As I mentioned in my post about the Spearfish KOA, we had the pleasure of being in Spearfish, South Dakota for nearly five days, which is a long time for us to stay in one particular spot. Spearfish has a small town feel but was still large enough to offer us interesting things to explore without venturing too far.
Here are a few of the family-friendly things we did near Spearfish:
We spent a full afternoon at the Spearfish Rec & Aquatics Center, less than a 5-minute drive from the Spearfish KOA. We found admission into the water park to be super affordable – just $32 for our whole family for the entire day!
There are swimming pools, a kiddie area. . .
Rock climbing, a lazy river, a restaurant . . .
An obstacle course . . .which my son loved . . .
And some pretty exciting water slides. We rented a locker for $0.25 and locked up our stuff while we played in the water park. They have locker rooms on site for changing into your swim gear. We would definitely go to Spearfish Rec & Aquatics Center again!
Another afternoon we visited the DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery. One of the oldest fish hatcheries in the west, the fish hatchery building was built in 1899 to propagate, stock and establish trout populations in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming. The fish hatchery is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places and we found it an interesting place to tour with our kids.
Bring quarters – so you can buy fish food from the dispensers around the property. . . .
And feed the trout! Oh the kids loved this so much, especially my son who loves fish (and fishing).
Toss even one pebble of fish food into the water and the fish will all go after it.
I found the rail car interesting to tour. Before the invention of refrigerated tanker trucks, fish hatcheries used fish rail cars (around the 1920s) to transport fish to the lakes and rivers around the country! They call it the fish car era, a 66-year time in history that played an important roll in fisheries propagation.
Inside the small ice house (near the rail car) the kids enjoyed the exhibits on the food web and invasive species.
Between 20,000-30,000 rainbow trout are stocked out of the D.C. Booth Hatchery every year! Next time you’re in Spearfish, South Dakota we recommend checking it out!
And finally, we spent a morning at the Vore Buffalo Jump – located actually in Wyoming, it’s just a short 16 mile drive east of Spearfish on I-90. There is an admission fee of $7 a person or a maximum $20 for a family.
Open to the public, the Vore Buffalo Jump is an active archeological site created when gypsum soil was eroded – leaving a very steep-sided pit that Native American hunters used for hunting bison.
Basically the Native American hunters would stampede the bison in the direction of the pit, which was deep enough to kill the animals when they fell into it. The Vore site was used for killing and harvesting buffalo from about 1500 AD to 1800 AD!
Here’s a graphic of how the hole was used for killing buffalo.
And this is a graphic of the many years of buffalo bones buried under the site.
Only about 5% of this site has been unearthed. Every layer shows a transition in the years.
Down near the excavation area you’ll find exhibits and bones with a lot of historical information. You’ll also find some great educational displays near the main entrance.
And up above, near the main entrance they have two sandboxes filled with bones – which the kids can pretend to be archaeologists.
My kids loved brushing away the dirt, finding the bones. And if you find arrowheads you can buy them for $1 each. Each of our kids got an arrowhead to take home as a souvenir.
So that’s what we did together as a family in the Spearfish, South Dakota area! We were also close enough to take a day trip to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. More on that later . . .
Have you been to Spearfish and visited any of these places? Do you have other suggestions for family-friendly activities to do near Spearfish, South Dakota.
Wow, again I’m green eyed with envy. Such fun and interesting things y’all get to see.
I’m from the Black Hills originally, and just love how much stuff there is to do out there for those who live in the area, visit frequently, or have never been before. I remember visiting the fish hatchery as a kid and thinking it was so fun!
I really enjoy following along with your trip! Such an epic adventure for your family! Looking forward to what comes next!