When planning a trip to South Dakota, it's important to consider what time of year you might be visiting. While travelers come to visit throughout the year, but there's something special to discover in each season.
For winter travel in South Dakota, there is a full slate of things to enjoy. The glacial lakes in the northeastern corner of the state in and around Brookings and Aberdeen are often dotted with ice houses and ice fishermen when the weather is at its coldest. With several state parks and recreation areas, as well as resorts and campgrounds, open year-round, travelers have plenty of options for a South Dakota vacation.
Winter is an excellent time for skiing and snowmobiling. More than 300 miles of groomed trails wind through the Black Hills in the western part of the state, and eastern South Dakota travel also has plenty of options for wintertime recreation. Several ski resorts, including Terry Peak in Lead and Great Bear Recreation Park just outside Sioux Falls, brim with energy in the winter. For those who just want to stay warm, there are still plenty of options. Warm and welcoming hotels and a full spectrum of attractions such as museums, indoor water parks, and science centers are sure to keep visitors entertained and fingers and toes warm.
Travelers who plan a South Dakota vacation in the spring will enjoy blankets of wildflowers and wide-open possibilities for adventure. The Glacial Lakes and Prairies Birding Trail, located along the Central and Mississippi migratory flyways, is an amazing place in the spring when millions of birds stop in the Keystone State. Those enjoying South Dakota travel at this time of year will find an array of seasonal attractions that are just opening after the winter, including zoos, campgrounds, living history villages, and outdoor recreation sites.
When many people think about travel in South Dakota, they imagine a trip to Mount Rushmore. While it's open all year, summer is definitely the high season to visit this attraction. With a full schedule of ranger-led tours, museums to visit, and evening illuminations, this presidential monument is bustling in the summer months. The evening illumination programs combine an interesting talk by the park rangers with the lighiting of the massive monument. The presidents' faces are slowly lit up to full illumination as night falls. A summer South Dakota vacation is a perfect time for swimming, boating, water skiing, and all of the other entertaining activities possible when the weather is warm. An array of lakes, recreation areas, rivers, and reservoirs are primed for fun between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The theme parks and water parks are also busy in the summer. Flintstones Bedrock City in the Black Hills community of Custer has been a summertime staple for more than a generation. Many interesting attractions and rides bring the stone-age town to life.
When summer is fading away and the days are getting shorter, some of nature’s most stunning scenery is about to reappear. Visitors planning South Dakota travel that coincides with the changing of the leaves should be sure to spend some time outdoors. With an extensive state park system, a nearly endless assortment of hiking trails, scenic drives, and tree-filled cities, it's simple to enjoy the rich fall colors. Autumn is also an excellent time for golfing—when the days are warm and the nights are cool, golfers will not find the weather distracting.
Leaf peepers will want to make a trip along the National Scenic Byway that twists and turns through Spearfish Canyon. It offers some of the most amazing views of trees, granite cliffs, and the fresh waters of Spearfish Creek. When autumn travel in South Dakota includes time at the West Whitlock Recreation Area near Gettysburg, seasonal travelers also can admire the views as they savor the golden prairies, watch for wildlife, try fishing, or go hiking.