After hundreds of miles of flat prairie land, the Black
Hills of South Dakota might look like a mirage to snowmobilers heading West.
The Black Hills are no mirage, they’re an oasis—an oasis of snowmobiling for
elevation and terrain loving but starved sledders from the flat lands of America.
The Black Hills are the first real mountains (and the only
mountain range in South Dakota) sledders from
the Midwest see when they head west to ride.
While mostly in western South Dakota, the Black
Hills do spill over into eastern Wyoming.
Don’t think that the Black Hills are popular just with
snowmobilers from Minnesota, North
Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. South
Dakotans also have tabbed the Black Hills
as their favorite place to snowmobile in the state.
Why? Impeccable trails, decent snow and a history-laden
past. The Black Hills have long ranked as one
of the best trail systems in the West when it comes to grooming, signage and
The vast majority of trail mileage is in South
Dakota but part of the system also includes parts of eastern Wyoming. In all, there
are 350 miles of groomed trails and numerous more ungroomed paths that can keep
you busy for several days.
The extensive trail system can be accessed from numerous
parking areas spread out over South Dakota and
Trails stretch from Lead, Deadwood and just south of Spearfish in the north to
near the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park in the south and from near
Galena in the east to close to Buckhorn in eastern Wyoming. All riding is on
the 1.2 million-acre Black Hills
National Forest. There
several places to bail off the trails into powder-filled meadows.
There are lots of things sledders will like about South Dakota’s Black Hills.
The maps are well designed and there are good accommodations. This is a
destination—summer and winter—so services are easy to find. This is also an
ideal place to begin your mountain riding experience without being too
intimidated. Elevations are moderate, from 3,200 feet to 7,000 feet.
And if you want to plan a few diversions for after the ride,
the Black Hills are steeped in history, from Mount
Rushmore to Deadwood to Lead.
South Dakota Tourism www.travelsd.com
Game, Fish and Parks 605-773-3391
Road Conditions 866-697-3511 (SD); 888-996-7623 (WY)
Snowmobile Association www.itctel.com/sdsa
Groomed Trails 1,613
Number of Registered Snowmobiles 11,691
Highest Point Harney Peak (7,242 ft)
Record Winter Snowfall Lead 324 in.
Coldest Recorded Temperature McIntosh minus-58 degrees F
Groomed Trails 300
miles (SD), 40 (WY)
Lead, SD; Newcastle, WY
Nearest Airport Rapid
City (35 miles)
Information South Dakota Tourism 800-SDAKOTA,
Lead Area Chamber of Commerce 605-584-1100, Newcastle Area Chamber of Commerce 800-835-0157