OUTDOOR WEDDING LOCATIONS
There are many beautiful places to get married outdoors in the Black Hills. You might already have a special place, if you’ve been here before. Or you might discover one when you peek at the pictures below or scroll through the Photos Pages.
I often plan several weddings in one place on the same day (and I only choose beautiful places!), so that’s another way to choose.
Best of all, most of these locations are free.
But not downtown
Downtown Sturgis might not be right for your wedding. It is loud and literally wall-to-wall people, from all walks of life. After fifteen years of marrying Rally couples, I’ve found that most people prefer something a little secluded and private. They want to remember their wedding as the perfect mix: an intimate, personal reflection of their feelings for each other and their shared love of adventure, bikes and the freedom of riding.
Sturgis is, however, a crazy-good place to celebrate after your ceremony!
Bear in mind that very few places will be completely private because the Rally typically doubles the population of our entire state, concentrated in the western quarter of it! Still, most people are delighted, and very respectful, when they notice a wedding. You will certainly experience much well wishing!
A word about outdoor weddings
South Dakota is famous for, among other things, its sunshine. We also get some phenomenal thunderstorms. Usually, these happen in the late afternoon. They build, dump buckets, and then clear off in time for a nice sunset. Usually. August is pretty reliable for good weather BUT keep a back-up plan in mind.
Some of the areas listed below have picnic shelters where the ceremony could be held or where we could wait for the storm to pass. Free indoor locations are much harder to find. In fact, I don’t know of any!
Spearfish Canyon and Roughlock Falls
Roughlock Falls is at the top of Spearfish Canyon. Highway 14 meanders through the canyon and it is one of the prettiest rides in the Black Hills. Roughlock is a popular destination, but most people come to see the falls. A bit upstream is a beautiful area where the stream meanders before plunging into a ravine. It is flat, grassy, and surrounded by high rock walls. It’s a gorgeous wedding site.
Many people ask about Bridal Veil Falls, also in the canyon, because of its fitting name. Unfortunately, this small waterfall is right next to the road. The only pull-off is on the other side of road and it is crowded during the Rally. Even when it’s not the Rally, there is no private or secluded space near the falls.
All along the Spearfish Canyon road are pull-offs, and possible sites. Spearfish Creek flows all the way down the canyon and is accessible in many places.
There is a lodge at the top of Spearfish Canyon that may have meeting rooms that can be rented for an indoor wedding alternative. If you are concerned about this, contact them early. Spearfish Canyon Lodge/Resort 605-584-3435
Spearfish Falls is located just behind the Latchstring Inn, along a 3/4-mile hiking trail. The trail descends 110 feet, to the base of the falls. It’s beautiful and it tends to be more private because of the hike.
Mount Roosevelt, Deadwood
Mount Roosevelt rises just above Deadwood, and it offers amazing panoramic views, including Bear Butte in the east to Terry, Custer, and Harney Peaks in the south. A short hike will take you to Friendship Tower, a monument conceived by Seth Bullock to commemorate his friendship with Theodore Roosevelt. Beyond that, you can hike to viewing decks to gaze out over the northern hills.
Sylvan Lake is a jewel along Needles Highway, another of the incredible rides in the Black Hills. This lake is a classic alpine lake, surrounded by pine trees and granite spires. The lodge has a huge rock patio and a large grassy lawn lakeside, both of which it rents out specifically for weddings, but there are spots along the lake that anyone can use. Several trails take off from here, up to Harney Peak, the highest point east of the Rockies to the Alps.
Pactola, another alpine gem, is also surrounded by trees and granite. Several day-use areas offer possible locations for a wedding. Or you can rent a pontoon boat and get married in the middle of the lake!
Just across from Mount Coolidge Fire Lookout on Highway 87 in Custer State Park, this overlook offers beautiful views and a covered log deck (which could come in handy if the weather is damp).
Canyon Lake Park, Rapid City
This park offers several possible wedding locations, including a gazebo on an island in the middle of the lake!
Custer State Park
Known for its abundance of wildlife, including buffalo, Custer State Park is a must-do ride. Throughout the park, you will discover little trails, pull-offs, and gravel roads that beg to be explored. One trail to consider for a potential wedding site is the Grace Coolidge trail from Highway 16 to Center Lake. Small ponds dot the trail, each offering trout fishing and beautiful scenes. Center, Stockade, and Legion lakes are all beautiful possibilities, as are the picnic grounds throughout the park, and the lookout at Mt. Coolidge.
All of the lodges within the park have facilities for weddings but they must be booked well in advance, and there are fees associated. Bluebell Lodge has an outdoor chapel. Coolidge Lodge has a small schoolhouse/church nearby. You may contact the Custer State Park Resort Company for more information, 800-658-3530.
Bismarck Lake appears to be inside of Custer State Park, but it’s really part of the Black Hills National Forest. There’s a wide wooden platform overlooking the lake, as well as big granite boulders and pine trees for shade. You can ride to the platform, or take a walk along the boardwalk around the edge of the lake.
Spearfish Park, Spearfish
Spearfish Park has a long path that winds along Spearfish Creek and is edged by canyon walls. Big trees create shade and the sounds of the creek make this a very accessible and pretty option. There is also a band shelter in case of rain.
Indian Springs is just across the street from Spearfish Park. It is more secluded, with a pond, small waterfall, and a sweet little gazebo, just right for small weddings.
Wilson Park, Rapid City
Just off Mt. Rushmore Road and surrounded by little homes from the early 1900s, this park has a large gazebo offering shade or shelter in inclement weather. The gardens are beautiful and overflowing with flowers in August.
Noordemeyer formal gardens, Rapid City
A small set of formal gardens on the west side of Rapid City.
Memorial Park Rose Garden near the Civic Center, Rapid City [enlarge photo]
The roses are fragrant and many, and the setting is beautiful. Memorial Lake is in view and huge trees surround the area. The Civic Center is busy during the Rally but this park is to the south side of it. You’d hear the rumble of motorcycles while exchanging your vows!
Falling Rock [enlarge photo]
Just off of Hwy 44 west of Rapid City is a spectacular Limestone canyon, with Rapid Creek snaking along the bottom of it. It’s a popular rock-climbing destination, but the view from the top, thankfully, is accessible with a short hike. The parking area is very close to the highway.
I'm happy to make recommendations about possible locations. Just call or email.
Mary, thank you so much. We really loved the setting, everything felt so natural and right. We are very happy and will always remember you and the falls ...Thank you again.
Dana & Connie