90,000 Miles to Me

15,350 Miles • Spearfish Canyon

The morning after Neutrino Day, I woke up to super dense fog and mist. The forest was lovely in the fog and I stopped frequently for photos. 

At this point I was feeling pretty done with South Dakota, but before I left the Black Hills behind, I wanted to see nearby Spearfish Canyon.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright declared Spearfish Canyon the most magnificent he’d seen; and yes, he’d been to the Grand Canyon. If he was that impressed, it should be well worth a look.

The long canyon has several popular hikes down to the many waterfalls that are scattered throughout.

I hiked the 1.5 mile roundtrip Spearfish Falls Trail down to one of the many waterfalls. The highlight for me was spotting an American Dipper and watching it for a while as it hopped around on a log in the creek.

This bird is called the American Dipper, a native to the area. It gets its name from its signature dipping into the water to eat insects.

According to an informational sign, the waterfall feeds Spearfish Creek, which provides accessible water for wildlife year round, even during the winter. Due to its rapid flow, Spearfish Creek freezes from the bottom up instead of the top down. 

Along the trail down to the waterfall, I passed this doe and her two fawns. She spent several minutes licking them and then led them into the trees.

Several miles farther up the canyon, I also hiked the much shorter but steeper trail to Bridal Veil Falls. This involved minor rock climbing, or rather scrambling, and crossing a shallow but wide, rapidly running stream. I took off my shoes so they wouldn’t be wet for hours, as did some other river crossers, and braved the water barefoot. It was coooold, cold, cold, cold, cold!

This is the ice-melt that I walked through. And no, those logs were not stable for crossing, I checked.

My reward for turning my feet into two blocks of ice:

The waterfall was beautiful, but I was more interested in the rocks off to the side. What made that jutting, geometrically shaped black coloration?

These aren’t fire marks, which would have been curved around the edges and irregular in intensity. Is it somehow part of the rock itself? But how?

There is much more to Spearfish Canyon, but I was eager to move on so skipped some of the best sights. Perhaps that leaves me in no position to judge Frank Lloyd Wright’s assertion, so I will just make this one observation. Spearfish Canyon lacks the sheer scale of the Grand Canyon, though I’ve never found the beauty of the desert to be personally appealing and definitely appreciate the greenery and teeming life here. Come judge for yourself. And spend more than a day here.


3 thoughts on “15,350 Miles • Spearfish Canyon

  1. hi, i have over the years heard much about the bridal veil falls, and now because of your curiosity i have been able to see it. thank you for showing us one of the natural wonders of the world. did you pick up a fragment to be analyzed? could the black rock be coal? so many questions.. I suppose that there is a law against taking things from a national park.

  2. I didn’t pick up any of the rock, but am still curious. Maybe someday I’ll find a book or someone who knows the answer to my riddle. It didn’t seem like coal, too hard, though there is coal mining not too far away, but then again I’ve never seen coal in raw form so…maybe.

  3. Great pictures. This is now on my wish list. I love that waterfall. Dippers are pretty rare sights, according to the bird expert I once went hiking with, who saw one, one which I missed.

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