Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway throngs with summertime pleasure drivers. Thousand-foot-high limestone palisades in shades of brown, pink and gray tower to the right and left of Highway 14A as it twists through the 19-mile gorge.
The 22-mile journey begins at Exit 10 or Exit 14 off Interstate 90 in Spearfish and connects to the mouth of the canyon at the Spearfish Canyon Country Club. From the other end, turn at Cheyenne Crossing outside of Lead at the intersection of Highway 85. From there, travel 20 miles through some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ll find.
Spearfish Creek lines the canyon floor while canyon waterfalls make for popular roadside attractions. Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls are must-sees along the route. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour, but you’ll find so many drivers enthralled by the beauty, they drive even slower. Others simply pull over at one of the dozens of pull-offs along the way and get out to stretch their legs and capture the perfect Kodak moment.
The red brick walls and large plate windows of the Maurice Hydro Power Plant about midway through the Canyon offer a reminder of the Homestake Gold Mine operation in Lead, just a few miles up the road.
Other stops along the way are Spearfish Canyon Lodge and the Latchstring Restaurant. Visit Cheyenne Crossing Store at the other end of the Canyon and browse the gift shop or eat lunch in the award-winning café.
Hikers enjoy exploring the side canyons like Iron Creek or Eleventh Hour Gulch, aptly named because it only gets one hour of sunlight a day; and bicyclists love the wide shoulders and uniform 3% grade of the road. Bicycling Magazine has named Spearfish Canyon one of the top 50 scenic bike paths in the country.
Famous for its beauty, Spearfish Canyon was the location for several scenes in the movie epic, “Dances With Wolves.” The site is on Forest Road 222 about three miles upstream from Spearfish Canyon Resort.
Spearfish Canyon is a beautiful drive any time of year, but Fall offers the most colorful drive through the Canyon, as Mother Nature paints the leaves in shades of yellow, gold and red to accent the evergreen backdrop. The changing of the leaves normally peaks during the first week of October. As the elevation changes nearly 2,000 feet from one end of the Canyon to the other, the weather and the stage of changing leaves can vary. It is best to call ahead if you’re headed into the higher elevations during the Fall, winter or spring months.
Experience the nature, history and adventure of the Black Hills with a drive on the beautiful Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.
Photos courtesy of Synergy 79 Studios LLC, Professional Photography - Rapid City, South Dakota