Monday, September 27, 2021
Our plans didn't require getting up early, but regardless I was up by 6:15 am. It wasn't long before Bob was also awake so we (meaning mostly Bob!) packed up the car. After a quick breakfast we were on the road. A flock of wild turkeys was there to say goodbye as we pulled out of the Turtle House driveway. Barely a mile down the road we had to brake to avoid hitting a couple of deer. (So many deer in the Spearfish area!!!) In less than 3 miles, we turned onto the Spearfish Canyon Highway.
Spearfish Canyon is (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful drives you can find. Tall bluffs line the sides of the highway which follows along Spearfish Canyon Creek. That time of the morning, the sun was just beginning to climb above the bluffs lighting up the golden colored trees.
It was nice that we weren't on any sort of time schedule. We pulled off the road often to take photos and just enjoy the scenery.
|Bob trying to show me the trail he had taken the previous day to Community Caves. |
I had to take his word for it...couldn't see anything through the trees.
One of our stops was at the pull-out for Bridal Veil Falls but the dry conditions in the Black Hills had reduced the falls to a trickle. Always up for a challenge, Bob climbed down the steep embankment and crossed over the creek to get a better view of the falls.
|Zoomed in view of Bob trying to cross the creek. I held my breath...I was sure he was going to fall in!|
|This was all that was left of Bridal Veil Falls.|
A couple in a camper van from Ohio stopped while I was waiting on Bob and wanted directions to Roughlock Falls. We had a nice chat and then they were on their way. Bob managed to complete his mission without getting wet.
|This photo gives a better perspective on how deep of a ravine the creek was in.|
|Using a walking stick was a smart move...he stayed dry!|
Not more than 5 minutes later, we stopped to see several mountain goats on the side of the road. I was excited because we had not seen any mountain goats on our trip last year.
Right after traffic started moving again we had to stop once more. There were more mountain goats but this time they were doing what mountain goats do best...climbing on the side of a steep cliff. We watched as one by one they came down to the road. They seemed to have no fear of the people gathered to watch them. Our Ohio friends stopped as well and we visited briefly again.
|Momma and her kid.|
I always enjoy sipping a large mug of coffee when we are driving in the morning but you know how that ends up. <potty time 😄> Last year we had enjoyed a picnic lunch in the Long Valley Picnic Area and we knew that bathrooms would be available there. Success.
|Long Valley Picnic area on Spearfish Canyon Road. A few picnic tables + toilets.|
One thing we didn't see last year was Spearfish Falls and that was at the top of my "to-do" list for the day. All of the reviews I had read said to park behind the Latchstring Restaurant near the town of Savoy but when we pulled in there was a sign that said parking was for customers ONLY. It added a little bit of distance to our walk, but we continued on past the Spearfish Canyon Lodge and parked in the public lot near the trailhead for Roughlock Falls.
We walked back to the Latchstring Restaurant where there is a viewing platform that gives a somewhat blocked view looking down on Spearfish Falls from above.
|Spearfish Falls from above.|
There is also a dirt path that leads down to a view from the bottom of the falls. The hike was quite steep at the beginning but then leveled out and was an easy walk. We were almost to the falls when our Ohio friends came walking down the path. Seeing the FALLS in FALL was perfect!
Even though our car was parked at the Roughlock Falls trailhead, we opted to skip the 2 mile round trip hike and drive down the gravel road to see the falls. From a nice picnic area, there is a shorter (but much steeper) trail that leads to several viewing areas overlooking the tall upper falls and cascading lower falls. The multiple parking lots were nearly full in this area.
|Lower Roughlock Falls. Sunlight had not yet reached the lower falls so they are in shadows.|
|Upper Roughlock Falls.|
Roughlock Falls was very nice, but I think Spearfish Falls wins the prize for "most beautiful" in my opinion. I think the sunlight shining on Spearfish Falls may have made the difference. We debated about having an early lunch at one of the picnic tables in the little park-like area, but the only available tables were in full sun.
We continued on down Roughlock Falls Road, and just past the area where the winter scene was filmed for the movie "Dances with Wolves" we found a small pull out in the shade alongside Spearfish Creek. We set up our folding chairs and brought out the cooler with our lunch supplies. It was a beautiful and peaceful place to enjoy our meal with the breeze rustling through the leaves and the sound of rushing water in the creek.
|Our impromptu picnic area.|
After lunch, Bob took off exploring the nearby Rimrock Trail but quickly came back...he wanted me to see what he had discovered. Just across the creek from where we ate was a sign saying that a pine tree from this location had been cut down to be the National Christmas tree in 1997.
But that wasn't all he had found. Bob had also discovered a doorway in the side of a hill leading to an underground room. Neither of us was sure what exactly it was, but it was interesting!
|Inside looking out.|
Back on route 14A, we went north to the town of Lead and stopped briefly to look at a giant hole in the ground that had been the Homestake Gold Mine, the largest in the Western Hemisphere until it closed in 2002. The mine has since been converted into an area for scientific research on neutrinos and dark matter particles.
|A photo can't convey just how big and deep this hole was!|
A quick drive through the town of Deadwood was all we needed. Main street is pretty much a few blocks of t-shirt shops and casinos. There are historical sites to see and explore in Deadwood including the graves of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane, but we still had a bit of a drive to get to our lodging for the night so did not take the time.
|A small waterfall on the side of the road near Deadwood.|
|Deadwood, South Dakota.|
An AirBnB apartment near the small town of Pringle, SD would be our home base for the next five nights. This is the same place where we stayed last September and loved the location. We had become friends with the owners last year so it was fun to catch up when we arrived. The weather was pretty warm as we were getting settled, but by sunset the temperatures in the valley dropped drastically as the sun set behind the hills.
|The view from the deck of our apartment. Such a peaceful place!|
A big day tomorrow as we visit Abe, George, Tom and Teddy!