Nestled in the Black Hills National Forest, this awe-inspiring gem is renowned for its picturesque scenery, abundant wildlife, and lush forests. The massive rock formation that makes up Spearfish Canyon is the product of thousands of years of erosion, its near-vertical cliffs remnants of a long-receded ocean.
Thousands of tourists feast their eyes on Spearfish Canyon’s natural wonders from their vehicles while riding the 19-mile stretch on U.S. Highway 14A, which has been designated as a National Scenic Byway. For those who want to truly experience all the canyon has to offer, there’s perhaps no better way than hopping on a mountain bike and hitting the road’s generously sized 4-foot-wide shoulder. Bikers will enjoy challenging inclines, daring switchbacks, and the thrill of being flanked by sheer limestone cliffs.
There’s no shortage of scenic offerings to watch for during your bike tour of Spearfish Canyon. The canyon is covered with a thick canopy of Ponderosa Pine trees, creating a beautifully shaded route. Along the roads are plentiful flowers, plants, and grasses. The diversity of vegetation is unrivaled—on one turn, you’ll find pines and spruces, and on the next you may find graceful prairie grasses. Look close and you’ll likely see bunches of the Pasque flower, South Dakota’s official state flower. Birdwatchers may spot up to 130 different species of feathered beauties. Bridal Veil Falls is a popular tourist destination, combining cascading waterfalls with lush, colorful plant life. Many bikers stop to refuel at the Roughlock Falls picnic area—west of Savoy, this spot became well-known as the filming site of the final scenes from the movie “Dances with Wolves”.
Spearfish Canyon is perhaps most beautiful in the autumn, when the aspen trees nearly glow with their warm gold colorations. When the fall foliage combines with the brown, pink, and gray hues of the canyon cliffs, the explosion of color creates an awe-inspiring sight. With its diverse vegetation, impressive rock formations, and adventurous roadways, it’s no wonder Spearfish Canyon was named one of the top 50 scenic bike trails in the country by Bicycling Magazine.