As any such horror story begins, it’s usually a place, something that draws the person in. Next comes what happened at that place. Whether it be a curse, a murder or some other tragic accident. Then again sometimes nothing happens. Often it’s just a story made up to create a scare. Hauntings are a common thread among stories. Looking through the history of terror, all bad things seem to come at night. During the day seems to be a safe haven. Every once in awhile a tale comes forth where there is no safe time. This story contains all of those and then some. You must be aware that the Devil’s Water isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t something you should come upon to just have fun if you know of the tales. With that being said, not everyone knows, to some it is just a beautiful hiking trail. A spot for the whole family to explore.
The Devil’s Water is actually called the Devil’s Bathtub. It’s nestled in the heart of Spearfish Canyon. A glimpse in any direction while driving and you can see there is no lack of potential adventure. Trails go for miles and miles in all directions. Tourists fill the roads each year. Coming from coast to coast. There isn’t a bad time of the year to come. Spring the trees are starting to bloom and fill the canyon. Summertime the possibilities are endless. Fall and winter create colors beyond imagination and turn everything into icicles. Numerous waterfalls, thousand foot high cliffs and beauty that even the Lord himself would be jealous of at times.
About ten minutes into Spearfish Canyon is a turnoff for Cleopatra Place. The ancient Egyptian, Cleopatra, loved to make an entrance. Boasting about her greatness and how gorgeous she claimed to be. It seems fitting that the road where the path begins to such a beautiful spot would be called the same name. Beauty is what brings you in but fear is what will make you leave. A fear of something surrounding you. Grabbing at your feet in the water. Hearing whispers echo off the walls in the canyon. Turning daylight into night and losing track of time. Being scared can have a profound effect on how you go about your life.
The hike isn’t to treacherous. You’ll have to cross the stream a few times and chances of getting wet are substantial. Fallen trees make for decent bridges but the water isn’t that deep, so to save yourself from some broken ankles, probably best just to cross through the stream. It’s best to wear some form of hiking shoes or boots.The Devil’s Water sits deep in the canyon. If it wasn’t for avid adventurist, chances are high, this place may never have been found. A lucky stumble or a smart hiker is how it was found. I’m sure to the creature that resides there, it would’ve preferred it that way. Along the trail is every type of towering tree, larger than life boulders and as you get closer, the warm rushing water. Everyone has their theory as to why the water is warm. As you draw closer it comes almost sauna like. Wonderful to lounge in and terrifying to feel if you know of the stories.
There are many speculations as to why it’s called “The Devil’s Water” or “The Devil’s Bathtub”. Some believe it’s a ominous name that people gave it many decades ago. Other’s think it’s located on top of the gates of hell. Giving the reason as to why the water is hot. There are those that have seen and know about the creature that lives there. Creature isn’t quite the proper term, monster would be more fitting. Some would even go as far as demon. Let’s not get too scared just yet. After all this is just a story…or is it.
When you draw closer to the Devil’s Water everything becomes more vibrant. It’s hard to believe that’s possible with everything that you’ve seen up until that point. The rocks begin to turn less jagged, more smooth and curved, almost like the water formed them that way. The trees are split in just a way that the sun shines directly through into the swimming hole. At night when the moon is at it’s fullest, it brings out ancient sayings that surround the “tub”, only visible for a few hours. This only happens once a month and if you’re not there at just the right time you’ll miss it.
The monster has never killed anyone. There has never been a report of a missing person’s case or even a scratch in the trees or walls. It really makes one wonder what was this old wives tale all about. Is it just the fear that gets put into your head and your brain processes the illusions that make you see the monster.
Was it something bigger and more deep. Maybe the monster wasn’t found but let certain people see it. Select few, that possessed certain traits, the demon would show himself to them. There is another thought that those people were troubled and thought about vandalism. A problem in modern society. The monster revealed himself to them and scared them into a padded room or on to the right path in their lives.
The smooth rocks that surrounded the tub were actually the gates into the layer. A slide is formed out of the rocks that you can go down and splash into the water. This is were the children like to play and the parents enjoy watching. Just beyond the tub a hundred yards further is a small cave. If you blink you’ll miss it. Bushes surround the entrance but if you look just right you can see the opening above the bushes. After venturing in, there is a fire pit that sits in the middle. The fire logs are always stacked as if someone is getting ready to make a fire. It’s said the ancient natives would go in there and sacrifice an animal to the demon that lived down in the water. This would keep him at bay and from terrorizing their tribe. This went on for decades. One generation of natives decided enough was enough. They were tired of appeasing the demon. No more sacrificing was done.
The cave was blocked off and never looked at again. Of course this is were the horrors begin to happen. This is like all old tales you see that have been passed down from generations before. Most people don’t know of this because it’s ancient. Stories get shared and some things change while others are forgotten or left out. It’s possible there never was a sacrifice done but maybe…just maybe…there is some truth to it.
The creature, monster or demon, whatever you prefer to call it, is quite the site if it ever reveals itself. Looking like a gargoyle but with octopus like arms. Venturing to guess it’s arms are like that to help it swim around in it’s hell like tub. The build of the monster is that of a body builder. Strong and masculine…it looks like the hulk but can swim through the water like aqua man. It’s skin looked like dark grey scales but were leathery. The demon had no hair, just a smooth head, lime green and yellow eyes. Every feature was large and frightening. The tail was six feet long on it’s own. It stood at over nine feet tall. When the monster looked directly into the eyes of a human it would send terrorizing thoughts rushing through their head. This did more damage to someone then any physical harm ever could. Memories become haunted and trying to sleep at night was virtually impossible. This kept people up for weeks on end. Sleeping pills, alcohol and every other over the counter drug you can find wasn’t enough to wipe the images out of someone’s head. It never leaves the surroundings of it’s home. Staying within looking distance of its watering hole and never wandering. No one knows why but some say it is the gatekeeper to hell. Serving the devil and keeping watch until the time comes to releases hell’s monsters unto the world. If the monster leaves it’s post the devil will bring him back down and keep him locked away for eternity.
All of this of course is if you want to believe in the old tales. They say it is just a story… Monsters, goblins and every other frightening image that keeps little children up at night. Do monsters really exist? Should we be afraid of them? Well that is up in the air for you to decide. The stories are out there and the sightings have been made. Taking into account more than one person has a story of what they’ve seen. All relating back to the same spot in the same area, The Devil’s Water. I suppose on one hand the legends are fun to read about and to adventure to where they’ve been told. Making your mark. Saying you’ve been there and lived to tell the tale. On the other hand it is a do at your own risk, especially having been warned and told about what lies in the woods. Then again…a little fear never hurt anyone…or did it?