Category Archives: Winter Sports

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Snowshoe Adventure

 Winter. Winter! Winter!! Winter!! Aaahhhhhhh! Wait, wait, don’t fight it any longer. Be strong, get out there and enjoy the stark, quiet beauty that only a four-foot blanket of sparkling snow can create. Really, it’s a time of year when you can hear the forest snoring. You can glide gently past on a pair of skis or trudge lightly on the fluffy pillow of snow.

 I started one of the best days this winter in Spearfish, South Dakota. There are many great accommodations in Spearfish, but being a social bug, I stayed with friends. We woke up early to have breakfast at the Vanilla Bean Bakery and Café. There’s no way to leave this place feeling bad.

 We drove north on scenic Highway 14 through Spearfish Canyon. This drive, on its own, is a great outing. You cannot help but admire the crystal, clear waters of Spearfish Creek, the pinkish, yellow cliffs and the rushing water of Roughlock and Bridal Veil Falls. Heading west at Cheyenne crossing, we drove Highway 85 toward Trailshead Lodge.

 Ten miles down the road put us at our destination, the Eagle Cliff trailhead. This system of trails can be utilized in both the summer and winter. However, in the winter, one of the trails is groomed for cross country skiing, which makes it….awesome! We were there to snowshoe though, so we picked the snowshoe route, careful not to leave our tracks on the groomed cross country ski track.

 The 3.4 mile loop led us through the sleepy, snow blanketed forest from great lookout points to open clearings perfect for snow angels. There were old tracks on the trail but on this particular day we had the trail to ourselves. Every time we stopped we were immersed in the tranquil beauty and quiet serenity of the white forest. Any stresses I had slowly slipped away in the frosty air and stayed buried in the sleepy snow.

 Toward the end of the hike giant snowflakes began to fall, as if conjured to cover up the single set of tracks we had left on winters’ bed.

 We drove back down the mountain stopping at Cheyenne Crossing to warm up with a hot drink and some food. The big flakes continued to fall as we made our way back down Spearfish Canyon to our beginning point. Winter, winter, winter, winter, you won’t last long.

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Ice Climbing in South Dakota

February is the perfect time of year to go ice climbing in South Dakota. By now, the waterfalls have frozen to form challenging routes to the top. It’s the one time of year that you can “walk on water” in South Dakota.


The Black Hills provide many of these opportunities. In Spearfish Canyon you can climb routes like Eleventh Hour Gulch, CommunityCaves and Bridal Veil Falls. There are also two small flows of ice on either side of Bridal Veil that offer their own challenges.

A one-hour hike from the trailhead to get to the frozen flows at Crow Peak west of Spearfish is worth the effort, according to those who have tried it. It takes lots of snow and runoff to create a challenging chunk of ice here, so check the conditions before you head out.

Tackling one of the Cathedral spires along the Needles Highway or SylvanLake presents its own wintertime challenges. Two highly popular climbs are Honeybear near SylvanLake in Custer State Park and PalmerCreek near the Black Hills’ highest mountain, Harney Peak near Hill City.


 The Black Hills’ largest formation and most challenging ice climbing can be found on the backside of Harney Peak. It’s best to plan ahead for this trip as it is a six mile hike into the Harney Ice Flow.

 It’s always good to have advice from those who do it best. Below are some links to connect you to the climbers in the area.

Black Hills Climbers

is a local coalition that works on keeping trails and climbing routes open and clean. 



Guides and Rentals:


·Sylvan Rocks


·Black Hills Climbing

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Ski South Dakota


The snow is not waiting this year. Neither should those planning the perfect ski escape. Whether it is downhill, cross-country, or on a snowmobile, this South Dakota winter is sure to provide the experience sought by those who enjoy any type of skiing.

With better than average early snowfall, the base is already being established in the western half of South Dakota. The slopes of South Dakota’s two largest ski areas are slowly being buried by the sparkly crystals that comprise the one-of-a-kind Black Hills snow.

For the adventurer seeking a down-hill thrill, Terry Peak and Mystic Miner Ski Resort at Deer Mountain provide two great venues in the Black Hills.

“Terry Peak has a very family friendly atmosphere and the fastest lifts around” says Tom Marsing, President and General Manager of Terry Peak Resort. “Most visitors are surprised to find two, high-speed quad chairlifts, and great snow at such an affordable price.”

The summit of Terry Peak stands at 7,076 ft tall, with the highest vertical drop between the Rockies and the Alps. This hidden little resort is the perfect place to enjoy challenging slopes, clear mountain air and down-hill runs through pine covered hills.

Mystic Miner Ski Resort at Deer Mountain is another great getaway. This ski resort boasts a terrain park, blizzard tube park, and sleigh rides. Whatever the skill level, Mystic Miner resort at Deer Mountain provides a variety of terrain. With its proximity to Deadwood, Mystic Miner Ski Resort is the perfect escape for a truly unique South Dakota winter skiing experience.

Great Bear Recreation Park provides the premier location for winter sports in eastern South Dakota. Located between Sioux Falls and Brandon, this ski area has 14 downhill trails, a terrain park, inner-tubing, and trails for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Being located near Sioux Falls, Great Bear provides many dining, lodging, and shopping options along with the winter recreation.

As with skis fixed on the feet, the skis fixed on snowmobiles will find plenty of terrain in both the western and eastern parts of South Dakota. With over 350 miles of trails, The Black Hills remain one of the most unique riding venues in the U.S. The pungent pine forest covered with fine, white snow, leaves riders in a true winter wonderland.

The trails in eastern South Dakota provide a winter escape on rolling prairies. Riders who venture out will experience fast, open terrain and may spot everything from jackrabbits to coyotes along the trail. There are also many points of entry to this trail system, making it easy to find accommodation within riding distance. The larger metropolitan areas of Watertown, Aberdeen, Brookings, Huron, Mitchell, Sioux Falls, Yankton, and Vermillion provide riders with dining, lodging, and entertainment during their stay.

South Dakota also provides miles of cross country skiing opportunity. Many of the state parks have trail systems beginning and ending near warming shelters. Each shelter has a wood burning stove and can accommodate up to 30 people. As with skiing and snowmobiling, cross country ski trails can be found statewide.

The South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks provide snowmobile and cross country skiing maps in print and online at

This winter, the snow in South Dakota will only enhance the opportunities for those looking for a winter getaway. From east to west, ski opportunities abound in the land of Great Faces and Great Places. For those looking to book the perfect winter getaway, there is no better place than South Dakota on skies.

For more information including vacation packages and booking information, visit

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Snowmobile Trails Open Today

Snow better in Northern Hills, ‘sketchy’ in Southern Hills
trails officials say

By Mark Watson
Black Hills Pioneer
BLACK HILLS — Snowmobiling season opened today in the Black Hills allowing winter enthusiasts access to the 350 miles of trails.“This is a lot better than it was last year at this time,” said Shannon Percey, the district park manager with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. “We didn’t have enough snow until Dec. 27 when we got that big storm.”

Trail groomers will begin their annual trail maintenance at 3 p.m. today. Six snow cats will operate on 12-hour shifts.

This year, the recent storms have allowed much of the Black Hills to have “adequate snow” for the trails, but the farther south you go, the less snow is on the ground.

The Northern Hills trails, around Big Hill and Trailshead, will have great snow,” he said. The central trails, by Black Fox have adequate snow but it is not abundant. On the eastern side, over by Recreation Springs and Lead-Deadwood have adequate snow, but during the last two days, the snow has really gone down.”

Percey said Monday’s and Tuesday’s warm temperatures melted the most recent snow.

“All the snow we received Saturday is gone,” he said. “We’re down to that 40 inches that fell (after Thanksgiving.) In the woods you will find enough snow, but on the south facing slopes there might not be any.”

South of Trail 8, Percey said, the snow is “really sketchy.”

Snowmobilers will also have to contend with logging trucks hauling the last of their loads for the season. Some of the roads which are part of the trail system were plowed allowing access to the tree stands. Trail 9 will not open till Saturday due to logging in the area.

“We’ve had a lot of reroutes due to the logging activity,” he said. “The Forest Service is getting in and trying to get the trees with (pine bark beetles) our so they don’t infect other trees. The trail map will look pretty much the same though. The trail may have been on a logging road, and now it will be beside it.

Percey is hoping that today’s snow will pile onto the trails.

“The three to six inches that we are expected to get will really help out,” he said.

He cautioned riders to be careful, especially with the early season snow.

The Black Hills trail system has been in existence for the past 30 years and is mostly in the Northern Hills. The northern most portion is at Big Hill, just outside Spearfish and the system extends south to near Hill City.

Percey said that this season is expected to have average temperatures with above average precipitation.

But it is not just on the designated trails that snowmobilers can ride. The forest is open unless posted closed, but Percy cautioned riders to be aware of public land.

There were a few areas closed which include a winter wildlife range west of Spearfish and three cross country skiing areas at Beavercreek, Eagle Cliff and Big Hill.

In South Dakota, all snowmobiles must be properly licensed to operate on public or private lands, except those private lands owned by the snowmobile’s operator. A resident snowmobile license costs $20 for two years and can be purchased at the county treasurer’s office. Non-resident snowmobiles validly licensed in another state can be legally operated in South Dakota. Unlicensed snowmobiles (both resident and non-resident) may purchase a special five-day permit that is available at many trailside vendors. The temporary permit costs $40.

According to state law, snowmobilers who operate in road rights-of-way and/or public snowmobile trails must show proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance).

The Black Hills trail system is open from Dec. 15 to March 31.

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Ski Season opens in the Black Hills!

Get the skis and snowboards ready! Terry Peak is already open and Mystic Miner Resort opens tomorrow! And to make it even better mother nature just dumped 7 inches of fresh powder on the slopes. Check out the live webcams and snow reports below.

Mystic Miner:

fresh pow video:

 Terry Peak:


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Gearing up for Winter Activities

The turkey bones have been picked clean and the Macy’s day parade is over. Rifle deer season has come to a close. NFL teams are nearing the do or die point for playoffs and the snow has finally started falling.

It’s that time of year in South Dakota where an important choice must be made; Are you going to sit inside all winter and stare at the tube or are you going to get your ice shack, snowmobile, skis, snowboards, ice axes, snowshoes, crampons, Vexilars, ice drills, camera’s, gloves, goggles, and ice skates ready? 

There is no shortage of ice and snow during winter nor is there a reason not to enjoy it.

South Dakota offers many unique possibilities during the winter, or what we northerners call “the other half of the year”.

Below is a list of winter activities all available in South Dakota. There are also helpful links to guide you in your winter endeavors.


You can snowmobile almost anywhere in South Dakota during the winter. However, the most enjoyable riding can be found on the maintained trail systems in the eastern part of South Dakota and also in the Black Hills. Here are some links:













Cross Country Skiing/Snowshoeing




Ice Fishing

The ice fishing possibilities in South Dakota are as endless as the Great Plains. There is spectacular fresh water lake fishing in the east and northeast and in the Missouri river running, from North Dakota to Nebraska. There are also many trout filled lakes in the Black Hills.





Ice climbing

Other winter activities


Media One Funski:

Complete Event listing:

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