605 Outdoor Wonders: Spearfish Canyon

By Anna Stritecky

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One of South Dakota’s most majestic beauties is right in the heart of Spearfish Canyon, or what some call devil’s bathtub. Spearfish Canyon is a collection of limestone rock lined in a valley, eventually trapping you within the walls of rivers and streams that run through the canyon. Originally only accessible by horse, Spearfish canyon now has trails from the outside so tourists can walk in at will.

As I ventured out to Rapid City and stayed with an area native, she suggested traveling to Spearfish Canyon/Devil’s Bathtub as earlier as possible, seeing that eventually tourists would fill up the trails and the natural swimming pools. Setting out around 6 a.m., the sun was just starting to rise and the animals scurrying about (one can expect to see deer, mountain goats, various types of birds and porcupines).

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There is a little over two miles of twists and turns before you get into the canyon, and then another half mile to get to the pools. The main trails are heavily wooded, having visitors jump through streams to get from side to side. It is a little bit of an incline, but nothing that is too physically strenuous. Beside that, even if you can not make it to the main part of devil’s bathtub, there a different smaller tubs along the way that you can stop and swim in. But, once one is at the main “bathtub,” they are free to swim about, or even just hang out on the limestone rocks. Devils Bathtub is a streaming flow of water, the water tends to be chilly, especially right away in the morning after not seeing sun for eight or so hours. As the afternoon wears on and the heat goes up, so does the temperature of the water.

Whether it be a whole day excursion or just to walk around Spearfish Canyon for a bit, the limestone rocks will greet you as you walk in. No matter the time of day, how many people are there, or the temperature of the water, Spearfish Canyon/Devil’s Bathtub will be one of South Dakota’s most majestic views.

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Related: 

605 Outdoor Wonders: McKennan Park 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum 

Meet the Interns: Anna Stritecky