Western Adventures: The Road to Deadwood and Spearfish

Spearfish Canyon, SD


My alarm buzzed me to life early on Saturday morning. After packing my car, I headed to the State Lodge Dining Room for a hearty breakfast. I savored the hot cup of coffee and buffet of homefries and bacon.

The staff at the Game Lodge was exceptional. The waitress asked for a copy of my new cozy romance, Solitude Lake. She enjoyed learning about the plot and we chatted about the park and fun things to do in South Dakota.

It was hard to say goodbye to Custer State Park- but I still had many miles to roam on my western adventure and the road was calling. By day’s end we’ll be in Cody, WY.

Leaving Custer and heading north towards Rapid City, I noticed the oil gauge was low on my rental. I called Alamo’s driver assistance and they said the oil didn’t need to be changed immediately and to drive. I debated going back to the airport to trade it out, but given their direction I decided to press on.

After studying the map, I set my GPS for Spearfish Canyon. Located just outside of the Lead/Deadwood areas, this scenic canyon boasts towering rocky cliffs and beautiful waterfalls. It is where a portion of Dancing with the Wolves was filmed.

While I’ve visited Deadwood and Lead before, I’ve never made the scenic drive through Spearfish Canyon. The route set me back a few hours, but I was willing to go off the beaten path for the unbridled canyon beauty.

From Rapid City, I followed the GPS directions to Deadwood. If I’d had more time, I would have stopped a spell to explore this historic Wild West town. Unfortunately I couldn’t gamble the time and had to bypass the walking tour of Deadwood.

I did take a few minutes to do a quick auto tour, driving past the historic Bullock Hotel and the spot where Wild Bill was shot. Stay tuned for a future blog focused on Deadwood. While hundreds came to Deadwood find gold and riches, today the treasure of Deadwood and neighboring Lead is the history and lively culture the communities provide tourists.

For more about Deadwood and Lead check out the following resources.

Deadwood Chamber

Bullock Hotel

Wild Bill – his death and legacy

Saloon No 10 – the site where Wild Bill was shot by the traitor Jack McCall

Lead Chamber

As the scenic highway twisted and turned from Lead into the entrance of the Spearfish Canyon area, my heart pounded and I held my breath. The beauty is astounding. As I search for words to describe the magnificence of the canyon -words fall short. God’s grace is painted in the thousand foot high limestone palisades in hues of brown, gray and soft pink hues.

“But how is it that I’ve heard so little of this miracle and we, toward the Atlantic, have heard so much of the Grand Canyon when this is even more miraculous. All the better eventually… that the Dakotas are not on the through line to the Coast..”—   Frank Lloyd Wright

The twenty-two mile canyon byway, hugs fast moving Spearfish Creek. Travelers are treated to easy access turnouts to view ethereal waterfalls as they tumble into the depths of the canyon.

Spearfish Canyon Waterfalls:

Bridal Veil: Cascading approximately 60 feet, Bridal Veil Falls is the most accessible waterfall in the canyon. The Falls flows intensely in the spring and slows considerably in late summer

Roughlock Falls: One of the prettiest falls in the Black Hills, see my pictures below.

Spearfish Falls: Spearfish Falls is off the beaten path, but well worth the walk. It is located in the heart of Spearfish Canyon near the Savoy area. The trail to the waterfall begins on the north side the Latchstring Inn restaurant (blurb from Visit Spearfish site)


Nearing the Roughlock Falls turnout, I felt as though I’d stepped into a heavenly western novel where you wind up lost at a cool rustic hotel with charm and class (I watch Hallmark – :). You can enjoy the best in the west at the Spearfish Canyon Resort. Like the State Game Lodge, it has a rustic stone and wooden structure engineered to emultate the natural scenery. Inside, guests are treated to world class Dakota charm and elegance. I would love to check into this resort next time I’m in the area.

If you are hungry after hiking in the canyon, The Spearfish Canyon Resort has a great restaurant: The Latchstring.

To learn more about this historic resort click here.

Roughlock Falls is an easy to access waterfall that tumbles gracefully in the heart of the canyon. The water feeding Roughlock Falls flows into Spearfish Canyon from Little Spearfish Creek.

Roughlock Falls

I enjoyed spending about forty minutes in the Roughlock Falls area, just taking in the canyon views and thanking God for His glorious creation.

I exited Spearfish Canyon just before 1 p.m. I merged on I-90 westbound driving towards the Wyoming line.

Stay tuned for my next entry – we’ll be crossing into Wild Wyoming to explore a bit of ‘Sundance,’ Buffalo and the Bighorns and beyond.

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