills National Forest. Black Hills National Forest staff photo.

Cascade Springs, Creek, and Falls

Forest: Black Hills National Forest

District: Hell Canyon Ranger District

Description: Cascade Creek in southwestern South Dakota originates at Cascade Springs, the largest single springs in the Black Hills with water emerging at 22.5 cubic ft (0.6 cubic m) per second at a constant 67º F (19.4º C) from six known discharge points (Hornbeck et al. 2003). The Black Hills National Forest manages land adjacent to Cascade Creek in two areas: J.H. Keith Park Cascade Springs Picnic Ground and Cascade Falls Picnic Ground, located approximately 6 and 8 miles, respectively, south of Hot Springs, South Dakota on SD Highway 71. The Black Hills National Forest picnic areas are surrounded by private land and The Nature Conservancy’s Whitney Preserve.

Human disturbance has played a prominent role in the recent history of Cascade Springs. The resort town of Cascade Springs was founded in 1888 just south of the springs, which were used as commercial mineral spas until shortly after the turn of the century. Both Cascade Springs and Cascade Falls have continued to be used recreationally by the public since that time. In 1962, the lands containing Cascade Springs and Cascade Falls were donated to the USFS. Fire, flooding, and wildlife use have also been important historic disturbances to the Cascade Creek system.

Viewing Information: Cascade Creek has been recognized for many years as an interesting biological feature, including several rare plant species that are only found in South Dakota at this location due to the availability of year-round open water. These species include tulip gentian (Eustoma grandiflorum), beaked spikerush (Eleocharis rostellata), southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris), and stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea).

Safety First: Cascade Falls and Springs both have gravel or concrete pathways and are just a few minutes walk from the parking areas. There is a stairway down a steep bank to Cascade Falls, where swimming is allowed. Swimming is not permitted in Cascade Springs. Be aware that poison ivy is abundant in some areas adjacent to Cascade Creek, and there is always the possibility of a prairie rattlesnake. Please stay on established trails.

Directions: J.H. Keith Park Cascade Springs Picnic Ground and Cascade Falls Picnic Ground are located approximately 6 and 8 miles, respectively, south of Hot Springs, South Dakota on South Dakota Highway 71.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Black Hills National Forest, Hell Canyon Ranger District, (307) 746-2782.

Closest Town: Hot Springs, South Dakota.