Known as the “Queen City” of South Dakota, Spearfish is a charming community nestled in the center of three major mountain summits: Crow Peak, Spearfish Mountain, and Lookout Mountain. The town is located in a scenic valley at the mouth of the visually spectacular Spearfish Canyon in Lawrence County. A Mecca for hikers and nature enthusiasts, the canyon is a breathtaking natural gorge along the northern stretch of the Black Hills, once heralded by Frank Lloyd Wright as among the most spectacular sights in the world. Gushing waterfalls, brilliantly hued foliage, and lush forests distinguish this attraction as a natural masterpiece. A local canyon favorite is the hike to the Devil’s Bathtub along one of the side gulches, culminating in a cascade of water tumbling from Sunshine Creek and feeding into a 10-foot-wide pool. Outdoor recreational activities abound in Spearfish, including mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and more.
Spearfish is named after the frequent spearing of fish by the Native Americans who originally inhabited the area in the early 1800s. With the bustle of activity and development in the wake of the Black Hills Gold Rush of 1876, Spearfish quickly became a bountiful supplier to local gold mining camps and was incorporated as a city in 1888. The Federal Fish Hatchery (also known as the D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery) was established in 1898. Throughout the 20th century, the city experienced continued growth and development with abundant mining and tourist activity. As of the 2005 census, the city was home to nearly 13,000 permanent residents.
For those seeking a rich, cultural experience, Matthew’s Opera House has staged hundreds of dramatic productions since it opened in 1906. Spearfish is also home to the Black Hills Passion Play, an outdoor theatrical depiction of Christ’s final seven days. Higher learning is provided by the Black Hills State University, which specializes in education and business programs.
Its close proximity to the Mount Rushmore memorial, the historic town of Deadwood, and the Black Hills National Forest make Spearfish a popular tourist destination. The city has long functioned as a thriving retail trade center. Downtown Spearfish is renowned for its historical architecture and hometown charm. Locals and tourists enjoy several specialty shops, such as the Dakota Quilt Company, Kathleen’s Unique Boutique, and Cellar Chics. A variety of dining establishments are available, including Bay Leaf Café, B & B Lounge, and an authentic English pub. Other area attractions include the whimsical Dolls at Home Museum, Termesphere Gallery, and the Spirit of the Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.