Spearfish was established shortly after mining in Lead-Deadwood took off. It became a commerce town, a place for families to build a community close to the mines but far from the chaos. With the upper and lower valleys of Spearfish blessed with fertile soil, it was also a great place where families could establish farming!
Fun Facts about Spearfish
- Did you know Spearfish holds the world record for temperature swings?
- Spearfish Creek is one of the only bodies of water in the world that freezes from the bottom up.The rapid current prevents ice from forming on the top layer. Instead, ice begins to form on the bottom where the rocky creek bed creates enough friction to slow the water down enough to freeze. If you’re into fishing, this phenomenon makes year-round fishing possible!
- Spearfish’s mascot is a rainbow trout, even though these fish are not native to South Dakota.
Today, locals still pride themselves on community and welcome visitors and families. Spearfish is a great place to escape outdoors, and has something for all ages!
Before exploring the town and attractions, stop by Visit Spearfish, the visitor center, to pick up free informational packets that will guide you through the perfect day, afternoon, or weekend with the family. “There really isn’t a whole lot here that isn’t kid-friendly,” says Bailey Sadowsky, Sales and Communications Coordinator for the Spearfish Chamber, but here are some top spots that will appeal to children of all ages!
With free admission, this historic fish hatchery is one of the best stops for families visiting Spearfish. Constructed in the late 1890s, the D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery is considered one of the oldest operating hatcheries in the country dedicated to fish culture and resource management.
Visitors are welcome to stroll the hatchery grounds from dawn to dusk any day of the week, 365 days a year. The hatchery spans 10 acres; families can stroll along the two trails outlining the boundaries of the hatchery site, feed the trout, and watch them through the underwater viewing windows.
Note: The Pond Gift Shop, Von Bayer Museum, Railcar, and Booth House are only open during the summer season from mid-May through the end of September. Tours are available through September from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on a rolling as-needed basis. Stop by for great interpretive tours from our volunteers! **With COVID-19, their policies may have changed. Please contact the hatchery directly at 605-642-7730 for questions/concerns.
Explore a little history from South Dakota and four surrounding states (North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana). From Old West pioneers and American Indians to ranching and transportation, the High Plains Western Heritage Center has six categories from which to browse.
After checking out the interior exhibits, head outside and look at the furnished one-room schoolhouse, homestead log cabin, and antique farm/ranch equipment. The center also owns five long-horned steer that they usually have for visitors to look at, but switched it up this year to a mare and her foal. If the horses get close enough to the fence line, guests are able to pet them (they’re very friendly!).
The center also hosts the Cowboy Supper and Show. Plan your visit around this unique experience and great food, catered by local favorite Cheyenne Crossing. $30 gets you dinner, a show, and access to the exhibits in the Heritage Center.
Walk/Bike the Rec Path
Spearfish has more than seven miles of rec path and 17 parks and playgrounds.
New this year, leaders developed a Spearfish Story Walk® along the bike path between Jorgensen and Evans Park. With 15 books spanning about a mile of the path, families can adventure through each page with instructions to hop, skip, etc. to the next installation. The Story Walk is scheduled to open June 26, 2020.
“Each year Leadership Spearfish is asked to complete a project that will benefit the community; this year they chose to implement the Story Walk, and in years past they’ve chosen to do wraps on utility boxes to beautify Spearfish and place bike stations around the rec paths, among other things,” Melissa Barth, Executive Director for the Spearfish Chamber, explains.
Stop at one of the parks along the way for a picnic or to take a break while the kids burn off energy on the playground equipment. Two parks in Spearfish (Salem and Jorgensen) have an all-inclusive playground, making them more accessible to children with special needs. When you’re done, pack up the car and head to Leones’ Creamery for a delicious local sweet treat!
Splash Around the Creek
In the summer, head to the creek to cool off. The city park on S. Canyon St. is a great place for families. With a basketball court, outdoor ice rink, playground, picnic areas, and pavilion for special events, kids can enjoy easy access to Spearfish Creek. This playground is conveniently located right next to the Spearfish Campground and fish hatchery!
The Matthews Opera House is a cultural gem still standing on its original Main Street location more than 100 years after construction. Thousands of performers have graced the Matthews historic stage over the last century. The Matthews continues to inspire and connect the community of Spearfish, enriching lives now and into the future.
Explore local art and tour the Fine Arts Gallery as you step into the Matthews. Around each corner, and occasionally even on the ceiling, you will find bold, innovative, and diverse art pieces in every medium. If your kids would rather create art than explore it, send them over to the light-up art table area while you browse the selection.
Another free attraction, the gallery is open year-round. Times vary.
Other Locations and Nearby Attractions
- Termesphere Gallery – Chat with local artist Dick Termes about his unique perspective and explore more than 100 pieces of his work at the Termesphere Gallery.
- Aquatics & Rec Center – Fun and fitness in one spot! Enjoy the unique outdoor water park, complete with three water slides, a climbing wall, splash pad, and more. Kids three and under are free!
- Lucky Strike Lanes – Nothing wrong with a little family competition! Go bowling with the whole family.
- The Art Nest Gallery – Discover more local art in the Old City Hall building.
- Vore Buffalo Jump – Learn more about the rich cultures and fascinating history of the Plains Indians at this active excavation site. With only 10 percent of the site excavated, there’s potential for decades of scientific research in several disciplines. The site is only 20 minutes outside of Spearfish, just past the Wyoming border.
- Downtown Friday Nights – Free music and entertainment with local food vendors.
Note: Due to COVID-19 several of these attractions/businesses are closed until further notice. Please contact them directly for further information.
WORDS & PHOTOS BY SARAH RICHARDS