Destination: South Dakota

South Dakota may not be able to claim the biggest mountains in the West, but to someone who has been driving over the pancake-flat Great Plains from the Midwest and then see the Black Hills begin to rise off the prairie floor, they’re plenty impressive.  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.  Having terrain that changes more than a few hundred feet is one of the reasons the Black Hills are so popular as a winter destination, especially among snowmobilers. Elevations are moderate, from 3,200 feet to 7,000 feet.  Other sled-attraction features include impeccable trails, decent snow and a history-laden past.  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 Wyoming. 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 are several places to bail off the trails into powder-filled meadows.  Those elevations are plenty big, though, to have plenty of fun.

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