Thunderhead Falls

with No Comments

You reach Thunderhead Falls by pulling off highway 44 west of Rapid City, feeling lost on a gravel road that's not well marked, buying a ticket, and trudging unguided into an old horizontal mine drift. A cold stream rushes along the underground path for a couple hundred yards, fed by the waterfall that drops from a hole in the ceiling. Thunderhead's flow is perpetually strong and noisy. You stand there, very likely having the dimly lit cavern all to yourself, and you start thinking. So much more could be done here! An interpretive video! Dining and wine on a deck overlooking the stream where it flows from the mountainside! A new exit tunnel blasted into a classy gift shop! That's when you must turn off your imagination and let Thunderhead -- wonderfully underdeveloped -- speak. Absorb this experience. You've got a rare type of waterfall all to yourself, close enough to feel its spray. You're deep inside the rocky heart of the Black Hills. You'll never have a moment quite like this again in your life.

10940 W Hwy 44, Rapid City, SD 57702

Follow Paul Higbee:

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.

Latest posts from