Moccasin Springs: Rising from the Ruins

A personal quest for healing combined with a background in property management, sales and investments and real estate renovations uniquely prepared Moccasin Springs owner Kara Hagen to revitalize and reopen a geothermal hot spring located in the scenic Black Hills. 

When Kara Hagen first laid eyes on Moccasin Springs in Hot Springs, South Dakota, it was in ruins. All that was left of the 1890 Minnekahta Bathhouse and Hot Springs Hotel was the ragged remnants of a concrete foundation and crumbling rock walls. Deemed a hazard and officially closed in 1963, the buildings were torn down. A roofless skeleton of the structure was all that remained. “There were huge trees growing out of the middle of pools,” Hagen explained, describing the state of the property in 2014. 

Making the Past Present 

In addition to the restoration of the mineral springs, it was equally important to Hagen to recognize the resort’s connection with the area’s Native American ancestryIn tributethe resort’s namesakeMoccasin Springswas the original moccasin-shaped pool carved out of red sandstone and used by indigenous people. “It was important to me for the resort to be reflective of its past and give it back its namesake.” 

Reclaimed, Repurposed, Revitalized 

To visit Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa today is to get a glimpse of the vision that kept Hagen focused for almost five years before opening in May of 2019. It’s a transformation continues to evolve; a work in progress. 

The resort, tucked on a hillside surrounded by pines, is a blend of rustic and modern aesthetics, featuring four warm spring pools that range in temperature from 88°F to 102°F (31°C to 39°C). Rather than scrapping everythingwhich would have been the easier option, Hagen chose to use the remains of the former Minnekahta Bathhouse and Open Air Plunge, along with the Hot Springs Hotel, as the setting for her mineral pools. A team of expert contractors, from excavators to plumbershelped make it a reality.  

Among the most charming aspects of Moccasin Springs is that visitors can swim through the brick archway of an old window. “When I swam through the window arch, I realized it was the first time anyone had done that since the year I was born,” Hagen said. “I really feel blessed with the steps I’ve taken to get it where it is today,” she said. “It’s all working out beautifully. 

A Modern Wellness Spa 

“Partly because of my own health struggles, I wanted Moccasin Springs to be a center for health and wellness—a spa environment that is simultaneously earthy and upscale, where people feel pampered and are inspired to begin or continue their journey of healing,” Hagen said.  

In addition to soaking in the mineral springs, guests can partake in other therapeutic activities including yoga, massage and spa packages. With new, spacious and modern facilities, the resort is ideal for wellness retreats and workshops. Other amenities include the Buffalo Dreamera restaurant specializing in food alchemy and organic, farm-to-table cuisine. There’s also limited accommodations at four cabins located on nearby Bluebird Mesa. Moccasin Springs is open May through December. 

Learn more at MoccasinSprings.com. 

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