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Difficulty II
Length 2 Miles
Flow Range 65 - 350 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 58 minutes ago 73.4 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/05/2019 2:35 pm

River Description

Spearfish Creek is a clear stream that runs through the town of Spearfish. The creek used to flow freely but in the early part of the 20th century Homestake Gold mine built a series of low head dams to control the creek for the production of electricity.  However, with the closing of Homestake in 2002, renewed efforts are underway to remove the dams. Time will tell.

The section that most people run is from the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery in the city park down to the Old US 14 bridge near Valley Corner.

Whether it be the expert kayaker playing their way down, doing eddyline cartwheeels and splatwheels, or the beginner, full of adrenline, worried about the falls in the park or swimming the S-turns, Spearfish Creek has a lot to offer for water in the Black Hills. . You can bang your way down in January at 50 cfs if you really need to get wet or throw down in the massive ledge hole that forms during a June thunderstorm.

At 80 feet per mile, the action on Spearfish Creek is continuous Class II. Beginners' big smiles and wild talk about the rapids testify to the adrenaline rush just delivered and experts in low volume play boats can find enough play to get a good workout. Third Street eddyline offers a great place to tune up your flat water skills. The low head dam just above Utah St. bridge has brought smiles to many and swims to others (which also brought smiles to many). There are numerous splat rocks, a few deep eddylines, and the ever popular lawn splat spots that dot the creek side.

During the hot summer months you'll share the creek with local kids in innertubes. During the dead of winter only a few die hard locals with a serious need to get wet will be found.

Class II paddlers will want to be aware of the "Falls" a 4' cascading drop in the city park. It generally doesn't cause too much to worry about. It gives beginners wide eyes but I've never seen anyone swim because of it. Just downstream of the falls, maybe 100 yards, is a nice beginner surf wave formed by a piece of concrete. Another 75 yards or so and you'll be at the S-turns. This little rapid causes more swims than any other place on the creek. You'll want to avoid the river-right rock towards the bottom of the rapid.

Wood can be a problem on the creek at times so be alert. The new Nash St. bridge may cause problems during times of high water. At normal flows you'll have about 3' of clearance under the bridge. If the water is muddy please inspect this bridge before getting in as there are no good eddies above it. Wood tends to collect here and it would not be a good place to be. Below Utah bridge and just past the geodesic dome home is another rapid of concern - 'Squeeze Play'. As the creek turns and winds it way among the willows it picks up speed and squeezes down to about 6' wide. A few more drops add to the excitement just after the squeeze. Things mellow out slightly after that for the flat home stretch.  Continue on to the end of town and take out directly under the service road bridge.  Warning: this is only 50 yards upstream from a small concrete spillway (8 ft tall) that would be no good to run.  Don't go further than the bridge.

To find the put-in, take exit 12 off of I-90 and head into town on Jackson Street. Proceed to the second light and turn left on Canyon Street. Follow Canyon through the stop signs and into the city park and park on the right just before the bridge.  Or continue slightly in to the city campground and put into the Hydro Plant discharge pool to start off with a small 3 footer.  Don't worry, a chain link fence is there to separate you from any danger the plant could impose.

To find the take-out, take exit 12 off of I-90, take the service road west, also known as Old US 14, and park at the small gravel parking lot on the left immediately after crossing the bridge.  Walk down the gravel and you will find yourself right at the bank of the creek.

Rapid Descriptions


Gage Descriptions

USGS gauge in Spearfish City Park below fish hatchery. If water is high please inspect Nash St. Bridge for safety. If you're a class II paddler don't get on over 150 cfs. Anything over 250cfs and Spearfish Creek is in flood stage. The play starts to get really good but the bridges and trees floating downstream start to get serious.


Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




Aaron Ploog


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1202251 05/24/13 Aaron Ploog 2013 Update
1193748 05/09/05 n/a n/a
1212730 06/05/19 Aaron Ploog updated description
1202381 07/13/13 Aaron Ploog