One of the side adventures that we found on the road to Mount Rushmore was a trip to three impressive waterfalls. These three were called Bridal Veil Falls, Spearfish Falls, and Roughlock Falls. All of the waterfalls are pretty close together and can be reached by driving the very beautiful road through the Black Hills of South Dakota called SR-14A. This road is a short loop south of Spearfish. Instead of riding Interstate 90 from Spearfish down to Sturgis, you can take this little loop and visit the waterfalls. The scenery is much better than the Interstate!
Bridal Veil Falls
The first waterfall heading south on 14A is called Bridal Veil Falls. It is a roadside waterfall with an overlook platform and a wide pullout. We stopped and used the overlook, but we wanted to get closer, too. This required a short walk and a stream crossing. Luckily, there were a few logs and rocks laid across the stream and we made it across without too much difficulty. We were able to walk right up to the base of this falls, which has a vertical drop of over 60 feet. When we were there in late June, the waterfall was especially beautiful, too, because there is a lot of green moss growing down the rock.
The signs indicated that you can see mountain goats and bighorn sheep on the rocks that line the canyon walls, but we didn’t see any on our way to the second waterfall, which is called Spearfish Falls. This waterfall is located at the town Savoy, which isn’t really a town at all. There is a restaurant and a few other buildings, but it is really just a resort. This waterfall is larger and has a steep precipice, but it is also more difficult to access. We didn’t have time to make the 1.5 mile RT hike to the base of the falls, which starts from the restaurant parking lot on the left side of the road. We did get to see the top of the falls, which wasn’t a great view. Just turn into the restaurant parking lot. There is a mapboard showing the trail, which leads back to the left behind the restaurant. You can go to the top of the falls where there is a viewing platform, too. This platform is right next to the parking lot and to the right of the mapboard. We were really disappointed we didn’t have time to make the walk to the bottom, which is rated moderate, at least on the sign. Spearfish Falls is by far the most impressive of the three waterfalls with a vertical drop of over 110 feet, so do the hike if you can.
We did see a few white-tailed deer in this area, and the third waterfall is really close. Across the street from the restaurant, there is a fork in the road. It is a right turn off 14A, and it narrows down significantly, and becomes a very nice dirt road after only a hundred yards or so. This road is not rough, though, and it’s only a mile to Roughlock Falls. As you start the road, you could park at a trailhead area and hike the mile along the river. It would be a really beautiful riparian hike, but again, we didn’t have time, so we drove right to the waterfall. There is a small parking lot and a short walk to the falls. After you park, walk to the right to get a good look at the waterfall, which is actually below you. Several boardwalks wind around through the trees giving three different looks of Roughlock Falls. This waterfall is in a unique narrow grotto, and it falls around 50 feet. It has an especially unique look, and is definitely worth the 1 mile drive.
If you’re like us and like to get off the freeway whenever possible, take a ride on State Road 14A through the Black Hills of South Dakota. This road continues on through the town of Deadwood, which is a historical marvel in its own right. You won’t be sorry!