The breathtaking limestone palisades of this creek-carved gorge are more ancient than the Grand Canyon – albeit much closer together. Accessible only by horseback until 1893, Spearfish Canyon’s narrow, 1000-foot walls are among the most spectacular scenery in the Black Hills.
Spearfish Canyon is a great spot for wildlife enthusiasts, as the diverse array of plant life provides a comfortable home for deer, mountain goats, porcupines and bobcats.
Passersby can see the canyon en route to other Black Hills attractions on US Highway 14A, which winds through the canyon for nearly 20 miles. Built on top of an ancient rail bed, the highway affords visitors views of pristine natural wonders and historical treasures. Near the end of the canyon is the old sawmill town of Savoy, which provides a jumping off point for scenic hikes into ancient mining and logging camps.
A stunning highlight of Spearfish Canyon is Roughlock Falls, widely considered one of the most beautiful locations in the Black Hills. The scenery is so beautiful that cinematographers for the motion picture "Dances with Wolves" decided to shoot its final scenes here.
The name Roughlock Falls originates from difficulties early settlers encountered while traveling through Spearfish Canyon. Wagon drivers would "roughlock" the wheels of their wagons with logs or chains to keep them in place and slide down the slope.
Visitors can fish or picnic in the nature area surrounding Roughlock Falls. The canyon itself is also a spectacular place to explore with several designated walking paths and hiking trails. In the fall, photographers flock to the canyon to capture vibrant gold and red aspen leaves as the seasons change. Roughlock Falls is also an excellent place to bird watch, especially for rare species like the American Dipper.
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