Winter activities in South Dakota’s state parks
In the aftermath of the Christmas storm that dumped nearly two feet of snow on much of South Dakota, there’s plenty of opportunities available for winter recreation. Here’s a list of winter activities in state parks from the Department of Game, Fish and Parks:
- Cross-country skiing
Found in several parks, many trails take you off the beaten path, allowing you to discover the winter world up close.
In addition to the many guided hikes offered, snowshoes are available for free checkout at Big Sioux, Custer, Fort Sisseton and the Black Hills Trails Office for use on the Mickelson Trail.
Snowmobilers can take advantage of trail riding opportunities across the state. Trails in both the Black Hills and the eastern part of the state are currently open. New this year, follow the snowmobile trails on Twitter!
Black Hills | East
- Traditional favorites
Let’s not forget the time-honored activities of ice skating, snowball fights, looking for animal tracks, sledding, building snow forts, hunting, ice fishing, or taking a leisurely walk in the brisk winter air.
It might seem a little crazy, but more people than you think go winter camping. Campsites are now first-come, first-served. Electricity is kept on year-round, but water systems and modern bathrooms facilities are closed during the winter.
For a cozier option, try a cabin. The one-room, log-style cabins are found across the state and feature heat, air-conditioning, electricity, a set of bunk beds, double bed, table and benches. A firegrate and picnic table located outside. Bring your own linens/sleeping bags. Reserve year-round online or call 1-800-710-CAMP (2267).
- Group lodges
For gathering a group, check out one of the State Parks lodges. Found at Mina Lake, Shadehill, Newton Hills, Lake Thompson, Oahe Downstream (no overnight accommodations). Reservations for all of 2010 are now available online or call 1-800-710-CAMP (2267).
The department reminds visitors that park entrance licenses are required year-round in all designated fees areas. The 2010 park entrance license (featuring a winter scene) is now available, valid until May 2011. Your 2009 licenses are still valid, too.