Black Hills (Spearfish Canyon and South Seas)
Consider the Black Hills as your next Summer or Fall climbing vacation. You can check Mount Rushmore off your bucket list, and the Black Hills area is full of cute towns, cafes, and tons of climbing. You can even combine the Black Hills with a trip to Devil’s Tower! We only stayed a few days, so we checked out climbs near Wrinkled Rock Campground and in Spearfish Canyon. The two areas are just an hour apart, but the climbing styles are very different. Wrinkled Rock Campground is a few minutes from Mount Rushmore and the town of Keystone, and one hour west is the town of Spearfish.
You don’t need visit the Mount Rushmore park itself to get a great view of the sculpture! Just drive to Wrinkled Rock Campground, and you’e bound to see some profile views.
Wrinkled Rock climbs (also called the South Seas area) are on granite domes and spires. The climbs are technical, tall, and crimpy. Bring your finger strength! The approach is minimal.
Spearfish Canyon climbs are similar to Ten Sleep climbing – vertical to slightly overhanging cliff bands of limestone with super fun pockets. The approaches are 10-15 minutes. The only real difference is that Spearfish has fewer crowds!
Wrinkled Rock Campground has free, dispersed camping. Many people just sleep in their vehicles, but some people set up tents. From here, you can walk to a wide variety of single pitch sport climbs. Bring your own water and refill up in Keystone. There is a pit toilet.
The town of Spearfish, about thirty minutes from some of the best Spearfish Canyon climbs, has a city campground. The Spearfish City Campground has showers, toilets, picnic tables, water, and designated campsites. Campsites are $25/site/night. During the Rally, the campground charts $21/person/night. We asked around about cheaper official camping near Spearfish Canyon, but we didn’t discover any.
You should find whatever you need in the towns of Keystone (near Wrinkled Rock) or Spearfish. Both have good cafes with wifi.
When NOT to Visit
Summer is an excellent time to visit – but expect crowds and thousands of motorcycles during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally! The Rally takes place the first two weeks of August, and bikers come from all over the US and Canada to drink beer and show off their bikes. The Wrinkled Rock Campground still had space during the Sturgis Rally, but the Spearfish City campground was completely full. We lucked out and grabbed a campsite when one group left the Rally early.