10 Of The Best Waterfalls in South Dakota (With Photos)

Written by Volia Nikaci
Published: June 3, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Ravi Natarajan
Share this post on:

South Dakota is a sparsely populated state in the Midwest US where Mount Rushmore sits, a granite rock that features the likenesses of four U.S. presidents carved into it. Despite what you may think, South Dakota has some of the most beautiful terrains in the country. When compared to other states, South Dakota has relatively few waterfalls. Therefore, those that are there are even more spectacular. 

That’s why we went out of our way to find hiking paths with waterfalls in South Dakota that are absolutely worth visiting! Here are ten incredible waterfalls in South Dakota that few people know about.

1. Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls Dakota
From the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, Bridal Veil Falls is the easiest waterfall to see of the three in Spearfish Canyon.

iStock.com/hkuchera

Location:Spearfish, SD
Nearby Attractions:Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway
Animals to See:Wild Turkey, Deer

The Black Hills are home to numerous spectacular waterfalls in South Dakota, such as Bridal Veil Falls. Spearfish Canyon’s Bridal Veil Falls tumbles 60 feet down a cliff and is easy to access. Nearby, there’s a parking lot and an observation deck where you can watch the falls. The waterfall is most beautiful in the spring when the melting snow increases the flow of water.

2. Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls South Dakota
Sioux Falls Park in Sioux Falls is home to one of the most magnificent waterfalls in South Dakota.

jackiekuehlphoto/Shutterstock.com

Location:Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Nearby Attractions:Sioux Falls Park
Animals to See:Raccoons, Jays

Among the 120 acres of Sioux Falls Park, the falls are probably the most popular attraction. At a height of more than 100 feet, the water begins to fall at a rate of dozens of gallons per second. Sioux Falls dates back to the mid-nineteenth century, and many historic structures can be found inside the park. For example, Queen Bee Mill is a seven-story building that was only in operation for two years but survived until today.

3. Cascade Falls

Location:Fall River County, South Dakota
Nearby Attractions:Hot Springs
Animals to See:Chinese Ring-necked Pheasants, Prairie Dogs

The next destination is not just a waterfall, but also a swimming pool near Hot Springs, South Dakota! The waterfalls themselves only have a 10-15 foot drop. However, Cascade Falls is a favorite swimming spot. A natural pool beneath the waterfalls and a spring two kilometers above provide hot water for the falls. On average, the temperature is 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A beautiful backdrop and some beautiful plants have grown around the water, making it a perfect spot to relax and unwind.

4. Spearfish Falls

Spearfish Falls in Black Hills State Forest
Spearfish Falls, located in the middle of Spearfish Canyon, is one of three renowned waterfalls in the northern Black Hills.

iStock.com/keeweeboy

Location:Spearfish, SD
Nearby Attractions:Spearfish Canyon
Animals to See:Mountain Goats, Bluebirds

Located in the Savoy area, Spearfish Falls is the third waterfall in Spearfish Canyon. You can see the falls from an observation platform at the Latchstring Restaurant, where the walk to them begins. However, if you want a closer look, the spectacular 80-foot falls are only a short hike away. The route is less than a mile long, but it can be slippery, so wear appropriate footwear.

5. Roughlock Falls

Roughlock Falls South Dakota
Roughlock Falls is one of the most visited waterfalls in South Dakota.

iStock.com/hkuchera

Location:South Lawrence, SD
Nearby Attractions:Spearhead Canyon
Animals to See:Porcupines, Owls

Spearfish Canyon’s second waterfall is Roughlock Falls. The waterfall has several levels and is a great place to pause and watch the water. There’s a fascinating history to Spearfish Falls. Early in the 19th century, a railroad crossed the falls. However, the water was redirected to power a gold mine a century later. After the water dried up, the falls didn’t reappear until 2003, when the water returned to its former channel.

6. Devil’s Gulch

Devil's Gulch South Dakota
Legend has it that one of renowned criminal Jesse James’ greatest escapes occurred at Devil’s Gulch.

Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

Location:Garretson, South Dakota
Nearby Attractions:Palisades State Park
Animals to See:Woodpeckers, Ducks

Legend has it that bandit Jesse James rode over Devil’s Gulch to escape a posse. Even if the myth is not accurate, Devil’s Gulch Park offers a delightful opportunity to see Split Rock Creek’s modest, flowing waterfall in South Dakota. The Devil’s Falls Crossbridge, from which you can view the cascade, is one of many hiking paths and footbridges you can enjoy throughout the gorge. Check out the gorge for yourself and see if you believe that a horse could leap it!

7. Hippie Hole

Location:Keystone, South Dakota
Nearby Attractions:Black Hills National Forest
Animals to See:Mountain Lions, Bison

If you have a car that can handle rocky dirt roads, you won’t have any problem visiting Hippie Hole. The drive to the trailhead is difficult, but once there, the hike is only 0.6 miles round trip. Despite the easy climb, you’ll be glad to splash in the water when you get to the waterfalls. You can sunbathe and jump off the rocks. There’s also a path down to the water’s edge to soak up the sun, but be aware that the terrain is steep on the way back!

8. Grizzly Bear Falls

Location:Pennington County, South Dakota
Nearby Attractions:Mount Rushmore
Animals to See:Yellow-bellied Marmot, Mule Deer

Although Grizzly Bear Falls is a small waterfall, its proximity to Mount Rushmore and the scenic hike to reach it makes it worthwhile. Grizzly Bear Creek flows into the waterfall, and you begin your hike at the Grizzly Creek Primitive Campground. This small, hidden waterfall in South Dakota depends on the flow of water, so the best time of year to visit is in the spring when there is more water.

9. Thunderhead Falls

Location:Rapid City, SD
Nearby Attractions:Mount Rushmore
Animals to See:American Red Squirrel, Rocky Mountain Goats

Rapid City, the gateway to Mount Rushmore, is about 10 miles from these falls, which are part of a decommissioned mine. The falls cascade more than 30 feet from the mine. If you want to know where the water drips in the mine, you can actually look inside it before you even go out. In fact, you will hear the water before you even see it! This is one waterfall in South Dakota that you won’t want to miss out on.

10. Baker’s Falls

Location:Black Hills, SD
Nearby Attractions:Spearfish Canyon
Animals to See:Wild Turkeys, American Crow

Josef Fassbender, whose photography collection is greatly admired today, captured the mysterious Baker’s Falls in a black and white photograph taken in the 1920s. It must have been a familiar location to him as he lived nearby, but in recent years, it has generated substantial controversy – where are they located? In other words, this shot is of Community Cave, which has a frozen column of ice every winter. When the ice is not yet frozen, it is filled with the sound of falling water. In the canyon, there are three big waterfalls to view, so you should make sure to include this one if you’re in the area.

Letchworth State Park Upper & Middle Falls New York
Letchworth State Park, sometimes referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the East," is a breathtaking region in the eastern United States
iStock.com/Ravi Natarajan
Share this post on:
About the Author

Volia Nikaci is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.