15 Best Things to Do in Spearfish, SD

Spearfish, SD
Dan Thornberg / shutterstock.com

One of the best travel adventures always involves the outdoors, culture, and nature.

This is why it makes the city of Spearfish in South Dakota a perfect destination for the ultimate adventure.

So, what are the best things to do in Spearfish SD?

This small city in South Dakota's Lawrence County boasts some of the most beautiful wildlife, cultural and nature attractions in the North Central United States.

Spearfish is specifically located in the famous Black Hills Mountains.

It was founded in 1876 during the 'Gold Fever' period where people across the North Central region of the country flocked there to mine gold.

They eventually settled there and turned Spearfish into a thriving community.

Today, Spearfish has a population of 11,547 and is considered one of the safest communities and most livable cities in the United States.

However, there is more to Spearfish than meets the eye, and that is the city’s natural beauty and vibrant historical arts and cultural background.

Thus, this thriving community continues to grow as one of the new popular destinations in the country.

It is a place for arts and culture and untamed natural beauty.

It is home to the Black Hills State University and other historical museums and art galleries that visualize the rich history of Spearfish and the entirety of Lawrence County.

So, in this post, let us discover the 15 awesome things to do in Spearfish with this list of its most popular attractions.

Conquer the Challenge in Spearfish Canyon

Waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon
Pierre Jean Durieu / Shutterstock.com

It is well-known for its deep and very narrow gorge located at the south end of Spearfish and the northern end of the Black Hills National Forest.

Spearfish Canyon has a scenic byway that traverses the canyon itself and connects the Cheyenne Crossing.

It is home to some of the incredible diversity of plant species, wherein 1,260 of the 1,585 plant species in South Dakota thrive there.

Trail in Spearfish Canyon
Lost_in_the_Midwest / Shutterstock.com

It is also home to diverse wildlife: cliff swallows, turkeys, chickadees, bluejays, bald and golden eagles, and woodpeckers.

Mammals such as bobcats, white-tail deer, mule deer, raccoons, porcupines, chipmunks, squirrels, and yellow-bellied marmot also inhabit there.

With all the wildlife thriving there, Spearfish Canyon is a fantastic spot for wildlife watching.

Waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon
Ami Parikh / Shutterstock.com

It showcases the most unique artworks of Dick Thermes.

Enjoy art pieces that mainly revolve around globes, paintings, and other works of art that have their own universe.

It is located nearby Spearfish and is considered one of the world’s most odd but mesmerizing art galleries.

The gallery is easily distinguished with its geodesic dome structure that is ornamented with magical and colorful globes.

Dick Thermes, the artist behind the gallery, uses the termespheres as his art medium to create his masterpieces and other collections.

He incorporates 3D paintings on globes and spheres to create unique and beautiful art pieces.

The Termesphere is known for its four geodesic domes that store Thermes's famous artworks featured in numerous art books worldwide.

Pose for Photos at the Roughlock Falls Nature Area

This spot is located within the Spearfish Canyon and is a popular and highly-visited place of Black Hills because of its pristine waterfalls and relaxing ambiance.

The source of the Roughlock Falls comes from the Spearfish Canyon's Little Spearfish Creek that flows the entire year.

Tourists never fail to visit the area because of its Instagrammable scenery.

Also, the falls have their own walking path and trails for hiking and better opportunities to discover the area.

Families also go there for picnics as well as fishing and wildlife viewing.

Stroll Through the Commercial District

View of Commercial District in Spearfish
JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From a small settlement in 1876, Spearhead turned into a thriving city in a matter of years because of the Gold Rush or the Gold Fever that attracted homesteaders, prospectors, and adventurers.

Spearfish continues to grow and thrive over the years while its art and culture bring more color to the city.

One of the best witnesses of Spearfish's growth and history is its commercial district.

The commercial district serves as the people's center for social and commercial needs.

The commercial district, which has an L-shaped area, encompasses Spearfish's Main Street that covers four blocks.

The commercial district is significant to the city's arts and culture as it directly reflects the classic turn-of-the-century appeal of the city.

This place also preserves the native and original building designs that were built before 1911.

16 of the 24 buildings in the commercial district built before 1911 are still standing firmly today.

The commercial district alone can provide tourists with the best things to do in Spearfish SD.

The commercial district also boasts plenty of restaurants, shops, and other local specialties.

Go Back in Time at High Plains Western Heritage Center

This heritage museum was devoted to the western expansion.

It opened its doors for the first time in 1989 as a heritage museum mainly dedicated to the Western expansion.

It boasts a huge facility measuring up to 20,000 sq ft. that houses the regional museums from five states in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Montana.

It displays and pays homage to the pioneers of the Old West and the American Indians in the mentioned five states.

The museum features a wide array of collections of stagecoaches, cabins, homesteads, chuckwagons, and other historical artifacts that virtually take you back in time during the city's early years.

Unwind at the Bridal Veil Falls

View of Bridal Veil Falls
Photoguy1057 / Shutterstock.com

For those who do not want a long hike, there is another fall in Spearfish that is highly accessible to everyone.

It is the Bridal Veils Falls that is located six miles south of Spearfish Canyon's northern entrance.

This falls is perfect for family outdoor activities because of its accessibility.

The falls have an approximate 60-feet plunge. People can bring their vehicles because of the spacious parking area adjacent to the falls.

Also, there is an observation platform built around the pool for better viewing and picture taking.

Reach the Prehistoric Crow Peak Summit

Billions of years ago, Crow Peak Summit was covered by an ocean.

But evolution completely changed this place into a mountain.

Crow Peak Summit has an elevation of 5,600 feet, making it a bit challenging for newbie hikers to reach the summit.

However, the challenge is completely worth it.

As you reach the peak, you will be greeted with a picturesque view of the entire Black Hills and the horizon.

Crow Peak Summit today is one of Spearfish's top hiking destinations not just for its picturesque summit view but also for its majestic limestone formations and challenging terrain.

Also, people who climb there always have an impression of its prehistoric appeal, making it a must-visit place in Spearfish.

This place is also the namesake of a popular local beer company (Crow Peak Brewing Co.).

Crow Peak Summit is located on the northern side of the Black Hills, on the outskirts of Spearfish.

Enjoy Snowboarding and Skiing at the Terry Peak Mountain

A popular ski area is located within the Black Hills National Forest.

It first opened in 1936 and then became popular skiing, snowboarding, and tubing destination in South Dakota.

It is located south in the outskirts of Spearfish and east in Black Hills National Forest.

Visitors enjoy the 600 acres of terrain for skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor sports.

The area is also equipped with multiple high-speed quad and chairlifts.

Embrace Nature in Black Hills National Forest

View of the Falls in Black Hills National Forest
Jason Patrick Ross / Shutterstock.com

Hikers will get themselves full with Black Hills National Forest’s 125-mile long stretch of forested area in its nature reserve.

The area is so huge that it covers the Wyoming and South Dakota borders. Thus, it is perfect for biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

For those who want a lighter hike, Black Hills has a shorter trail known as the Big Hills Trail that covers around 3.7 miles.

Big Hills leads to the more technical hiking trail in Crow Peak, located south of Spearfish's Highway 134.

View of the Falls in Black Hills National Forest
Jason Patrick Ross / Shutterstock.com

Destress at the Iron Creek Lake

Considered as Black Hills' untouched beauty, Iron Creek Lake is situated west of Spearfish Canyon.

It is a 20-minute walk from South of Spearfish's city center, wherein visitors can safely get there through its gravel road.

The lake was constructed in the mid-1930s as a Works Progress Administration.

Its main purpose was to provide Lawrence County with a suitable recreation site.

The lake isn't that huge; the entire trail that circles the lake is about a mile in length.

The lake, meanwhile, is 24-acres wide with a small beach for visitors to swim. Thus, high-speed watercraft and wakeboarding activities are prohibited.

Instead, the lake is visited by locals as an area to relax and enjoy its peaceful atmosphere.

Also, the lake is popular for hiking, camping, and fishing activities.

Uncover the Hidden Beauty of the Community Caves

Spearfish Canyon has a hidden gem aside from its majestic limestone walls and treetops.

It is the Community Caves that is also known as the Wildcat Caverns.

The cave system is located half a mile from the main road below Spearfish Canyon.

However, the steep ascent to the caves makes the hike going up there challenging for visitors.

Experienced hikers consider it a moderately strenuous hike as aside from the steep ascent, there are also loose rocks along the trail.

But the challenge is worth it because you will be welcomed with the unspoiled dome-like cave structure.

Take a Dip at the Spearfish Recreation and Aquatics Center

For the less adventurous, of course, Spearfish has something for them.

The Spearfish Recreation and Aquatics Center boast a 71-square-foot modern aquatics facility that your family can enjoy.

The area is one of the top venues for Spearfish locals to hold different occasions, such as family events, community activities, and sports events.

The facility was built in 2008 is designed to cater primarily to groups such as families.

Thus, it is equipped with a water park with multiple pools, water slides, and other pool amenities.

Also, it has its recreation center, gymnasium, and a lot more.

The Spearfish Recreation and Aquatics Center are located at 122 Recreation Ln.

Discover the Contribution of D.C. Booth Historic Natl. Fish Hatchery & Archives to Nature

View of D.C. Booth Historic Natl. Fish Hatchery & Archives
Mr. Satterly, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The D.C. Booth Historic Natl. Fish Hatchery & Archives is one of the oldest fish hatcheries in the United States, established in 1896.

The D.C Booth is one of the 70 hatcheries built in the country under the United States Fish & Wildlife Service’s efforts to repopulate trout in the lakes and rivers of the Black Hills National Forest.

As part of the country’s National Fish Hatchery System and has helped Black Hills’ for more than a century of fish repopulation, it has a significant role not just in nature, but in Spearfish’s history.

View of D.C. Booth Historic Natl. Fish Hatchery & Archives
TCMemoire, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Because of this program, the wildlife has continued to thrive until today.

It regularly spawns thousands of rainbow trout numbering up to 30,000 annually and releases them to Black Hills’ rivers and lakes.

It also houses the historical artifacts, fishery archives, and preserved records that are still significant today.

People can visit and learn more about D.C. Booth's history through the Von Bayer Museum of Fish Culture located within the original hatchery building.

Visit Spearfish’s Entertainment Center Back in the Day

The Matthews Opera House and Arts Center is a popular art and historical destination in Spearfish that was recently restored to restore its timeless beauty.

It is located on Main Street in downtown Spearfish and is the city's top movie theater and shooting gallery.

It is also considered a cultural gem in Spearfish for its relevance to the city’s entertainment, history, and culture.

For over a hundred years, the Matthews Opera House has been a bear witness to countless performers who graced its stage.

Today, the Matthews continue to provide historical and cultural connections to both locals and tourists in Spearfish.

This art gallery is located within the Black Hills State University in Spearfish.

It is mainly committed to fostering an educational experience for both locals and visitors through its exhibits.

It aims to innovate and engage its audiences as well as artists in exploring contemporary art significant to the community, region, and state.

The Ruddell Gallery regularly hosts exhibitions, educational tours, and programs for everyone.

The exhibit also highly encourages inquiry, focusing on creating an understanding of art and its impact on society.

Final Thoughts

Spearfish is a must-visit place.

It never runs out of beautiful places and interesting sites that not just bring you closer to nature but also learn more about history.

As stated above, visitors can either choose between outdoor recreation or decide to learn the arts, history, and culture of the city that is also relevant to American heritage.

From limestone canyons, pristine waterfalls, and diverse flora and fauna, Spearfish is a sanctuary for everyone that seeks the ultimate escape from the city stress.

Spearfish is gifted with both nature and its rich history that you should include on your bucket list.