Cascade Falls isn’t really much of a waterfall. Instead, it is a short series of pools and rapids on Cascade Creek. The small upstream pools are very clear and clean with swiftly flowing waters. They are no more than 3 or 4 feet deep. Just downstream of the small pools, Cascade Creek pours over a large fan-shaped mineral deposit 5 or 6 feet high into a big deep (over your head!) blue-green swimming hole. There are more large pools farther downstream, but unlike the clear upstream pools, they tend to be mucky. Very few tourists ever visit this remote location, but Cascade Falls is often busy with locals cooling off on hot summer days.
On 7-9-15, Xochitl flew in from Chicago. Lupe and SPHP picked her up at the Rapid City regional airport. She was in town for just a few days to visit friends and family. Her plans included spending July 11th at her class reunion at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and celebrating her birthday on July 12th with family and friends at Cascade Falls.
On 7-10-15, Xochitl and SPHP went for a hike from Sylvan Lake up to Little Devil’s Tower (6,960 ft.). This should have been Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 136 for Lupe, but sadly Lupe didn’t get to go. She had to stay home due to injuries sustained on Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 135 on 6-27-15. FrankenPuppy was a very dejected Dingo when SPHP told her she couldn’t come with. She had gotten all worked up when SPHP had started packing up the backpack. It really didn’t feel right at all to leave Lupe to mope on the floor, but it had to be done.
The trek to Little Devil’s Tower proved to be a bit more than Xochitl had been expecting (like twice as much) and the round trip on the trail took more like 4+ hours than the 2 hours she had allotted, but she made it. (SPHP’s fault for always being overly ambitious.) Xochitl went to her class reunion on the 11th.
The 12th was Xochitl’s birthday and the last full day she was going to be in the Black Hills. Since Lupe was soon going to get her staples and stitches out anyway on the 14th (which was days later than required by the veterinarians), SPHP decided Lupe may as well come with. There wasn’t going to be any long trek where Lupe might re-injure herself, just some wading and swimming. Lupe was ecstatic to be going anywhere! Once in the G6, SPHP allowed Guille to take Lupe’s head cone off too, and it stayed off for the rest of the outing. Loopster couldn’t believe her good luck – she was finally free of that torture device!
SPHP was somewhat reluctant to classify Lupe’s trip to Cascade Falls as one of her official Black Hills, SD Expeditions. All her other expeditions have involved hikes through the mountains. However, it wasn’t Lupe’s fault she got injured on Expedition No. 135. SPHP decided to relent and consider this mere outing an official expedition. Time to cut the wounded Carolina Dog a little slack! So worthy of the title or not, Cascade Falls officially became Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 136 for Lupe.
Lupe arrived at Cascade Falls around 11:30 AM. It was a hot, sunny day in the low 90’s – way too hot for a typical hiking expedition, but perfect for a day at Cascade. Xochitl, Guille, Erik, Ana, Steve & SPHP were all there with Lupe, plus a ton of strangers enjoying the falls too. There was a picnic with elk burgers, cherries, chips, lemonade, etc. Lupe just stuck to her Taste of the Wild – even turning down perfectly good elk burgers for it!
After the picnic, Erik & Ana weren’t into swimming or even wading and left long before the rest of the gang did. Lupe, SPHP and the rest of the gang made lots of treks back and forth from the picnic table down to the creek during the afternoon. Lupe had been to Cascade Falls before, but never to spend the day in the creek. She was having a good time, but sometimes seemed to be wondering what she was supposed to do or what was going to happen next.
Many strangers were very kind to Lupe. Some asked about her wound. Others wanted to pet her. Lupe enjoyed wading in the creek. She really didn’t want to swim though. She doesn’t like water over her head. Those dingo paws want to be on terra firma. She seemed genuinely concerned about Xochitl, Steve & SPHP whenever they swam in the big deep blue-green pool. That dingo wasn’t about to leap in to rescue any of them, though, unless they showed more signs of distress. American Dingoes aren’t fools, you know!
For Lupe, it was a most puzzling expedition. SPHP had never just hung out in the water before. And having all these people around was very strange, too. On the other hand, she loved the attention from everyone and seemed to enjoy being cool and partly wet. She was determined not to get completely wet, though. It was funny to watch her immediately leap out of the deep water whenever she stepped into a pool where it got up to her chest.
A little after 5:30 PM, it was time to leave Cascade Falls. Lupe was sleepy after all the activity and had a relaxing ride home in the G6. Back home, Xochitl became head chef for her own birthday dinner of curry chicken sweet potatoes. Steve, Erik & SPHP assisted to some degree. Although dinner turned out to be quite yummy, Lupe held out for cake and ice cream when it was all over.
Cascade Falls is easy to find. It is about 10 miles S of Hot Springs, SD on the W side of Hwy 71 (a mile N of the Cheyenne River) at the very S end of the Black Hills of South Dakota. On flat grassland overlooking the creek is a gravel parking lot, a few covered picnic tables, and a restroom. No water or other services are available. There are no fees or permits required. There is no lifeguard – just a delightful old-fashioned swim/wade at your own risk creek and swimming hole!
Cascade Creek originates just 2 or 3 miles upstream at a series of warm water springs (67°F). There is another picnic ground called Cascade Springs 2 miles closer to Hot Springs than Cascade Falls. That picnic ground is more shaded by trees and the creek flows through it, but there is no swimming hole there. Other attractions near Cascade Falls include the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Evans Plunge and the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD, and Wind Cave National Park N of Hot Springs.