Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Roads & Routes
Fall for a Black Hills Autumn, with Scenic Drives, a Leisurely Pace and Beautiful Weather
Spearfish Canyon South Dakota in the fall is worth the splurge of renting a convertible. But wear a sweater. Gold and orange spill down the canyon, bleeding into the creek that lures fly fishermen from all over the country. Park the car for an easy hike to one of the waterfalls. Stop for lunch and some regional fare—great beef, wild game or fresh fish.
Needles Highway is another must-drive in the early fall. The road is made for a small, sporty car (definitely not for a motorhome) or a motorcycle. With bridges, tunnels and breath-catching views of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, Needles Highway never fails to meet expectations. Just be sure to make this drive before mid-October. The road is closed yearly in November because it becomes impassable in the winter. In recent years it has also been closed early to allow management of the mountain pine beetle-infested areas (the rust-red trees are supposed to be green).
Highway 385 between Deadwood and Hill City is another trip worth taking. It winds through forests of Ponderosa pine, which transition into Black Hills Spruce as you get into the Northern Hills. No matter which direction you drive, Hill City and Deadwood are both picturesque destinations. Deadwood is known for its multitude of gambling opportunities, but it’s heavily dusted with a notorious past that still haunts the town. It’s a town where legends—including Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane—were made and buried. Visitors can take in some of that history at the Adams House and Museum, Saloon Number 10 and Mount Moriah Cemetery.
Hill City offers a quieter take on the history of the Hills. It was one of the mining towns that stuck around long enough to become a tourist destination. Its proximity to Mount Rushmore National Memorial draws families for a nostalgic road trip, but once Labor Day is over, the area is left largely to those who prefer a more leisurely pace.
The wineries in the area cater to those visitors and stay open year-round. One of the most popular wineries is Prairie Berry, just three and a half miles northeast of Hill City. Prairie Berry is a destination for any time of the year, with a shaded patio for the days you put the top down and a fireplace for when you can see your breath.
This family-owned winery features many wines that are made from local fruit and grapes. The family that owns the winery has been making wines from the fruit of South Dakota’s prairie since 1876. The winemaker, Sandi, is the fifth generation of her family to create wines that offer a taste of South Dakota. But she’s the first generation of her family to earn more than 600 awards for her wines.
From dry Phat Hogg Chardonnay to fruity-sweet Red Ass Rhubarb and Concord Calamity Jane, Prairie Berry offers wines of character for every character.
Prairie Berry is a popular destination for lunch or an early supper. Gourmet soups, sandwiches, salads, desserts and pizzas feature fresh, seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. Prairie Berry’s Kitchen was named in Midwest Living’s Best of the Midwest guide and has earned quite a reputation on www.tripadvisor.com.