Yesterday we decided to drive one of the scenic byways in the area, Spearfish Canyon. We loaded up several geocaches that were along the way, and off we went. Spearfish Canyon is actually older than the Grand Canyon, it's evolution beginning approximately 62 million years ago. The carving of the inner gorge, known as Spearfish Canyon, was begun 5 million years ago, by the erosive power of the Spearfish Creek. Although of lesser depth, at 1000feet, as opposed to the Grand Canyon at 5000 feet, Spearfish Canyon has the distinction in history of development of a period over 12 times as long. Many consider the most magnificent canyon in the west, with As Frank Lloyd Wright explaining in his visit of 1935, “had Spearfish Canyon been on the ’throughway’ to westward migration, the canyon would be as significant in public appreciation as the Grand Canyon is today”.
Our first official sight stop was Bridal Veil Falls. Not extremely impressive, but remember, the midwest has suffered through severe drought this year.
A walk through a nature trail to Spearfish Falls...the colors are really starting up around here.
Spearfish Falls..much more impressive!
The trail led us through areas of ponderosa pines over 200 feet tall...these pines being very dark are what give the Black Hills their name...the thick forests appear black from a distance.
The view from a cache we found
Now, I found this really interesting. It looks like a toppled, dead tree, yet it's called a "mother log"....notice the trunk on the ground going off to the right of the picture....
the truck is laying on the ground, and brand new trees have grown off of it...all alive and thriving. I thought that was really neat, I'd never seen it before....or at least, never had it pointed out before :-)
More beautiful views looking upwards.
Next stop was Roughlock Falls. It's considered one of South Dakota's most photogenic spots, and was the setting for the final scene of the movie, "Dances With Wolves". It's now an improved recreation area with accessible trails, viewpoints, and picnic grounds.
The view of the top of the falls
The closest viewing area
Headed down to the bottom of the falls
View into the canyon from the bottom of the falls...the creek is now headed to Spearfish Falls
Cascades at the bottom of the falls
Of course, we ended up here at exactly the wrong time for taking pictures as the sun was directly behind and overhead of the falls, but I did the best I could :-).You can kind of see the main falls in the backround behind the right-hand side of the cascades.
Final view of the canyon and rock formations
As we exited the canyon, we stopped at Cheyenne Crossings for a refill on cold beverages...it was pretty warm out! We then looped back towards Spearfish, driving through and doing some caching in the towns of Lead and Deadwood. Lead is a very old town, and not well off economically, but is hoping that a research facility in the old underground mines will help restore the town. We visited Gold Run Park, dedicated to the mining history of the town, but it was a bit disappointing in that the park was overgrown, interpretive signs had been destroyed, and there wasn't much there to tell you about the mining equipment on display.
Deadwood is mostly a casino town now, but not extremely gaudy like Central City in Colorado was. It was getting late so we didn't stop at the museum or anything, but we did see the bar where Wild Bill Hickok was killed :-). An interesting area for sure.
Today's adventure will be Devil's Tower National Monument, and meeting up with one of our friends from Amazon. We'll see her again the end of next month when we get there, but we're both in the area (she workamps at a campground near Sundance WY), so we're going to visit the Tower together :-). Should be fun!