Western Trips

Western Trips

Friday, November 29, 2013

Scenic Drives Near Deadwood South Dakota

The Black Hills of South Dakota and nearby Deadwood forever will a focal point of old west history. The Black Hills was disputed territory between the Sioux tribes and the U.S. Government which would in a large way lead to the last great Indian war on the northern plains.

Scenic Black Hills
Today, the Black Hills of South Dakota and the town of Deadwood are extremely popular tourist destinations. This is a prime area to visit if you're planning a South Dakota vacation. The town of Deadwood South Dakota is close to several National Historic Sites. Mount Rushmore, one of the country's most visited national monuments, is located only about 49 miles south of Deadwood. Gillette Wyoming, to the west of the Black Hills and to the east of the Bighorn Mountains and about 106 miles west of Deadwood, was one of the largest coal mining areas in the country and still offers coal mine tours . The town is also well known for it's rodeos. All of the drives from the Deadwood area are very scenic and make great day trips.

Black Hills Scenic Drives

Two scenic drives into the Black Hills and the one's closest to Deadwood are the Devils Tower and the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Drives.

deadwood gem theater
Historic Gem Theater, 1878, Deadwood, SD
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway

Visitors to Deadwood will find the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway being the closest of the two to Deadwood. The gorge you'll view along this drive is composed of limestone which dates back even further than the rock at the Grand Canyon. U.S. Hwy 14A passes through the Black Hills and around Spearfish Canyon for twenty miles. Viewing of the canyon is best either early in the morning or late in the day to see the many colors. Some people stop off at the old town of Savoy to begin trail hikes to old mines and logging camps and past waterfalls. You'll also see several original buildings still standing from Savoy's frontier days.

Your drive along this scenic byway can begin at Spearfish South Dakota which is just about a 15 mile drive northwest of Deadwood and just south of Interstate-90. Driving south on the byway from that point you can stay on U.S. Hwy 14A all the way until it meets U.S. Hwy 85 /14. This would be about twenty miles south of Deadwood making your day trip a circle drive. Along the drive you'll find plenty of places to turn off the highway to enjoy the scenery and take some good photos. One popular scenic stop along the scenic byway is Bridal Veil Falls and the falls can be seen from the highway. Bridal Veil Falls is on the northern section of the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway and about 7 miles south of the town of Spearfish.

The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway through the Black Hills is a must thing to do if you're trip plans take you to Deadwood.

devils tower wyoming
1900 photo of DevilsTower
Devils Tower

Devils Tower is a U.S. National Monument and has the distinction of being the nation's first National Monument designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. Devils Tower is located in Wyoming about a 75 mile drive west of Deadwood with much of the way via Interstate-90. The National Monument covers 1,347 acres.

Historically, like much of the Black Hills, the Devils Tower was a spiritual site claimed by Native Americans. When pioneers headed west several treaties including those regarding the Black Hills were violated. The entire area was actually overrun when word of gold in the Black Hills spread east. Although the U.S. Army attempted to keep prospectors away their sheer numbers made it impossible. Attempts were made by the government to buy the Black Hills from the Sioux but were unsuccessful. The Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 and the defeat of Colonel George Armstrong Custer had many of it's roots in the Black Hills controversy.

Devils Tower, an internationally popular tourist site, has a visitor center and a bookstore which is open year round. Ranger tours to the monument are led during the morning. Visitors can also opt for a self guided tour around the monument's base. Camping facilities are available at the park seasonally.The tower rises 1,267 feet from the landscape floor. The tower also draws climbers from the world around. The monument's acreage is covered by both pine forests and prairie grasslands including plenty of interesting wildlife such as pronghorn and black tailed prairie dogs.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below...

Drive the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

Idaho's Sawtooth Scenic Byway

spearfish canyon scenic byway
Views along the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
  Geologists determined that the tower itself rose from beneath the ground after erosion took away the softer rock layers surrounding it. The tower is comprised of magma that solidified not far below the earth surface. The monument's visitors center exhibits a lot of detailed information about this geologic wonder.

To celebrate Devils Tower 100 year anniversary, a sculpture called Circle of Sacred Smoke was added bear the sites picnic area.

(Article copyright Western Trips. Photos and images in the public domain)

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