Bridal Veil Falls

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Bridal Veil Falls can embarrass you. It's visible from the Spearfish Canyon highway (there's even a new observation deck) and when it cascades full in spring it's spectacular. It roars and sprays mist, cascading a hundred feet. So a few weeks later you decide to take out-of-state friends up there, but now it's reduced to a trickle. And you know your friends are thinking, "This is what South Dakotans consider a waterfall?" Wait to visit in August and it looks like someone ran a garden hose to the canyon's rim to create a funny mock waterfall.

That's Bridal Veil for you, a kind of gauge for knowing how much ground water is moving through the Black Hills. I've know people who, when there's a flood threat, drive to the waterfall to check conditions rather than listen to forecasters.

But back to embarrassment. In winter Bridal Veil Falls is transformed into one of the nation's best ice climbing venues. A few years ago Spearfish people drove up to observe, and observed more than they wanted. A climber decided to make the long, cold climb stark naked. Naturally the stunt made headlines, but the press found no one able to make a guess as to why anyone would attempt such a climb.

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Paul writes about the Black Hills for in-flight airline publications, academic magazines, South Dakota Magazine, public TV, newspapers and websites. He is the author of five books, all Black Hills themed. He lives in the Black Hills. He's obviously no Renaissance Man with varied interests, but if the Black Hills are your thing, he's your guy.

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