“Sitting under the willow with red wine and cheese. Fished the stream this morning — water was clear and cool. Five very healthy trout of good size were caught and returned. No need to go touring — this is as good as it gets.”
So wrote “Paul” of New Zealand of his stay at Willow Springs Bed & Breakfast in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Paul is not unusual. Although Willow Springs is centrally located in the Black Hills and within easy driving distance of the area’s major lakes and wonders such as Mount Rushmore and the massive mountain carving of Crazy Horse, many of its guests spend more time at the B&B than anywhere else. The beauty and seclusion of Willow Springs, the peace and quiet, are a tonic for those who live most of their year run ragged in the workaday world.
Willow Springs has been owned and operated by Joyce Payton and her husband, Russ, for 25 years. It is built on land whose ownership reaches well more than 100 years into the history of the Black Hills and Russ’s pioneer family.
Russ is a skilled cabinet builder and constructed, of locally harvested pine, the main house and the two cabins. One of the cabins is made of logs that Russ salvaged from an old house that had been built by the WPA. The other is sided with rough lumber that complements its rugged surroundings. The interiors of both cabins are done in appropriate rustic modes but are totally modern with sparkling fixtures.
Joyce is recognized throughout the area as a gourmet cook, and every morning she shows off her art as she takes a basket filled with breakfast goodies such as just baked rhubarb muffins to each cabin. You don’t have to trek to the main house for breakfast; you dine in the peace and privacy of your own retreat.
I will never forget our first visit to Willow Springs. It was hot that day in nearby Rapid City, but as we drove southwest out of town on Sheridan Lake Road into the Black Hills, the temperature began to fall, and in only a few miles it was 10 degrees cooler. It took 15 minutes to drive to Willow Springs. We dropped off the highway, following the Willow Springs sign, and, on a gravel trail just wide enough for one car, we descended sharply into a narrow, pine-clad canyon. In less than a minute we came to the main house and noticed the temp had fallen another 10 degrees. The cool, pure air was delicious. We feared Joyce would think we were nuts — standing there in her yard, eyes half closed and breathing deeply. We needn’t have worried. She told us it was a common reaction among her guests.
That night, we tried out the hot tub set a few feet from the cabin and gaped at the huge stars in the black, black sky. No light pollution there, cradled as we were by canyon walls. If the Garden of Eden had been in a forest of ponderosa pine, it might have been like this.
In the morning, overly fortified by a memorable breakfast, we walked a path through the forest and came upon a stream tumbling from the mountains above.
And right in the middle was a pond that beckoned us to take a dip. We briefly lamented not having swimming suits, but then it dawned us that there was not another person anywhere near. So, what the heck. . . .
Willow Springs is open until November, and now is the time to make your reservations. To learn more about Willow Springs, you can chat with Joyce by calling 605-342-3665. Or you can email email@example.com. The website is http://www.willowspringscabins.com. Or Like them on Facebook.