We haven't been through Spearfish Canyon yet this autumn, but we did get the chance to see the forest yesterday along U.S. 85 at the Wyoming-South Dakota border, near O'Neil Pass. Even though the trees at the lower elevations are still fairly green, the forest in the higher elevations is super colorful. With thick stands of birch and aspen, yellows and oranges are the dominant colors, but there are some smatterings of red in the undergrowth and where woodbine crawls up rock faces and sturdy trees. With the dark evergreen hues of the pines and spruce, it's a super beautiful time to see the hills.
And it seems like it might last a little longer than normal. The weather is going to be warm and sunny for the foreseeable future, so as long as we don't get a freak windstorm that knocks all the leaves off the trees, we'll get a good couple weekends of prime viewing time.
But prepare for a little competition: Spearfish Canyon tends to get pretty crowded with leaf peepers this time of year, and the peak colors are coinciding with some pretty popular special events (the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood this weekend, the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup on Monday, and Deadwood's Oktoberfest next weekend). If you've got the time, do yourself a favor and find some secluded forest service roads off the main throughways. The extra privacy will be worth it.