South Dakota has a lot of beautiful scenery, but the most beautiful drive in the state through Spearfish Canyon on U.S. Highway 14A or better known as the Spearfish Canyon scenic byway. The first time I went through it was in 2011, we drove from Spearfish to Deadwood. It was so beautiful I wanted to drive it again. Finally this past May I got my chance. This time we went from Lead to Spearfish, opposite of last time but still gorgeous.
I’m going to take you from Spearfish to Lead and on to Deadwood in this writing. Spearfish is a cute small town, founded in 1876, it’s located at the mouth of Spearfish Canyon. There are plenty of historic buildings and different places to eat along with the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. So after you have explored the town, jump on US Highway 14A and head south. You don’t go far before Spearfish Creek appears on the side of the road. This creek will follow along the canyon for the entire journey and there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy it’s beauty. This drive has many curves but none really tight like Iron Mountain or The Needles, this is a gentle cruise.
The first waterfall along the route is Bridal Veil Falls, this is a beautiful waterfall that flows right from the mountains with a long drop to Spearfish Creek. Next stop you will see is Devil’s Bathtub Trailhead. Sadly I didn’t get to do this yet, I saw the sign but knew nothing about it until later. It’s a hike up the creek to a rock pool, “the devil’s bathtub”. I will go back and try the hike. Another trail that I didn’t hike because I didn’t know about it is the Iron Creek Trail. This trail leads to Iron Creek Lake. Looks long but possibly beautiful. Then after a bit more of a drive you come to Spearfish Falls. It’s near Spearfish Canyon Lodge and is a short hike to see another good-sized waterfall.
It’s also at this point you can take a short trip to Roughlock Falls, I’ll talk about that next week. the next stop down the line is at Old Spearfish Creek Dam. This is small lake has some of the clearest water I have ever seen. You can see the bottom of the lake with all of the fish swimming around. This is a very popular place for fishing in the canyon. The small falls on the north side of the lake create photogenic rapids.
More gentle curves take you to the end of the canyon. But right before, stop at the next small pond. The water here is clear as well and with pine trees in the background, it makes a wonderful place for pictures.
Next turn back to the east and head to Lead and Deadwood. Lead was founded in 1876 as a company town for the Homestake Mine. You can see the hole left in the earth there as well as visit the Black Hills Mining Museum. Then on to Deadwood with historic downtown, homes, and Mount Moriah Cemetery. Deadwood was also founded in 1876 but had a lawless existence for many years, notably the place where Wild Bill Hickok was killed on Aug 2, 1876. Plenty to do and see on this drive. Hope you enjoy it.