8 Reasons Why the Black Hills is the Perfect Winter Getaway

While many travelers visit the Black Hills during summer, many miss seeing how the area transforms itself into a true, winter wonderland every year. Winter in the Black Hills is truly an unforgettable experience that has made weekend getaways more popular for couples, families, and solo travelers.

If Rapid City, SD is near the top of your family vacation list, the winter season is the perfect time to visit. The colder season brings us crackling fires, endless hot chocolate, cozy sweaters, a variety of dining, and plenty of winter sports. Between the natural stunning scenery, spectacular Christmas decorations, and abundance of winter-filled activities, Rapid City is the perfect destination for a winter vacation. Get ready to slide into fun and see why Rapid City is a gnarly place worth exploring.


1. Water You Waiting For?

After a full day in the snow, consider staying at WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort where it’s 84 degrees all year round. Our waterpark is part of a large resort complex featuring five hotels and several onsite dining options, as well as a large arcade. Each hotel is brimming with extra special family-friendly amenities to make your stay comfortable and convenient.


2. Shop Downtown Rapid City

There’s plenty of fun for the whole family in downtown Rapid City. With a variety of specialty and local shops, there is something for everyone. Our shops feature just about everything you can imagine including antiques, Black Hills Gold jewelry, trendy clothing, toys, souvenirs, art galleries, and so much more.


3. Lace Up Your Ice Skates

Make it a full day after shopping downtown by lacing up your ice skates at Main Street Square. The family-friendly ice-skating rink is located in the heart of downtown Rapid City, and is open to the public every day during the winter season (except for Holidays). Feel free to bring your own skates or rent a pair for a small fee. After your time on the ice, be sure to warm up with hot chocolate at our on-site Starbucks.


4. Visit Our Monumental Attraction

If you thought Mount Rushmore National Memorial was only open during the summer months, think again. The Memorial is open year-round with almost all facilities available and far less crowds. As the snow falls on the ponderosa pines, it creates a stunning, picturesque view of the monument. As for the weather and road conditions, Highway 16 from Keystone to Mount Rushmore is well maintained during the winter months.


5. Witness the Wildlife

Custer State Park is open year-round and offers one of the best winter wildlife experiences in the region. With most of the park traffic coming during the summer, the winter season provides the best viewing of the abundant wildlife. The park is famous for its 1,300 head of buffalo, antelope, prairie dogs, welcoming burros (who expect food from your car window!), and so much more. Most activities are still available along with special seasonal offerings including snowmobiling, snowshoe hiking, and ice fishing.


6. Hit the Slopes

Winter sports enthusiasts of all ages can hit the slopes at Terry Peak Ski Area located only a few miles from Deadwood, SD. The park offers 29 snow-packed, marked trails for downhill skiing and snowboarding. With elevations over 7,000 feet, Terry Peak sees more snow than anywhere else in the region during the winter months.


7. Dazzling Lights at Storybook Island

There is nothing more magical than seeing all your favorite storybook characters dressed up in beautiful Christmas lights. After a full day in the snow, head over to Storybook Island in Rapid City as the entire park turns into a true winter wonderland with over 16 miles of Christmas lights. Be sure to keep warm by grabbing a cup of hot chocolate while strolling through the park.


8. All Aboard

Climb aboard a vintage steam train for an unforgettable winter experience in the Black Hills. Every year, the 1880 train located between Keystone and Hill City hosts a special ‘Holiday Express’ train ride for all ages. Experience the Christmas magic with hot chocolate, delicious cookies, and a special visit from Santa. For the adults, be sure to check out the Holiday Express “Spiked” trip available on select days only.


Ready for a totally tubular winter vacation?