Canyons of the Northen Hills – Fall Colors

Start your tour in Spearfish Canyon National Scenic Byway. The narrow canyon walls rise sharply skyward from Spearfish Creek. Traveling south from Spearfish on Hwy 14A, your first stop is Bridal Veil Falls. Enjoy the vibrant colors on the steep limestone cliffs flanking both sides of the canyon, with oak, elm, birch, aspen and ponderosa pine covering the canyon’s jagged peaks. Stop at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge and take the hiking trail behind Latchstring Restaurant to Spearfish Falls. Don’t leave your camera behind. Latchstring Inn is a great lunch stop.  Outdoor seating will give you a close- up view of the hillsides awash in color.

Another picturesque area is Roughlock Falls. Touted as one of the most beautiful locations in the Black Hills, Roughlock Falls is fed by Little Spearfish Creek and flows into Spearfish Canyon. The falls tumble over limestone cliffs, giving the area such a rustic and ancient atmosphere that cinematographers for “Dances with Wolves” decided to shoot its final scenes here.

Spearfish map

Continue on Roughlock Road (this is a gravel road) to Iron Creek Lake. The beauty of the fall colors will strike you. Iron Creek Lake is a favorite “locals” spot for fishing and camping.  This is back country at its finest.

Travel back to 14A and continue your trip through the canyon until you come to the Cheyenne Crossing store, a stagecoach-stop dating back to 1878.  Stop in for a late lunch and order their signature Indian Taco.

Leaving the canyon you’ll travel east on Hwy 85/14 to the mining community of Lead. Look up and observe the homes that appear to be hanging off the hill sides, now surrounded by the fall splendor.  Take time to visit the “Open Cut” at the new Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center and learn about the history of the miners who built what was once the biggest, deepest, best producing gold mine in the northern hemisphere.

Take highway 385 and travel up Strawberry Hill to Galena, a ghost town that was a thriving gold rush town in 1876. Observe the one room school that the town built in 1882. The school closed in 1943 but still stands today as a historical account of a one room school.  Traveling by 4-wheel drive you can either continue until you reach Vanocker Canyon or for a paved route, back track to 385 and take Nemo Road to Vonocker Canyon where large stands of birch and aspen provide a glowing backdrop along this peaceful and uncrowded paved byway. You will roll through some spectacular hill country and past beautiful creeks.

Vonocker Canyon comes out at Sturgis.  A side trip down legendary Sturgis Mainstreet is highly recommended as is a stop at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame before continuing your journey through Boulder Canyon. The high walled valley road between Sturgis and Deadwood provides a short, yet sweet, 12-mile drive with colorful autumn views.

Continue traveling into the western town of Deadwood. From the natural setting to the architecture this historic town was named one of the “Picture Perfect Towns” by Forbes Magazine. Enjoy the magnificent fall colors that surround this mountain town.

You have been dazzled with color from the top to the bottom. You’ve experienced the magnificent fall colors on one of the most scenic canyon loop roads of the Black Hills.