Falling Rock combines dense pine forest and a deep, rocky canyon for a gorgeous view.

The view from Falling Rock still takes my breath away every time.

Located on Black Hills National Forest land, the scenic Dark Canyon overlook gets a bad rap sometimes for being the site of tragedy, and it’s true that it can be dangerous if you’re not careful.

The weathered memorial to a young child who died there in 2005 won’t let you forget that fact.

But ever since I moved to Rapid City, Falling Rock has been one of my favorite places to take friends and family in town on vacation. The combination of dense pine forest, deep, rocky canyon and Rapid Creek is a good selling point for a return visit to the Black Hills.

What keeps me coming back to Falling Rock, though, is how much I love that view myself.

On many visits, I find myself just staring into the distance for what feels like hours, setting aside the stresses of everyday life and soaking in everything around me.

In the late afternoon, the light is gorgeous as it spills through the trees, and at night, the stars put on a pretty good show for being just a few miles outside of Rapid City. 

I’ve had many a long conversation with a friend sitting on those rocks, and more often than not, we’ll be the only ones there. I’ve been told climbers also like to take advantage of the cliff walls below.

The walk to the canyon rim is an easy one if you follow the well-worn path. I’ve seen people do it in flip-flops, but I would recommend at least tennis shoes.

To get to the very edge, you do have to jump over a narrow gap in the rocks, but you can get to the same place by climbing down into the shallow crevice and then hoisting yourself back up. 

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When I took my parents a couple of summers ago, my dad, who is not particularly sure-footed, didn’t make the leap and found a shady spot farther inland to sit instead. The view wasn’t any less spectacular from there.

There are no guardrails at Falling Rock, so whenever I visit, I always keep safety in mind and watch where I step.

To be honest, small children, alcohol and horseplay are probably better left at home.

But trust me – the view is worth the extra precautions.

Getting there

From Interstate 90, take Exit 57 and turn right onto Omaha Street. At the first traffic light, turn left onto Mountain View Road. Follow Mountain View until it merges with Jackson Boulevard, taking a slight right onto Jackson.

Continue on Jackson Boulevard, which is also S.D. Highway 44, for about 6.5 miles. Falling Rock Road will be on the left.

The walking trail starts at the second vehicle pull-in off Falling Rock Road. 

Emilie Rusch is a Rapid City Journal staff writer. Contact her at 394-8453 or emilie.rusch@rapidcityjournal.com.

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