Friendship Tower is a great little hike just outside Deadwood. It is located in Mount Roosevelt Picnic Area just about 3.5 miles out of town.
The tower was built in 1919 as a tribute to President Theodore Roosevelt from Seth Bullock. There have been recent stabilization and preservation improvements made to the tower.
It is possible to climb to the top and enjoy great views of the area. There are also several picnic tables and a vault toilet.
If you have some extra time when you are in the Deadwood area, I would encourage you to check this out. I don’t believe they plow the road in the winter, so this is a summer and fall hike.
Directions to Friendship Tower from Deadwood
Head north on US Highway 85 out of Deadwood, turn onto Mt Roosevelt road at the Lodge at Deadwood and you will find the picnic area and tower about 2 miles down the road. Watch my video to see the drive.
Did you know there are dinosaurs looking over Rapid City? They’ve been there for nearly 80 years. This great free attraction in the Black Hills is a beloved part of Rapid City’s skyline.
Dinosaur Park in Rapid City is located at 940 Skyline Drive. There is no admission fee. The park is run by the city. Restrooms and a gift shop are open May 31st through September 6th each year.
My family and I love to stop by this park when we are in Rapid City. It gives the children a great opportunity to run and play. Plus, you get a great view of Rapid City and the Black Hills. Although, there is no cost to visit, you must climb several stairs if you wish to be rewarded with the stunning vista.
The city is near loads of outdoor recreational opportunities, you know, the over one million acres that makes up the Black Hills National Forest. However, you don’t even need to leave the city to get in some quality nature time. M Hill is located in Hanson-Larson Memorial Park (HLMP). This is a 300 plus acres park located right in the city! This is perfect to explore in summer or winter. With nearly 20 miles of trails, this park should keep you occupied for awhile.
There is plenty to explore in Rapid City, and much of it is free! If you are a fan of large natural areas in the city I would encourage you to visit Spearfish’s Lookout Mountain Park – over 700 acres of wild terrain to explore – right in the city.
Wilmarth Lake is located in Aurora County in Eastern South Dakota. The 103 acre lake is about 10 miles north and 4 miles west of Plankinton. It was constructed in 1936 as a WPA project and named after Fred Wilmarth who had farmed in the area since 1906. The lake is filled by Firesteel Creek.
I’d never been to the lake before and my daughters were ready for a little road trip, so we went to visit Lake Wilmarth. We arrived at the Lake via Highway 281. We turned west on 243rd Street and continued about 6 and half miles to the lake. It is a nice lake in a quiet setting.
There are two access roads. One on the far east end has shore access and along the dam and near the spillway. The Northwest access area has a vault toilet, dock and boat ramp. It is a nice wild life area with mature trees and plum thickets. There is some private land on the north side of the lake, watch for the no trespassing signs.
According to a 2011 GF&P survey, the lake is home to Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, bullheads, yellow perch, black crappie, northern pike and sunfish. The lake is a no wake lake, meaning boats may not travel any faster than 5 miles per hour. There is no beach. Shore fishing could be a bit tricky in places as cattails surround the lake.
I see this as great place to go canoeing or teach your children how to kayak. I doubt there is every a large crowd at the lake. Just a great place to enjoy the water and do some fishing.
The Northern end of the George S Mickelson Trail can be found in Deadwood South Dakota. This is a 109-mile trail that slices right through the middle of the Black Hills. A great way for walkers, runners, bicycle riders and horseback riders experience the beauty of the area.
The trail is a converted rail road bed and just beautiful all the way to Edgemont. If you ride the whole trail you will cross more than 100 bridges and travel through 4 rock tunnels. Use of the trail is free within city limits, but otherwise requires a pass you can purchase at the trailhead or online. You can even snowshoe on portions of the trail, then Englewood Trailhead is great for snowshoeing.
If you are up for a long ride, I would encourage you to get a ride to the Dumont Trailhead. From there the 16 mile trip is mostly downhill. A nice ride through the beautiful Northern Black Hills.
Other Recreation Options
There are plenty of other great outdoor recreations options in the Deadwood area too. Something for almost everyone. Short hikes, long hikes and even scenic drive.
Mount Roosevelt is just a few miles from town. This is a short loop hike. It takes you to Friendship tower and amazing views of the surrounding Black Hills and plains to the north. Watch my YouTube video to see how to drive to Mount Roosevelt.
Hiking to White Rocks will give you a bird’s eye view of Deadwood and the surrounding hills. You can even see Bear Butte from up there. My favorite way to go through Mount Moriah Cemetery and continue up to Seth and Martha Bullock’s grave, then head to the top of the hill, if you are not out breath, the view will take your breath away. There is a geocache up there too.
Spearfish Canyon is just a 20 minute drive from Deadwood and really cool waterfalls and plenty of hiking.
Devils Tower is over an hour drive away. I feel it is worth the drive. It is really an amazing natural feature and the nation’s first National Monument. There are several hiking options too.
Centennial Trail starts at Bear Butte and ends 111 miles later in Wind Cave National. Like the Mickelson Trail, it is a great way to explore the Black Hills National Forest. The Fort Meade and Alkali Creek trailheads are the closest to Deadwood.
Goat Island is in the middle of the Missouri River along the South Dakota and Nebraska Border. It is in-between Yankton and Vermillion. The closest boat ramp on the South Dakota side is Myron Grove, and Brooky Bottom on the Nebraska side. The island is part of the 59-Mile District of the Missouri National Recreational River.
The 4-mile long island has a storied past. Many locals also know it as Jakes Island, after a Vermillion attorney who raised watermelons and goats on the island. There had been others who claimed ownership over the years, but is currently under the management of the Federal Bureau of Land Management.
It is really a unique portion of the river that surrounds the island. The river is still “wild” in appearance. It has not been channelized, so it is much like the river Lewis and Clark would have encountered. Sand bars are numerous along this portion of the river as well. The flow can vary greatly depending on the amount of water released at the dam.
I had an opportunity to canoe this sections of the river, with a stop at Goat Island. I had never been on such a large river. It is quite the experience to get so close to the river. Some sections are nearly a mile wide, if you get a chance I would encourage you to explore the area.
Missouri National Recreational River website
Map of the river and island
Geocache on the island
Devil’s Bathtub is a great hike found in South Dakota’s Spearfish Canyon. This is just one of the neat places to visit when in the Northern Black Hills. Spearfish Canyon has a lot of unique natural features that are certainly worth exploring.
I didn’t have a lot of time to go hiking recently, but knew I could get one or two quick hikes in. I picked Devils Bathtub and Spearfish Falls. There are lots of areas in the canyon I love to visit, but it had been awhile since I’d been to the tub. It really isn’t a long hike.
Directions to Devil’s Bathtub
From Spearfish it is really easy to find where the trail starts, once you know what you are looking for. As you are traveling south on the scenic byway, you want to watch for the road “Cleopatra Place.” It is just a few miles south of Bridal Veil Falls. Pull into the small gravel parking lot.
Walk over the bridge across Spearfish Creek, then head right. You will see the trail. There is some private land here, be respectful and be sure to pickup all your trash. As you start the hike you will see a small bridge that crosses Sunshine Creek, cross that and the hike has started.
The trail follows the creek, weaving from one side to the other. There is a pretty good chance your feet will get wet on this hike. It is less than a mile to the tub. Watch out for the wedding tree on your way to the tub.
You will find a series of three tubs. They change depending on the water flow and time of year. Often there are small dams people build to allow the tubs to fill more. The water is always very cold, even on the hottest day of the year, but I still love to jump in the water.
If you had only time for one hike in Spearfish Canyon, this is the one to do. My second favorite has to be Community Caves, a shorter hike you won’t forget.
Deadwood Jam has always been one of my favorite events in Deadwood. Great music, outside on an early fall Black Hills day. What could be better?
Now, the weather is not always perfect, but there is always fun to be had during the Jam. 2014 doesn’t look like any exception. It should be a blast!
Friday September 12th 2014
Main Avenue Warehouse
Saturday September 13th 2014
Trampled Under Foot
Start planning for a great weekend of music. Follow the Deadwood Jam on Facebook for all the latest development.
Kool Deadwood Nights are quickly approaching. This end of summer event in the Northern Black Hills is popular. The free entertainment is especially a big draw – FREE Main Street concerts on Friday and Saturday night. And, don’t forget the Sock Hop kicks it all off on Thursday night.
Friday Nite August 22nd 2014
Starts off with Kid & Nic show (the every popular high energy band), DD and the Fayroh’s. And, the hedliner Starship with Mickey Thomas.
Saturday August 23rd 2014
Again Kid & Nice and DD and the Fayroh’s get the action started. Then the headliners Gary Puckett and Union Gap take the stage.
Don’t miss this great big end of summer event in Deadwood. Kool Deadwood Nites is an event you’ll truly remember. Visit the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce website for complete details.
We finally made to Shakespeare Garden in Wessington Springs for a night of live music. It is a beautiful setting to enjoy a lovely evening and listen to music. The gardens were full of blossoms and butterflies. Our children had a blast exploring the gardens and watching the fish in the small pond.
There are free concerts in the summer on select Thursdays. Bring your own chair and enjoy the lush setting. There are refreshment available for purchase and donations are gratefully accepted.
The gardens and house have a unique history. The Anne Hathaway Cottage was built by a Professor and Mrs. Shay when they retired from the local collage in 1932. It is a partial replica of Stratford-on-Avon.
The thatched roof was added in 1995. It is the only thatched roof in South Dakota. I found it interesting that a thatched roof will last 40 to 60 years. The ridge cap however, must be replaced every 8 to 10 years.
If you find yourself in the Wessington Springs area, be sure to stop by and visit. Also, check the official website for a schedule of events and more historic information.
Every June you have a chance to visit historic Galena in the Northern Black Hills. A chance to explore the historic gold and silver mining camp. Walk the old rail bed and get a feel for what it must have been like during it’s hey day.
The 2014 walk is scheduled for Saturday June 14th from 9am to 2pm. The historic walk can be 1 to 5 miles. Plus they will have food and music at the old school house..
This is a great opportunity for all the history buffs and people who like exploring the Black Hills. They post historic photos along the trail and locals are on hand to answer questions and explain some of the area’s history. You can visit the Vinegar Hill Cemetery and see the remains of the old Methodist church steeple.
For complete information be sure to visit the 1882 Galena School House website or read the flyer.
Galena is located south of Deadwood. Turn off highway 385 at Wild Bill’s Campground on to Galena Road. Follow the gravel road to Galena (about 3 miles) and there you will find people directing parking. Head to the old school house to register and get a map.
Once you complete the tour and haven’t had enough historic cemeteries yet, Deadwood has a couple worth visiting. Mount Moriah is the resting place of some of Deadwood’s most famous former residents like Wild Bill and Calamity Jane – plus a short hike above the cemetery will take you to the graves of Seth and Martha Bullock. Saint Ambrose is lesser know but equally interesting cemetery just across the gulch.