Monday, July 13, 2015

We Bid a Fond Farewell to Lovely Spearfish, SD

Our week in Spearfish, SD went by way too fast. This is our kind of town: not too big, cute little downtown but not too touristy, nice neighborhoods set among rolling green hills and a strong focus on outdoor recreation with dozens of trails within minutes of town. If it were closer to our families we'd probably add it to our "potential places to live" list.

We barely scratched the surface of all there is to do around Spearfish in a week, had we known what a lovely place this was we'd probably have booked a month! My last post covered a couple of beautiful trails we hiked, here's a look at how we spent the rest of our week...

DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery is adjacent to our campground at Spearfish City Park. Established in 1896, it is one of the oldest operating fish hatcheries in the country and today is a steward of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's historic and cultural heritage. The hatchery is always free and it is in danger of closing. Spearfish holds weekly summer acoustic concerts in City Park to benefit the hatchery.

The Hatchery grounds are gorgeous and a treat to stroll around.

This is a replica of a fish car used to transport fish across the country at the turn of the century.

Also adjacent to Spearfish City Campground is Spearfish Canyon Disc Golf Course. This is the most challenging, most strenuous, most beautiful disc golf course we have played to date. It's 27 holes of hilly, heavily vegetated terrain, and includes four hanging baskets and the possibility of seeing deer and turkey. We spent lots of time searching for discs but somehow managed to play the entire course on a warm day...testament to what a neat course it was!

Hans throwing uphill to our first hanging basket.
Every tee has good signage and a picnic table, sometimes a trash can too.

Hans searching for his disc in a ravine full of poison ivy.
We've seen quite a lot of poison ivy on the trails in the Black Hills but neither of us has been affected by it
and I am sure we've at least grazed it with our shins.

Disc search in the flowers!

Another hanging basket!
We'd never seen these before...

I think the turkey wants to play too!

One evening we drove to Deadwood, SD because we'd recently learned of an excellent dinner deal at Legends Steakhouse at the historic Silverado Franklin Hotel from our new friends Marc and Julie. Deadwood was historically picturesque but it's overwhelmed by casinos, like an old timey Las Vegas, not our cup of tea. But the dinner was excellent, melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon for a very reasonable price.

Deadwood, SD

Regularly scheduled shoot out in front of the historic Franklin Hotel.

Lookout Mountain is the prominent peak immediately East of downtown Spearfish so of course we wanted to hike it! A young woman at the visitor center gave us a town map and told us where to park (the East end of Nevada St.) in order to take a tunnel under the highway to reach the trailhead.

Well this is one of those times where I didn't do any further research expecting the way to be obvious once we started the hike. Wrong! About half a mile in, not sure if we were following a trail or a cow path (there were plenty of cows around, and lots of their paths and poop!) I did a search and found this post that gave me a map to navigate by.

We ended up hiking about a six mile loop, mostly following the map on the link above. While this was an excellent hike and we saw lots of turkeys and had excellent views, the trail was almost covered in several places by the thick grass which had us a bit worried about snakes. We also encountered one mama cow that made a couple of scary rushes towards us! All in all, an exciting morning on the trail!

We scared a flock of turkeys causing this youngster to fly into a nearby tree!

The approach to the summit of Lookout Mountain.
Beyond the cell tower is a wonderful rock cliff with expansive views of Spearfish and beyond.

I-90 separates us from Spearfish.
Crow Peak, which we hiked the other day, lies in the distance.

Near the end of the hike we could see Lookout Mountain summit sticking up
above the limestone bluffs we'd just traversed.

Our last adventure in the Black Hills was a visit to Bear Butte State Park. Located about 25 miles East of Spearfish, Bear Butte is not actually a butte, it is a laccolith. Magma lifted the earth's crust yet failed to break through the layers of sedimentary rock...when the sedimentary crust eroded it left the harder igneous core, the laccolith.

This mountain, standing alone in the plains, has been a sacred place to the Plains Indians for centuries. Many visit this living cathedral for spiritual renewal and to be close to nature and their Creator. Colorful prayer cloths line the trail and visitors are asked to tread softly and respect those who have come to worship.

Thank you Abena Songbird for suggesting a visit to this beautiful site, and for the gift of a dreamcatcher. We are reminded of our visits with you and our wonderful time in these Black Hills every time we see it!

Bear Butte rises abruptly from the plains.

It's a fairly steep climb over loose talus to reach the top of Bear Butte, but the 360 degree views, the cool breeze and the sense of peace awaiting you are ample rewards for your efforts.

Spearfish City Campground was the perfect place to spend a week. It has 62 reservable full hook up sites and about 150 dry campsites that are first come, first serve. This park is very popular and gets busy on summer weekends. Backing in to some of the hook up sites could be very difficult if you arrive late on a busy Friday or Saturday because of the multitude of cars parked just off the road for the dry sites along the creek.

The park has restrooms and showers. Verizon signal is excellent. The location cannot be beat: it's a few blocks walk to downtown, the Fish Hatchery is next door, the disc golf course is a quarter mile away, paved Spearfish Recreation Trail winds through the park, Spearfish City Park is next door with a big playground, fishing in Spearfish Creek and weekly summer concerts, there's even good neighborhood walking right from the park.

Even though the sites are a little tighter than we like, we would stay here again. We might even splurge a little for a premium site which have a little more room and back up to the creek and bike path. Park rules state you can only stay two weeks, then you must leave for a week before you can return.

Site #6 was a challenge to get in to between a tree and some posts protecting new grass seed.
Quarters are a little closer than we like but we never had any noisy neighbors.

Many of the dry sites are situated along a branch of Spearfish Creek...just lovely!

The creek was right across from our site and the water was VERY COLD!
The Spearfish Recreation Trail is on the bridge behind Hans...extremely convenient!

Limestone cliffs along Spearfish Creek viewed from the bridge in above photo.

Downtown Friday nights in Spearfish in the summer.

Tomorrow we're off to Wyoming!


  1. We only spent a couple days there but looks like we should have stayed longer. Our site was one of the dry sites on the creek and very private. We thought the hookup sites were way too close.

    1. The creekside sites were lovely but we like our hook ups!

  2. Spearfish is a lovely little town. Deadwood, well, it was much better before they legalized gambling.... And I hiked Bear Butte last year when I was visiting my parents (if you go to my archives it's in Sept 2014) Glad you had such a good time in my old stompin' grounds! :)

    1. I had no idea prior to visiting Deadwood that it was such a gambling town! I expected touristy mining town...oh well, at least we got an excellent meal out of the trip!

  3. I've so enjoyed your posts about the Black Hills and loved that you shared with everyone the beauty it it isn't the Rocky Mountains but it is just as lovely if you look. :) Definitely took me back to growing up there and you were lucky that they've had so much rain and you got to enjoy all of the lushness it brought.

    1. Yeah, the Rockies are spectacular but most of the trails will kick your butt due to the elevation and steepness...I like staying in a place with a variety of trails so I can choose how hard I want to hike on any given day! We really loved the Black Hills!

  4. That golf course looks very challenging! Great pic of Hans and the view across to Crow Mountain. Love the sacred butte and that you were able to reach the top and enjoy the spirit of the place. We're finding that when the surrounding area has so much to offer, a tighter spot isn't such a big deal - especially when neighbors are quiet (which all but one of ours has been so far).

    1. Exactly...I can handle a few days or a week in a tight spot when the neighbors are respectful and I am out and about the area a lot. We are often content just hanging out inside the RV in the evenings anyhow, homebodies in our little cocoon on wheels!

  5. I enjoyed South Dakota… it was our first destination when we set out on our first RV adventure :)

  6. Looks like we definitely need to go back to the Dakotas and experience Spearfish. The hiking looks wonderful.

  7. I can see how you could easily spend a month there. Love the park you stayed in with the limestone cliff lined creek and the bike path. What more could you want. While I love to hike to views, I think I prefer the view looking up at Lookout Mountain to the one overlooking the interstate and the town. But Bear Butte has to be my favorite. We did go there and it was wonderful.

  8. Already? it seems like you were just there a few days ago. I can agree with you, all pictures speaks volume about the place and how enticing it is to stay there longer. I have heard of Spearfish from one of our casual conversation from that area and she was sure right about how nice it is. You have given us plenty of things to do in fall!

  9. Another gorgeous place added to our list! Love those in-town campgrounds where we can head to hiking or biking trails right out our front door. I can see why that disc golf course was a tough one -- that photo of Hans searching for the disc in the poison ivy made me laugh, but also made me cringe.

  10. Certainly looks like a wonderful town to spend some time. John tells me that I've been there before on a motorcycle trip. I do remember Deadwood, however, because we stayed there and a van took you into town which we used for dinner. It is an interesting area. Thanks for showing us all that is offered. I really liked the pond and statues at the fish hatchery.

  11. We are in complete agreement about Spearfish and it's also on our list of places we'd like to live. It's just the right size.

  12. What a wonderful spot! We visited the area a few years ago, but it was during the "Harley" days. Looks like we need to return and do some of those beautiful trails! Don't you just love sticking your feet in a cold creek? I sure do and don't miss any opportunity to do it!
    Safe travels and can't wait for your posts!