Hidden in the northwest corner of Hot Springs, South Dakota, is a unique and interesting place. Chautauqua Park is a beautiful spot, divided in half by Hot Brook Canyon Road into upper and lower sections. There's also a wide gravel path that provides access to the park from Cold Brook Avenue to the east.
The upper parking area is a large loop with plenty of space and easy access in and out. The northern portion of the park has beautiful rock work and a red cliff backdrop that makes for a striking location. The naturally warm Fall River flows through Upper Chautauqua Park and beside the gravel trail. We crossed an interesting stone bridge to where green grass was waiting for us.
Footpaths ran along the base of the cliffs. These were great for exploring in cool weather, but we probably wouldn't have been so adventurous in the summer time when things like snakes might become a concern. The girls had a fun time exploring the terrain, although the loose rocks were a bit troublesome at times.
The warm river flowed through the park with plenty of opportunities to play in the water. Maggie was the only one who felt like dipping their paws in. Afterwards she happily rolled in the grass while Ursa watched the river (which is really more of a large creek) flowing by.
Behind the creek is the gravel path that leads back to Cold Brook Avenue. It's a short and easy trail that follows the river and canyon wall. The girls liked this path; it was a pretty little walk.
When we reached the end of the trail we turned around and headed back the way we came, except this time we went to Lower Chautauqua Park. A big cliff wall made up the backside of this section too, as Chautauqua Park itself is nestled inside Hot Brook Canyon.
This side of the park saw far less sun than the upper side, and here there were little patches of snow leftover from the last storm. The remains of mysterious man-made stone structures were scattered all over this area. Large boulders were clumped together in a small formation, making enough room to explore between them. There was also a small playground and a long grassy section to sniff. We stopped at a picnic table for a water and treat break.
This entire park was really fantastic; we all had a great time here. Both sections have parking, although the upper park has much more room. There are picnic tables at both, and there is a large covered picnic shelter at Upper Chautauqua Park, where the restrooms are also located.
This is a gorgeous park with lots of room to explore. Very interesting stonework creates bridges, walls, and terraces. Hot Brook Canyon is stunning. This is a great place for a picnic, a dip in Fall River, or just to sniff around. It's out of the way but still on the edge of town. We really enjoyed this beautiful little park that's surrounded by towering red cliffs.