The great outdoors are always calling in eastern South Dakota, and winter is no exception. Regular snowfalls and a variety of terrain make for great skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. With Sioux Falls as a home base, choose from boutique downtown hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, and nearby cabins to keep warm at night while having fun in the winter wonderland that is eastern South Dakota.

Great Bear Recreation Park

Just a 15-minute drive east of Sioux Falls, you’ll find Great Bear Recreation Park with skiing that’s, well, great. Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, the park has 14 different downhill ski trails plus trails for cross country skiing, a terrain park with rails, boxes and jumps, and eight tubing hills, so there’s never a long wait back to the top. Be sure to warm your cold body—especially your belly—at the comfortable park lodge where hot food and beverages next to the roaring fire make for a relaxing winter experience. 

Good Earth State Park

Take Interstate 229 to 10th Street and then a right on S. Powder House Rd. to Good Earth State Park. Only 25 minutes from Great Bear Recreation Park and just southeast of Sioux Falls, this National Historic Landmark’s natural draw is as significant as its heritage as a settlement for Native Americans centuries ago. Beautiful as it is in spring, summer and fall, Good Earth State Park should not be forgotten in the winter. Green forests and fields transform into sparkling white expanses that stretch toward the horizon, while even the shortest hike along the Big Sioux River reveals the normally fast-flowing waters are frozen in time. Get moving again and head back to Sioux Falls for a warm bowl of pho—a delicious Vietnamese soup made with savory broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat— at Pho Quynh Restaurant, Lam's Vietnamese Restaurant or Phnom Penh Restaurant.

Newton Hills State Park

From Sioux Falls, a 45-minute drive south starting on Highway 115 leads you to Newton Hills State Park, a breathtaking area of the Coteau des Prairie located on a narrow strip of rolling hills and forest. Although hiking is fun, the best way to get around the outdoors during winter is snowshoeing. Strap on this simple footwear and hit the trails. Trek miles of snow-covered trails for an up-close tour of what South Dakota looked like ages ago when glaciers carved the landscape along the Iowa/South Dakota border. After a long day of exploring, stop in the nearby cities of Canton or Worthing to find a spot to eat.

Snowmobile trails

The rolling plains and snow pack of eastern South Dakota make snowmobiling an excellent winter activity here. You’ll find an extensive trail system that offers a variety of terrain and covers more than 1,200 miles of exciting rides for your horse-powered “sleigh.”