Devil’s Bathtub is a Must See in the Black Hills
The Black Hills is an incredibly popular spot for vacationing during the pandemic. It's easy to stay away from people if you wish, and it's got lots of stuff to do and see. The best thing we saw without question was perhaps the world's oldest waterslide.
Devil's Bathtub is a natural swimming hole found eight miles up Spearfish Canyon from the town of Spearfish, hence the name.
I heard about it and knew several friends who had been there when I went to Black Hills State University twenty years ago, but I never made the hike myself. It was truly a local secret that was sort of ruined by Instagram and other social media smartphone apps. That increase in popularity lead to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks to put in a parking area in 2019 that took the traffic off of the road that leads to homes in the area and caused massive traffic jams.
The Bathtub is fed by Cleopatra Creek which has carved a path through the gorge over millions of years. The water is quite cold, even on a hot day. Swimming isn't so comfortable on a cool day, as one of my sons was really cold after getting out of the water and didn't bring himself a towel when the temperature was only in the upper 70s.
If you find yourself in the northern Black Hills its worth the couple of hours you'll spend there. Don't let the crowded parking lot scare you away. While it was quite full when we were there, the trail is long enough and big enough to spread people out comfortably.
There was some amount of crowding at the tub itself, but we didn't feel like we were being shoulder to shoulder with people.