There is a unique place in South Dakota that combines rugged limestone cliffs, rushing waterfalls, and a forest-lined creek. Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills has been a long time Great Place in South Dakota.
Frank Lloyd Wright described Spearfish Canyon as “unique and unparalleled to elsewhere in the country,” when he visited in September 1935. At that time, he followed the railroad track through the canyon, which has since been abandoned. By 1950, there was a smooth roadway that is now known as Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, part of the National Scenic Byway system.
Along the 22-mile byway, visitors will find a forest of spruce, pine, aspen, birch and oak trees that cover hillsides along Spearfish Creek. The highlights for many are the waterfalls flowing from the cliff-sides; Bridal Veil Falls, Spearfish Falls and Roughlock Falls.
There are several pull-offs along the highway to take advantage of the 360-degree view. Bikers, walkers, joggers, motorists and motorcyclists all share this road, which tops out at a speed limit of 35. Often times, travelers go slower because of the ever-changing, interesting view.
Inside the canyon are several hiking trails including Iron Creek and Eleventh Hour Gulch in the side canyons. While the Canyon is continuously lush and green during the spring and summer months, it’s just as beautiful to visit during the fall when the leaves are changing color. Winter months provide for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, frozen waterfall photography and more.
Travelers can access Spearfish Canyon via Exit 10 or 14 off Interstate 90 in Spearfish. Or, to enter at the southern end, turn at Cheyenne Crossing outside of Lead at the intersection of Highway 85.