When there’s snow on the ground, there’s outdoor fun to be had in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The region best known as home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial boasts an average of 150 inches of snow annually — with white stuff on the ground as early as Thanksgiving and as late as early April.
For those who want to whip downhill on skis or snowboards, Terry Peak Ski Area beckons with a top elevation of 7,100 feet and the highest lift service between the Rockies and the Alps. Five lifts provide access to 29 trails ranging from beginner to advanced. There’s a freestyle terrain park, too.
The Black Hills Snowmobile Trail System, a 350-mile network of maintained, marked and groomed trails, gives snowmobilers easy access to the beauty of Black Hills National Forest, a ponderosa pine forest in western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming that is punctuated by canyons and summit lookouts. Warming shelters, gas stops and the availability of local guides enhance the ride.
The national forest has groomed and natural trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, as do many of South Dakota’s state parks. In the Black Hills region, those include Custer State Park
, famous for its bison herds and other wildlife, and the 109-mile gently sloping George S. Mickelson Trail. Spearfish Canyon Nature area, known for its dramatic waterfalls, allows snowshoeing. All three of the parks lend out snowshoes free for a day or a weekend.
Continue communing with nature by overnighting in a lodge or cabin at Custer State Park. Or, combine your sporting days with lively nights in the town of Deadwood, with its abundance of restaurants, casinos and nightlife.