Roughlock Falls, South Dakota

Roughlock Falls (99)

Roughlock Falls in May 2016

As you head further west in South Dakota, you start finding some really beautiful scenery. One of those places is Spearfish Canyon. It’s definitely got the western feel to it. Spearfish Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are two of the popular waterfalls in the canyon. Bridal Veil Falls is the easiest to visit, right off the road. Spearfish Falls isn’t difficult to visit, just a bit hard to find at first. Roughlock Falls is the third main waterfall, and it too is pretty easy to find.

Roughlock Falls is on Little Spearfish Creek, with Roughlock Falls upstream and Spearfish Falls downstream (on the same creek) just as it merges with Spearfish Creek. You can take a longer hike to get to the falls from the Roughlock Falls Trailhead near the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. It’s a beautiful hike along the creek, and comes in at just under 1 mile one-way. I remember the hike being pretty easy. If you decide you don’t want to walk that far, there’s also a parking area only about 400 feet from the falls. I didn’t regret the longer hike one bit.

I did show up at a time of day when the sun was out and intense. It made photographing these and the other falls a bit more difficult, but you can’t predict what the weather is going to be like. It was early May, and yet the temperatures were rather warm. It did get a bit cold at night, so make sure to bring layers. (And early May seemed to be a great time to visit. Some of the hotels were running $40 a night. Later in the summer, good luck trying to find a room.)


  1. In Spearfish, follow the signs for Spearfish Canyon. This will be US-14 ALT. Continue along this curving road until you reach an intersection where you’ll find the Latchstring Restaurant and Spearfish Lodge.
  2. At this junction, head west along Roughlock Falls Road. The trailhead for the longer hike is right after the lodge. Drive further down to get to the other parking area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy from parking area), 8/10 (easy/moderate from trailhead)
Height: ~30′
Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip from parking area; 1.8 miles from trailhead

Where in the World is Roughlock Falls?


Bridal Veil Falls, South Dakota


Bridal Veil Falls in May 2016

Bridal Veil Falls is likely one of the more iconic sites in the Black Hills. If you’re entering the Black Hills from Spearfish, it’s one of the first sites that you’re going to encounter, at it’s a beautiful waterfall.

Bridal Veil Falls has many things going for it. It’s wildly easy to visit, as it’s a roadside waterfall. Spearfish Falls and Roughlock Falls are both in the vicinity, but both of those require slightly more effort to visit (though Roughlock Falls is easier to visit than I expected). All three waterfalls in the area are also free to visit! And finally, as I said before, this waterfall is a beautiful waterfall. It sort of just magically appears, and is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

When I visited these three falls in early May, it was quiet in the Black Hills. Many people visit in the summer, and then the area becomes very popular. At certain times, you may not be able to find hotel rooms. I, on the other hand, had a whole hotel to myself. And the weather was particularly beautiful the five days I was in the region. I would still suggest visiting in the late spring when you may not be surrounded by hoards of other people.


  1. There are a few different ways to arrive at the falls. I approached from a different way than most people, so I’ll tell you one easy way to arrive at the falls. From I-90, take either exit 12 or 14.
  2. Head generally south toward US-14 ALT. This is really the road you really want to find, as this leads directly into Spearfish Canyon. This is known as Spearfish Canyon Highway.
  3. Drive a few miles along this road. I don’t think a distance is necessary, as you should see the falls to your left. The parking area is across the road on your right (all assuming you’re heading south).

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~60′
Hike: not applicable, roadside

Where in the World is Bridal Veil Falls?

Spearfish Falls, South Dakota


Spearfish Falls in May 2016

I’ve been wanting to visit Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota for a number of years now, but for some reason have never taken the time to visit. (Flying into Rapid City is generally more expensive than some other places, which may play a factor in my decisions.) I made the decision to visit this year, though, and have now had the pleasure of visiting the Black Hills and Spearfish Canyon.

South Dakota has a number of waterfalls (compared to North Dakota, which apparently only has ONE). There are three clearly advertised waterfalls in Spearfish Canyon: Spearfish Falls, Roughlock Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. I’ve come to believe that there could be more than expected. (Check out Annie Creek Falls and the Devil’s Bathtub for at least two other waterfalls that aren’t as well advertised.) All three of the advertised waterfalls are easy to visit.

Spearfish Falls is found near the Latchstring Restaurant, which I would suggest stopping at to eat. (Support businesses that support waterfalls!) They have changed the path to the falls, and at first glance, it appeared that the trail was still closed. After eating, I asked someone at the restaurant about the falls, and she said that it was fine to walk to the falls even with the sign up. With that blessing, I went to see Spearfish Falls.

From the restaurant parking area, you head to the right. Cross the stream that turns into Spearfish Falls. Keep along the trail heading toward a house, but then veer right down a set of stairs. These stairs will turn into metal stairs and then a metal bridge crosses over another river. After crossing that river, the trail veers slightly to the left to avoid going on private property. From there, just follow the trail downhill. It’s pretty difficult to miss the falls! You’ll be rewarded with some pretty spectacular views.


  1. In Spearfish, follow the signs for Spearfish Canyon. This will be US-14 ALT. Continue along this curving road until you reach an intersection where you’ll find the Latchstring Restaurant and Spearfish Lodge.
  2. Park at the Latchstring Restaurant, and then follow the directions given above. (You can also access this from the opposite direction, as I did, since I stayed in Lead.)

Accessibility: 8/10 (stairs, and a bit steep)
Height: 47′
Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip (at the most), seemed MUCH shorter

Where in the World is Spearfish Falls?