Scenic USA - South Dakota

Spearfish Canyon

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Spearfish Canyon - Spearfish, South Dakota

Photos by Ben Prepelka and Roger Gillette
Roughlock Falls inset by Jeff Taylor
Jeff's Rimrock Trail Report

     South Dakota's Black Hills Mount Rushmore Presidents - Black Hills, South Dakota visitors are drawn to the area by its famous sculptures, granite peaks, historic old west towns and breathtaking mountain scenery. Spearfish Canyon Byway is one of the routes that twist and climb through Black Hills. South of the town of Spearfish, route 14A snakes its way through a narrow 19 mile gorge. A forest of ponderosa pine and spruce seem to find a way to grow from the canyon's steep rocky slopes. Aspen, birch and oak trees line the edges of Spearfish Creek and put colorful show during early fall. What's really an attention-getter are the canyon's thousand foot high walls that rise up sharply from the creek bed. The top beige limestone layer, with thicknesses that vary from 300 to 600 feet, have been named Paha Sapa. The thinner mid layer, seen with reddish hues, is made up of Englewood limestone. Roughlock Falls - Roughlock Falls Natural Area, SD The bottom layer of Deadwood sandstone is usually brown in color and averages about 300 feet thick.
      The tight width of the canyon made it difficult for anyone to take advantage of this shortcut through the Black Hills. After a few failed attempts, railroad tracks were completed through the canyon in 1893. Floodwaters damaged the tracks in 1933, and today's Route 14A follows the old railway bed. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is another way to enjoy the Black Hills area. The scenic drive, with nearly two dozen highlights, follows the heart of the canyon among its towering cliffs, the Black Hills forest and features the area's picturesque waterfalls and landmarks.

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