Stepping into Akela Spa of Deadwood is like stepping into a world where problems are few, and silence and relaxation are plentiful. Many call that heaven, others may call that a typical experience at Akela, which has the mantra, “Where serenity is indigenous.”

Often described as a sanctuary, Akela has called Deadwood its home since December of 2013. Owner Kimberly Rupp has been in the healthcare industry for much of her life, starting off her career as a nurse, and finally settling into a career as the owner of a spa. Rupp describes how spa getaways should be a routine part of a healthy lifestyle.

“Massages have many health benefits, which include pain relief, improving range of motion, increasing circulation, reducing stress and anxiety, and helping the body detox to get rid of waste,” Rupp said. “Studies have shown how stress negatively impacts our health and quality of life. Because of the tranquility and peaceful environment, it’s a great place to meditate and refresh your spirit.”

Rupp drew inspiration from South Dakota’s indigenous history, and found a meaningful name they wanted translated into the aesthetic of the spa.

“We found the Lakota phrase ‘Abla Kela,’ meaning ‘calm,’ and we made the word Akela from that,” Rupp said. “We had the privilege of having a Native American artist visit the spa, and he told us Akela also meant ‘welcome.’”

Noticing the lack of day spas in the tourist-attracted area, Rupp was motivated to create a space in the Black Hills that could extend a hand to those visiting by offering an option that strays away from the busy, emphasizing that vacation should be relaxing and restorative.

Akela has created a calm and welcoming atmosphere that offers dozens of services that will suit anyone that steps foot on the spa’s intimate grounds one mile east of Deadwood. Some highlights include a full-service locker room with Kashwere robes and Oka-B slippers, a relaxation room, and lunch from The Lodge at Deadwood (if requested) that offers 11 different wines and four types of beer.

The infrared sauna is also available, which Amy Wismann of Akela says is great for relief from achy muscles and joints, to detox from a night of celebration, or to simply warm up.

When Rupp and her husband started brainstorming the aesthetic of Akela, they decided to hire consultants to bring their vision to life. They hired Sam Marguiles, an international spa consultant, to design the peaceful space.

“At the time, Sam only took on 15 projects a year. We were fortunate to catch him in between projects in China and India,” Rupp said. “When he was finished, Christi Cano was then hired, who was named the number-one spa consultant from the American Spa Magazine in 2014, 2015, and 2017.”

The spa doesn’t only reside inside the walls of the building, but it also exists outside in the co-ed, year-round Akela Garden, the “crown jewel” of Akela Spa. The Garden is an area that has steam rooms, a dry sauna inside of a tipi, jacuzzis, and fire pits to further the relaxing experience.

“Many actually find [the garden] more enjoyable the colder it is,” Wismann continued, “and snow is another bonus.”

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Before Akela, Rupp had visited many spas, and strived to make an experience at Akela unique and one that would fit many different needs.

“You would be pretty hard pressed to find anything like Akela Spa between Denver and Minneapolis,” Rupp said. “We are a legitimate spa. The name ‘spa’ has been so overused that the word doesn’t justify what we really offer. It’s truly an experience and offers the relaxation that many ‘spas’ do not.”

With dozens of services and seven treatment rooms, Akela specializes in anything from pregnancy massages to facials to manicures and pedicures to even a hair “spalon.” From head to toe, expect that Akela has got what you need to center yourself in restoration of mind, body, and soul.

Akela is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, or to book your appointment, call (605) 578-1180 or visit

Amenity Highlights

Turquoise Sage Body Scrub

Chai Spice & Vanilla Virgin Coconut Body Polish

Lavender Sage Music Relief Massage

Wisdom of the Stones Massage

Akela Chakra Balancing Couple’s Massage

Men’s Fitness Treatment Facials

Abla Kela Calming Facials

Foot Loose Scrub

Silk Peel Diamond Dermal Infusion

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