Two hikers in winter gear stand among the trees in a snowy Spearfish Canyon

Winter In South Dakota


Enjoy the winter wonderland that is South Dakota!

Forests heavy with snowfall, vast prairies turned winter-white and sprawling lakes encrusted with thick ice are the hallmarks of winter in South Dakota. Here, snowmobiling, skiingice fishing, and snowshoeing are all on the itinerary. During the holiday season, you’ll also discover festive decorations and events, such as Winter Wonderland at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, Christmas at the Capitol in Pierre and the Winter Market at Main Street Square in Rapid City.

To make the most of your winter vacation, be sure to pack for the weather (which typically ranges from 0–30 degrees Fahrenheit). This means a wool base layer, fleece mid-layer, windproof outer layer, waterproof boots and, of course, a warm hat, scarf, gloves and socks. If you’re planning to play in the snow (think snowmobiling & skiing), bring snow pants and a waterproof jacket.

Discover South Dakota's Winter Wonderland
A woman stands on a frozen waterfall as she looks out over the snow, green trees, and rocks of Spearfish Canyon
Black Hills & Badlands Region

With an average snowfall surpassing 150 inches per year, this region is a winter lover’s paradise. Zoom along more than 350 miles of mapped and groomed snowmobile trails just south of Spearfish, or trek along powdery trails on snowshoes in Spearfish Canyon, Big Hill and Crow Peak recreational areas. Go cross-country skiing in the Black Hills National Forest on the Eagle Cliff Trails, or go downhill skiing and snowboarding at Terry Peak Ski Area near Lead and Deadwood. Don't miss the frozen Community Caves in Spearfish Canyon. Find even more winter activities in the Black Hills.

winter in South Dakota
Glacial Lakes & Prairies Region

With pristine glacial-carved lakes scattered across its vast grasslands, this region is ideal for winter water activity. Full-service ice fishing guides will set you up with portable shacks, heaters and all the gear you’ll need, or bring your own set-up to Waubay Lake, Lake Kampeska or Swan Lake to reel in walleyes, smallmouth bass, yellow perch and northern pike. On land, explore snowy landscapes along hundreds of miles of snowmobiling trails, such as the Dakota Midland Trail near Aberdeen or the Coteau Des Prairie Trail near Watertown.

Missouri River at Fort Pierre
Missouri River Region

With the Missouri River running through this region, ice fishing opportunities are endless. Drop in a line at Lake Oahe, known for its trophy-size walleyes and northern pike. For adventures on land, venture to LaFramboise Island Nature Area — perched in the Missouri River just between Pierre and Fort Pierre — and take in some scenery and fresh air while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Water falls into more water surrounded by rock formations and an aged tower in Falls Park
Southeast Region

Here, regular snowfall means outdoor adventures all season. At Great Bear Recreation Park, downhill ski on 14 ski trails, try some tricks in the terrain park or hop on an innertube to glide down tubing hills. For snowshoeing, hit the trails at Newton Hills State Park. If fast-paced adventures are more your speed, kick up some powder on a snowmobile along the 78-mile Siouxland Trail just north of Sioux Falls. Don't forget to explore Falls Park (pictured) in Sioux Falls. Find even more winter activities in eastern South Dakota.

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Ice Climber Spearfish Canyon South Dakota
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A Season to Celebrate

There's a common misconception about winter being something to endure. The leaves may be gone and the air may have a chill, but the season is cause for celebration in South Dakota. When you're ready to travel, great winter getaways are waiting!

Featured Events

South Dakota snowmobile trail season is a must for winter sports fans. Explore South Dakota’s incredible landscapes over 1,500-plus miles of snowmobile trails across the state. The season runs December 15 - March 31, based on trail conditions. Plan your visit to Rapid City around the annual Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo. The region’s largest trade show features livestock, cattle and horse sales, seminars, competitions and an indoor PCRA rodeo. Get in the holiday spirit at Winter Wonderland in Sioux Falls. Filled with fabulous light displays and holiday tunes, Falls Park transforms into a winter escape with 270 decorated trees, 40 wreaths, 275 decorated light poles and a half-mile of rope lights. Looking for more holiday cheer? Visit Pierre for Christmas at the Capitol, when the state capitol building comes to life with elaborate holiday decorations and festive live music.

Find Winter Events

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Illustrated image of three bison grazing in Custer State Park. The Needles rock formation is visible in the background.
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