Located deep in Spearfish Canyon, Long Valley Picnic Area is an absolutely delightful place to stop for a break. This South Dakota hidden gem is conveniently close to many of the area's most popular attractions including Spearfish Falls and Roughlock Falls.
Long Valley is a small picnic area with only about half a dozen tables, each with its own private little site and parking spot. The tall pine trees and thick forest add to the privacy, give shade, and also provide plenty of places to attach tie-out cables for the dogs.
This was a quiet spot except for the sounds of singing birds and dynamic Spearfish Creek flowing in the background. Chipmunks darted all about, much to the excitement of the girls. This was a truly beautiful place to enjoy a meal (or just hang out and take a break).
The dogs enjoyed laying in the shade while their lunch was prepared. This was a relaxing place to rest up between hikes and activities. The girls were very content here, happy in the tranquil forest while watching wildlife scurry about.
Spearfish Creek flowed splendidly along the backside of the picnic grounds. A short interpretive trail with informational signs about the area followed the creek. They taught about the history of the canyon, specifically that this was once the route of an historic railway that has long since been replaced by paved highways.
There were spots along the trail that would be great for fishing. However, there weren't many places for the dogs to venture into the water (although they were determined to try). Up and down the creek, the views of the canyon were beautiful. The arresting cliff walls rose up on all sides around us, adding to the majesty of this unique place.
After lunch the dogs took their time here enjoying the scenery, watching the flowing water, and being on high alert for critters.
Long Valley Picnic Area is free to use, and is open year-round from 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM. There are no trash receptacles so pack-in/pack-out rules apply. There's also no drinking water, but there is a bathroom available on site. Grills were located at each table for cooking hot food.
Even though it is centrally located within Spearfish Canyon, the picnic area wasn't too crowded. Other people came and went but due to the isolated configuration of the tables it still felt private, like we had this little section of the world all to ourselves. This was the perfect place to enjoy a meal before deciding what or where to explore next.