Snowmobiling season begins in South Dakota

Snowmobilers in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of the S.D. Department of Game, Fish and Parks)One of the great winter activities in South Dakota is snowmobiling, and the snowmobiling is especially great in the Black Hills. I’ve been snowmobiling in the Hills twice on rented machines, and I was amazed at both the amount of trails and the scenic beauty of the Hills in winter. If you’ve only seen the Black Hills from a car or on foot during the summer, you’ll see it in a whole new way from atop a snowmobile in winter.

Snowmobile trails in the Black Hills will open Dec. 15 and are scheduled to stay open through March 31, but snow conditions apparently are not ideal yet. A news release this week from the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks says that more snow is needed to cover some bare spots. Ryan Raynor, a trail program specialist in the GF&P Division of Parks and Recreation, said snowmobilers "should be cautious when they hit the trails.”

Trails in eastern South Dakota have been open since Dec. 1, but those trails have yet to be groomed.

“Most of eastern South Dakota is still waiting for enough snow to get the trails going,” Raynor said in the news release.

He also reminded riders that the Aberdeen trails will not open this season due to flood conditions.

Following are some snowmobiling resources highlighted this week by the GF&P and the Office of Tourism.

  • Twitter: Snowmobilers can check trail conditions daily via Twitter. Follow the eastern trail conditions at and the Black Hills conditions at Raynor says Twitter will be useful to many snowmobilers because it provides updates on cell phones using text messaging.
  • Web reports: Trail condition reports are also available at the GF&P’s Web site or by calling 1-800-445-3474.
  • Maps: Available on the Web or through most GF&P offices by calling 605-773-3391. The maps outline the Black Hills trails (350 miles) and 13 trails in eastern South Dakota (1,260 miles). The maps also include locations for food and fuel, as well as additional information about snowmobiling in South Dakota.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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