Unexpected winter travel beyond crowded slopes: Black Hills, SD
Aspen, Park City, Stowe — when it comes to winter travel, we see the same towns recommended year after year. Those looking to escape the crowds and experience the snow beyond typically sought-after activities like downhill skiing can look no further than the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Set among the National Forest’s snowy birch trees, unspoiled scenery and mountainous terrain, adventurers can enjoy:
- Snowmobiling: Climb aboard a horse-powered sleigh and go dashing over 350 miles of marked, mapped and groomed snowmobile trails. At 6,000 feet, trails develop a five-foot snow pack each winter, carrying you through pine forests and deep into canyons that lead to summit lookouts or untracked meadows and play areas with top-notch powder-floating.
- Fat biking: The Black Hills’ 84 trails, along with the annual 28 Below race, turns the region into a mecca for fat biking, a sport that allows for year-round off-road cycling on unstable terrain via oversized tires. The race, taking place on March 16 this year, is a 50k lollipop loop with 2,800 feet of climbing.
- Snowshoeing: The lush Custer State Park offers complimentary snowshoe rentals for visitors. The 71,000 acre park hosts group snowshoe hikes led by park naturalists.
- Cross-Country Skiing: Ski back in time along the 109-mile George S. Mickelson Trail, built along a former railroad corridor as South Dakota’s first “rails to trails” outdoor project.
Where to stay: Known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills” for its close proximity to the parks, Rapid City is an ideal home-base for travelers. Book a stay at Hotel Alex Johnson, a landmark of the Downtown skyline and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.