Devil’s Gulch – Garretson, South Dakota

devil1.jpgDevil’s Gulch – Garretson, South Dakota

A road off 5th Street in Garretson leads you to a tree hidden canyon known as Devil’s Gulch. It is a natural chasm which features scenic rock formations of red quartzite and is the home of the famous jump of outlaw Jesse James.

While standing at the foot bridge in Devil’s Gulch, imagine the outlaw Jesse James riding as fast as his horse can gallop because a posse from Northfield, Minnesota is hot on his trail. Jesse approaches the chasm, quickly summarizes the situation, and successfully coaxes his horse to jump the canyon and therefore escapes the posse. This legend happened in the Fall of 1876 where the foot bridge is now located.

When you first arrive at the Gulch you will see the Visitor Center.  This building houses many interesting artifacts and photographs on display as well as a map for your hiking tour.  The walking tour takes about an hour unless you want to actually take the time to sit and admire the views of the flowing river, the array of wildflowers and prairie grasses that are abundant to the area.  There is also a steel bridge now crossing the gulch to allow for you to get from one side to the other (without having to jump) but be prepared for virtigo….it’s a long way down! 

You will be amazed by the enormity of the palisades (both vertically and horizontally) which makes picture taking a challenge.  Although you will certainly want to try to capture some of these scenes you will probably want to just sit and look out over the area and lock the beauty in your mind.

Other stops along the trail include the Cedar Observation Point, Bottom Observation Point (you can enjoy the Gulch from above and below), the Devil’s Stairway, the Devil’s Kitchen and more. It’s really a very nice walking tour, and quite worthy of packing in a sack lunch for a prolonged sit-down somewhere on the way

There are many legends surrounding Devil’s Gulch which give the visitor the opportunity to step back in time with their imagination and live the legend that interests them the most.

Free entrance May – October. Guided one hour tour with a nominal charge vailable by reservation.

Phone: 605-594-3404 


  1. DonnyGrant says:

    What a spectacular place! When we lived in Rock Rapids it was a favorite spot for our children. Once while on motorcycles we met the great-grandson of the man where Jesse stayed. What a story. Go Visit!!!!!!!!!!!1

  2. Redgirl3 says:

    Beautiful location- esp. in summer. The rocky landscape almost seems out of place for easter SD. A hidden treasure.

  3. My husband and I found this place by accident several years ago. This year we are showing it to our grown children. Like a piece of history.