Step Outside - South Dakota WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 Step Outside - South Dakota 144 144 Tue, 22 Jan 2019 12:57:13 -0600 7 Best Ski Destinations for Families in South Dakota When winter rolls around, South Dakotans come out to embrace the season. While snowboarding, ice skating, and snowshoeing all have their merits, skiing is a quintessential winter activity that is fun for the whole family. Head to one of the seven best ski destinations for families in South Dakota for exhilarating winter fun. See you on the slopes!

With elevations from 5,900 to 7,000 feet, snowy Terry Peak is a winter sports paradise! With the high elevations, it means that Terry Peak can get over three times as much snow as anywhere else in the area. The park offers a wide variety of trials for all skill levels, as well as equipment rentals onsite. Their website offers a trail guide with markings for beginner, intermediate, or advanced trails. Beginners should check out Stewart Slope, Little Phil, Snowstorm, Gold Run, or Millsite. There are also five lifts like Gold Express, Kussy Express, Snow Carpet, Stewart Lift, or Surprise Lift.

With over 220 acres and just minutes from downtown Sioux Falls, Great Bear Ski Valley is the ultimate winter sports destination for families. The park features 14 downhill trails, a snowboarding terrain park, family tubing park, as well as cross country and snowshoeing trails. For non-serious skiers, there is also affordable equipment rental on site. Beginners can take some of Great Bear Ski Valley’s enjoyable lessons to learn the ins and outs of skiing. No matter your skill level, Sioux Falls’ Great Bear Ski Valley is fun for the entire family!

Shreddin up that fresh pow ๐Ÿ‚โ›ท๐Ÿ˜…

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Near the South Dakota-Wyoming border, the Beaver Creek Ski System consists of six trails for a total distance of almost 13 miles, and include the Porcupine Trail, Dry Beaver Trail, Highland Trail, Mallo Trail, Sunshine Trail, and Highnoon Trail. In the winter, all of these trails are open to cross-country skiers. Be cautious when skiing on the Mallo Trail, as it is a groomed snowmobile trail.

Twenty miles west of Hill City, Deerfield Reservoir Complex is a summer hot spot with swimming, fishing, and boating, but it is even more fun during the winter months, as the trails open for cross-country skiing! There are four available trails for both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing such as Gold Run Trailhead, North Shore Trailhead, Dougherty Trailhead, and Kinney Canyon Trailhead. Entrance fees to Deerfield Reservoir Complex are $5 per vehicle per day.

Spencer Park is Sioux Falls is a great destination for any season. In the summer, there is soccer, sand volleyball, a dog park, nine-hole disc golf, and bike trails. But when things cool down, Spencer Park turns into a winter wonderland! Spencer Park has one of only three Nordic ski trails in Sioux Falls city limits. 

Sertoma Park is another one of the few Nordic ski trails in Sioux Falls city limits. The park’s trails offer something for every skill level, scenic wooded views, and unbeatable exercise opportunities. Sertoma Park also has biking trails in warmer weather, the Outdoor Campus, and the Butterfly House and Marine Cove.

Skiing is the best winter activity to enjoy at Lake Herman State Park. There are three main ski trails in the park, all with different skill levels. A daily entry license is $4 per person or $6 per vehicle. An annual pass is $30 for the first vehicle and $15 for a second vehicle.

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10 Best Ice Skating Rinks in South Dakota What’s more whimsical than ice skating in the winter? Whether you’re showing off your moves in Main Street Square or you’re practicing at the smaller, local rinks, there is a lot of opportunity to lace up the skates and hit the ice in South Dakota. Here are the 10 best ice skating rinks in the state. 

Get in the winter spirit by twirling and spinning on downtown Rapid City’s outdoor public skating rink in Main Street Square. There’s even a giant Christmas tree adjacent to the rink during the holidays! The rink is a community gathering place in the chilly winter months, and in the summer, the square is turned back into a small water park area with tables and plenty of grassy space for lounging around. The Main Street Square ice rink is open for its seventh season, and the Rapid City community loves it! Head down to Main Street Square for an unforgettable winter experience!

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Near the Brown County Fairgrounds, the Odde Ice Arena is open for recreational ice skating as well as youth hockey and tournaments. This indoor skating rink has their hours of operation on the City of Aberdeen website. Cost for daily admission is $2 for adults, $1 for youth 17 and under, and $4 for a family. A season pass is $25 for adults, $15 for youth 17 and under, and $45 for a family.

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Brooking’s Larson Ice Center is a community hot spot during the winter months, as it hosts open ice hockey, open ice skate, and private ice rentals. Open skating is held on Wednesdays from 7:30-9 p.m., Thursdays from 8-9:30 p.m., and Sundays from 4-6 p.m. Open skating is usually only held in the winter months from late September or early October through late February. Check their website or social media for a detailed schedule of open skate and open hockey times.

Sk8 d8๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜‹

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Rapid City’s Roosevelt Park Ice Arena is the perfect ice skating haven. There are plenty of public skating opportunities as well as adult drop-in hockey, youth drop-in hockey, and a hockey mentor program. For beginners or anyone looking to sharpen their skills, take on of Roosevelt Park’s Learn-To-Skate classes. If you’re dedicated enough, try joining the arena’s figure skating club, the Black Hills Figure Skating Club. Admission to the ice rink is $6 per person or $5 for seniors (age 62 or older). Skate rentals are $3 for all ages. 

Skating in a winter wonderlandโ›ธ

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Established in 2014 and located in the Sanford Sports Complex, the SCHEELS IcePlex in Sioux Falls is a wonderland for winter sports. Open skate sessions and open hockey are held regularly. Admission to an open skate session is $6 per person or $4 for ages 12 and under or seniors. Ice skate rentals are $3 and skate sharpening is $6. Head to their website for a complete calendar of open skate, open hockey, and event dates.

The Yankton Ice Rink has hockey, figure skating, performances, and Learn-To-Skate classes for beginners. No matter your skill level or how serious you are about ice skating, the Yankton Ice Rink has a figure skating class for you. Practice ice times are regularly held for beginner skaters. 


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As one of a couple outdoor rinks in Sioux Falls managed by the City of Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation Department, the McKennan Park Ice Skating Rink opens in mid-December and is subjected to changes based on weather. The rink has a warming house, concessions, and skate rentals for those who didn’t bring their own from home. Skate rentals are $1 for youth age two to 15, $2 for seniors age 55 or older, or $3 for adults age 16 to 54 years. 

The PAYSA (Pierre Area Youth Skating Association) Ice Rink is the perfect spot for families with younger children to learn how to skate. If you want to become an expert figure skater, try joining the rink’s figure skating club, the Central South Dakota Skating Club. Check their website for details about registering for skating classes.

In the summer, Memorial Park is a community gathering place with picnic areas, an accessible playground for kids, and a large green space. But in the chilly seasons, it turns into a winter wonderland with a hard surface hockey rink, ice skating rink, and warming house. Ice skate rentals are available onsite, and the rink has a concession stand.

Sherman Park in Sioux Falls also has a hard surface hockey rink, ice skating rink, warming house, concession stand, and ice skate rentals, making it the perfect spot for an ice skating outing for the family! Other seasonal amenities at the park include picnic shelters, playgrounds, league softball fields, formal garden, wedding location, bike trail access point, and soccer field.

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Best Winter Weekend Getaway in Custer State Park Long after the end of summer tourist season, there is still fun to be had in South Dakota’s winter wonderland. In the western area of South Dakota in the Black Hills region, Custer State Park is one of the state’s most popular parks, famous for their rock climbing and hiking opportunities, striking geological formations, sprawling woodland forests, and herds of bison and other wildlife. Head to Custer State Park and the surrounding area for a winter getaway that you’ll never forget. 

There is no way to feel closer to nature than by roughing it out and camping in the wilderness during the winter. Unlike the summer months, you’ll have nearly the whole State Game Lodge Campground to yourself as visitors drastically decrease in the winter. The facilities available are more limited, but that only makes the camping experience more authentic! 

The Little Devils Tower trail stretches slightly over one mile in length and can be found one mile west of Sylvan Lake on Highway 87 or Needles Highway. This hike is perfect for the winter, as it is relatively short but still provides marvelous views of Black Elk Peak, Cathedral Spires, and the expansive Black Hills forests. The trail does require some climbing over granite boulders and rocky paths, so walk with care during icy and snowy weather conditions.

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If you’ve never snowshoed before, this winter at Custer State Park is the perfect opportunity to learn this new skill! The park offers organized snowshoe hikes in January, February, and March in which hikers are provided with all the equipment then guided through a two-mile hike along Grace Coolidge Creek. These hikes are free, however payment for park entrance is still required. If organized group hiking isn’t your cup of tea, grab a pair of snowshoes and go blaze your own path.

Fishing is a year-round affair in Custer State Park! The bodies of water in the park are famous for their abundance of northern pike, walleyes, bluegills, crappies, and trout. The ice fishing season usually begins around mid-December once the ice grows to a safe thickness. The best ice fishing spots in the area are Center, Legion, Stockade, and Bismarck Lakes. Fishing licenses are required for all public ice fishing areas. 

Skiers in Custer State Park can go off the beaten path and explore the wilderness of the park that is rarely explored in the winter months. These trails are almost never crowded, and the heavy snowfall makes for perfect skiing conditions. 

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Before a long and chilly day of exploring snow-covered Custer State Park, head into the nearby quaint town of Custer for warm and filling food to fuel up! Baker’s Bakery and Cafe in the heart of downtown is open for breakfast and lunch and offers a little something for everyone. They are known for their homemade bread and buns, which are famous around town. The menu includes favorites like omelets, pancakes, breakfast burritos, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, and kid’s items.

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Visit the highest rated performance in Custer at the Buffalo Ridge Jamboree! This original country show is full of musical talent and comedy. The nationally recognized cast features four generations of the Potter family. They offer four unique shows nightly so there is plenty of time to catch one of these award-winning, toe-tapping and knee-slapping performances!

Step back in time to when the Black Hills was settled by rough and tumble gold miners and prospectors at the Four Mile Old West Town, located only four miles west of Custer between the town and Jewel Cave. The site includes 50 different open-door buildings that give visitors a glimpse into what life was like over a century ago. Admission is only $6 per person, making it one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ attractions around.

The Custer Wolf is a warm and welcoming pub that provides a much-needed relief from the chilly South Dakota winter. Food available includes starters like onion rings or nachos, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, fish and chips, pork chops, or salads. The varied drink menu has something to fit all tastes and budgets. This establishment is closed on Thursdays and Sundays. 

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Denial South Dakota is a quaint bistro known for their delicious fare and authentic wild west atmosphere. Situated in an unforgettable blue and old-fashioned building, the menu includes favorites like paninis, soup, chicken, sandwiches, chili, filling bread, as well as beer and wine for the adults.

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9 Best Bait and Tackle Shops in South Dakota Unwinding after a long week can best be done through fishing. Head out to the pristine lakes of South Dakota to catch all the crappie, walleye, bass, and trout your heart desires. But first, make sure you’re properly equipped for your trip. Here are the best bait and tackle shops in the state.  

Located in the heart of downtown Rapid City, Dakota Angler & Outfitter has the largest selection of fishing gear in the Black Hills. In addition to bait and tackle, they offer fly fishing classes, casting classes, and guided trips, as well as rods from Sage, ECHO, Scott Fly Rods, and so much more. Only a few short miles from their doorway is Rapid Creek, the perfect place to test your new equipment!

Finn the fly shop dog. #dakotaflyangler

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With over 30 years of experience, Hagen’s in Mitchell is a tried and true fishing shop with a large customer base. Hagen’s offers a large variety of products such as Colorado spinner blades, casting spoons, Mustad hooks, clevises and swivels, and, of course, tackle. Their inventory is priced very reasonably—it will be harder to find better deals in Mitchell! 

Wheel In Bait Shop serves the entire northern Black Hills region with fishing and other sportsmen supplies. In addition to bait and accessories, they offer a wide variety of tackle. After stocking up on cutting edge equipment, head over to Orman Dam right outside of Belle Fourche for unbeatable northern Black Hills fishing.

Sportsmans Cove has fishing equipment as well as rentals, guide services, and hunting equipment. Services include bait and tackle, guns, ammunition, hunting licenses, rental boats, and a fishing guide service with a local expert to show you the ins and outs. Webster is a great fishing destination, as the glacial lakes around the area have some of the best fishing in the region. In fact, there are over 15 lakes within a 30-minute drive of this shop!

This mom and pop fishing shop has served the Sioux Falls community since 2001. They have a huge range of selection with tackle for every species of fish, open water and ice fishing reels, crankbaits, and name brands like Northland, and Berkley, among many others. Each winter, they host the Dakota Angler Ice Institute, a two-day fishing event where people can attend seminars with the nation’s best ice fishermen.

Nearby the beautiful Lewis & Clark Lake, Captain Norm’s Bait Shop is a great one stop shop for all your fishing gear. They offer rods, reels, lures, jigs, spinners, lines, weights, and a variety of bait including minnows, chubs, crawlers, leeches, crawdads, and wax worms. The shop also sells South Dakota and Nebraska resident and nonresident fishing and hunting licenses.

This family owned and operated business began in the 1940s and is open every day during the year, so it is the perfect spot to pick up equipment on a lazy Sunday or a busy holiday season. M & W stocks a variety of items like live bait, frozen chubs, smelts, frogs, and a large amount of equipment. They also make their own tackle!

For over 40 years, SoDak has been a hotspot for hunters, fishermen, and other outdoorsmen and women. They have a large selection of items including shotguns, handguns, rifles, archery, and equipment for other recreational activities like fishing. The staff members are passionate and knowledgeable about fishing and hunting, and can provide expert advice for any level of fisherman.

Spearfish Canyon is known around the nation for its fly fishing, and Spearfish Creek Fly Shop can get you prepared for your fly fishing trip! This shop has a large selection of equipment like flies, clothing, rods, bait, and more, as well as fishing classes and guided excursions.

Hooks are in! It's still early enough to tie enough flies for your season!

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9 Best Archery Outfitters in South Dakota True sportsmen know the calm of sitting in a blind all morning with just a bow and a cup of hot coffee. Whether bow hunting is more your speed or if you’re simply into mastering the art of target shooting, South Dakota has the stores to outfit you with the very best. Find all the top-notch brands and expert knowledge at the best archery outfitters in the state. 

Black Hills Archery was established in 1988 and has tirelessly worked for the hunting and archery community ever since. They stock accessories and bows from a variety of brands including Mathews, Hoyt, PSE, Diamond, and more. 

Right near the famous Custer State Park, Top Pin Archery stocks supplies from over 50 name brand archery supplies. This family owned and operated business has served the area for over 10 years and supports local archery groups. 

Archer’s Addiction in Sioux Falls stocks a wide variety of equipment like new and used bows, bow repairs, broadheads, arrows, and lots of other accessories. Try out your new gear at one of their two archer rangers, a 50-yard indoor 3D range or 20-yard spot range.

This family owned and operated archery store was opened in 1995 by a married couple, and are dedicated to promoting archery as an enjoyable and family friendly sport. Archery gear available includes bows, arrows, arm guards, broadheads, releases, rests, sights, shooting gloves, and tabs. Archery lessons are also available. Services include arrow, bow, crossbow, and string services. No matter what you need, you can find it in Mitchell’s K&B Archery store.

This pro archery shop has everything like archery equipment and accessories, archery ranges, bow and arrow service and repairs, custom arrows like dipped/crest or wraps, birthday and business parties, and leagues for youth, ladies, and men. Ranges include an outdoor practice range from 10 to 80 yards, two-level shooting tower, and party room with 10 lanes.  

Yankton’s Xpedition Archery is dedicated to providing customers with only the highest quality bows and archery equipment. Every bow is custom made with care and patience so that high performance is guaranteed. In addition to unbeatable bows, they have a selection of other archery accessories.  

Yankton’s Dakota Archery & Outdoor Sports has everything a hunter, fisher, or archery needs like game calls, bows, tree stands, guns, and more. They’ve been serving the community for over 20 years and remain a fixture in the community. This shop has the largest selection of rifles, shotguns, handguns, and bows in the area. In addition, the store also has a 20-yard indoor archery range to test your new gear.

Larry’s Archery Barn in Elk Point has been serving the local archery community since 1981, with over 50 years of combined experience in the industry. From sights to slings to broadheads to stabilizers, they stock all the gear needed to shoot and hunt like a pro. Test your new products at their indoor shooting range, and let the staff teach you everything you need to know.

SCHEELS is not just an archery store (although they do stock plenty of archery equipment) but rather a store for every sport under the sun—from wrestling to body building to camping to canoeing and beyond. Their archery section includes a large variety of bows for both kids and adults, beginners and experts. They also have accessories and other related equipment, like a device that is used to strengthen the muscles used in archery. No matter what you need, SCHEELS in Sioux Falls and Rapid City are sure to have it.

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Best Places to Fish in the Midwest This Fall Walleyes and a variety of salmon are on the autumn menu in the Midwest as anglers have a last chance to fish open water before the winter freeze starts to set in. Fishing for either species can be excellent; how the weather and the water temperatures line up are more critical where salmon are concerned, but the fall run extends well into November.

Walleyes aren’t so picky, and all the traditional waters such as the Mississippi River, Big Saint Germain Lake in Wisconsin, Otter Tail Lake in Minnesota and Great Lakes feeder streams give up tons of  ’eyes in the fall.

One Last Salmon Fling

The big attraction nowadays is king (chinook) salmon that make their fall spawning runs up rivers and creeks. Whether fishing from a small boat or a Great Lakes charter boat, latching on to a 20- or 30-pound king can quickly warm up an otherwise chilly fall day.

Hot Spots To Fish: Michigan’s Grand River, which empties into the eastern side of Michigan, is a prime destination for salmon. Getting Bit Guide Service (616-570-2946, in Grand Rapids is a good starting point. In fact, any port of call along Lake Michigan on either the east or west sides is likely to have plenty of knowledgeable salmon guides or charters. Fishing from jetties or piers – such as the famed McKinley Pier in Milwaukee – is also productive during the fall salmon runs.

In northwestern New York, the Salmon River lives up to its name through mid-October, but the run might linger into November in the Lake Ontario feeder, depending on the weather. Coho and steelheads also are in the mix too.

The Yankee Angler (315-963-2065, in Pulaski, N.Y. keeps tabs on the fishing. In the big waters of Lake Ontario’s southern shore at Rochester, N.Y., give Reel Em In Sportfishing Charters (585-317-5325, a call.

Farther to the northwest, the waters and feeders of Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie are teeming with big salmon. One of the benefits here is that you can always slip in to the St. Mary’s River System to get away from those rough autumn nor’ westers. Live To Fish Charters (906-440-7797) can help make it happen.

New York rivers and inshore waters are teeming with big salmon in the fall.

Tackle You’ll Need: Salmon tackle and striped bass tackle (see above) are practically interchangeable. Fish might range from a few pounds to well over 20 pounds, and rods and reels should be in the medium- to-heavy range. A light- to-medium spinning outfit capable of holding a couple of hundred yards of 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament or 30- to 50-pound-test braid should do for most applications, especially when casting lures. Try the Okuma Epixor XT-20 with a matching rod.

Quick Tip: Just to hedge your bets, tie a foot-long section of 2x mono to your streamer hook and add a beadhead Prince nymph or similar pattern to the other end. When salmon are finicky, they might flash at a streamer, but not take it. Sometimes, a smaller mouthful such as a nymph trailer will seal the deal.


Best Lures/Bait: For the most part, spawn-run salmon hit spoons, crankbaits or roe bags out of reaction rather than hunger. Shiny lures, such as the Luhr-Jensen Twinky Rig behind a flasher, the Acme Kastmaster Spoon and a variety of soft-plastic swimbaits or hard crankbaits, will elicit strikes. Fly fishermen favor Dahlberg Divers, Wooly Buggers, Hex Nymphs and Glo Bugs.

Find the best fishing spots near you:

Find the best bait and tackle shops near you:

Walleyes Are Hungry and Willing

In similar fashion to bass, walleyes follow baitfish from the bigger lakes to feeder creeks and rivers with current.

Hot Spots To Fish: The Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea (701-421-0360, in North Dakota is a prime walleye destination, as is Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago (920-598-0586,

Tackle You’ll Need: Power fishing it’s not. Though walleyes might fatten up to well over 10 pounds, 2- to 4-pound fish are more the rule. Depending on the average size of the fish, 4- to 10-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon will do.

For spinning enthusiasts, the Quantum Vapor PT with matching rod will work. If you prefer trolling to casting, or bouncing a weight and natural bait on the bottom, try a baitcasting outfit such as a Fenwick/Pflueger Night Hawk or Iron Hawk combo.

Quick tip: Trolling at night with diving jerkbaits, such as the Storm Original ThunderStick or Lucky Craft Pointer 110, is a great way to catch walleyes. Troll in patterns from deep to shallow and back again, as the fish tend to relocate up and down drop-offs and channel runs depending on bait movement.


Best Lures/Bait: Leeches, nightcrawlers, minnows and everything from crankbaits to spinners will find favor with hungry fall walleyes. Top picks include: Rapala’s Shad Rap, Berkley’s Flicker Shad, Mepps’ Black Fury, Rapala’s Husky Jerk and Northland Fishing Tackle’s Forage Minnow Jigging Spoon.

Photograph Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Walleyes weighing more than 10 pounds apiece are routinely caught in the fall, but most fish are "good eating size," averaging about 3 pounds. Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
10 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in South Dakota Make the most of autumn in South Dakota by getting outside. From fun fishing trips to rock climbing, autumn is a South Dakota season that can’t be passed up. Whether you’re interested in going horseback riding in the breathtaking Black Hills or fishing for walleye in one of the state’s many impressive lakes, there’s an activity for everyone. Here are our favorites. 

There is no better way to see the Black Hills countryside than by the vintage steam train, the 1880 Train that travels from Hill City to Keystone. The ride is an hour each way with a 15-minute turnaround time in each station. The train goes through some of the most beautiful views of foliage in South Dakota, so there is plenty of opportunity to view the autumn nature scenes of the Black Hills, as well as the abundance of wildlife in the hills. 

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Hiking in the Black Hills National Forest can be difficult and slow going, which is why some visitors choose to explore the park on horseback. Live the cowboy life for a day on this exciting and scenic tour! You’ll be able to listen to old tales and songs from the cowboys themselves, as well as have a full-on home cooked cowboy meal if you include the dinner packages. Check out what other packages are available on their website!

While the fall trees are amazing from the ground, they’re even better from the bird’s eye view of a hot air balloon. Black Hills Balloons offers a truly one-of-a-kind experience for travelers. For over 30 years, this tour company has provided thrilling rides for customers. The flight lasts about one hour and has gorgeous views of the Black Hills landscape and wildlife. 

As Black Hills Open-Top Tours knows, the Black Hills has so much more than just Mount Rushmore. In fact, Custer State Park is often where tourists end up spending most of their time. On these tours, visitors pack into a comfortable and roomy open-top vehicle and tour the hills. While they offer many tours, one of the most popular is the Mount Rushmore Safari Tour, which tours the Mount Rushmore Monument, Crazy Horse Memorial, Iron Mountain Road, Mount Coolidge Lookout, Needles Highway, and the State Game Lodge at Custer State Park, as well as the new Visitor Center and Wildlife Loop. 

The fall is the best time to pick up a new outdoor hobby before winter begins, and rock climbing is perfect for adrenaline junkies. Climb everywhere from Custer State Park to Devils Tower to around Mount Rushmore. The experience is open to everyone, from beginners to families to seasoned experts. All gear and training is provided. Each climber gets personalized instructions and training from the seasoned climbing guide. Not only do climbers learn a new outdoor skill, but can also see the majestic Custer State Park’s autumn foliage!

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The Black Hills Gold Rush of the 1870s changed everything in the Black Hills. Settlers arrived, established towns, and panned and mined for gold. The town of Deadwood is one of these Gold Rush-era towns that sprang up, and it attracts a cast of characters like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Learn about the insane Wild West history of Deadwood with Boot Hill Tours. The narrated tour goes around Deadwood as the guide tells visitors about local legends, historic buildings, the murder of Wild Bill at Saloon #10, and the lives of local legends.

With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the time of the year for spooky outdoor activities—like exploring the vast Wind Cave by candlelight! This is possible on the Candlelight Cave Tour, in which guides take visitors through a less developed and unlighted section of the sprawling cave system. The tour is strenuous and lasts about two hours. Due to the small group sizes, reservations are strongly encouraged.  

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Estelline is a small town just outside of Watertown, but this tiny town packs in some unbeatable fall fun! Ensure that you get the most out of the last few months of fishing season by hitting the lake with an expert from South Dakota Guided Fishing. These guides provide transportation from Sioux Falls, Brookings, or Watertown to their lodging, and fish at many local lakes like Lake Thompson, Whitewood, East and West Oakwood, Grass Lake, Spirit Lake, Waubay Lake, and many more. You’ll catch everything from perch to walleye to Northern pike with the help of a South Dakota fishing guide.  

The Black Hills is packed full of unique mining history, some of which can still be seen in ghost towns hidden throughout the hills. But these spooky ghost towns can be found and explored with the help of an expert guide from GeoFunTrek Tours in Keystone during one of their day-long tours. If ghost towns aren’t your thing, GeoFunTrek Tours also offer other exciting tour experiences like sunset and stargazing tours of the Badlands, dinosaur and fossil tours, mining and history tours, winery and art gallery tours, and walking tours. 

Imagine leaving your cares behind, gazing up at the stars, breathing in the fresh prairie air, cozying up to warm campfire, and getting lost in the golden foliage. There is no secret that camping in the fall is spectacular, but when you’re surrounded with such beautiful golden landscape, you’ll be having the best time of the season. Badlands National Park has two campgrounds, Cedar Pass Campground is usually open until the end of October/beginning of November, while Sage Creek Campground is open year-round.

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A beginnerโ€™s guide: Ice fishing Vin T. Sparano, as excerpted from Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia: Camping, Fishing, Hunting, Boating, Wilderness Survival, First Aid



Ice fishing differs greatly from open-water fishing, and it is a demanding sport. It requires an understanding of and an ability to cope with winter weather, knowledge of the cold-weather habits of the fish, and the use of an unusual assortment of gear, most of it unique to ice fishing.

There are two basic ice-fishing methods: tip-up fishing and jigging. In general, tip-ups are usually used on larger fish—pike, pickerel, walleyes, trout, and such—that prefer bait and require the angler to play the waiting game. Jigging is usually preferred for smaller fish that tend to school up—bluegills, perch, crappies, and the like. But these are merely generalizations, not hard-and-fast rules. For example, jigging (sometimes called chugging) is often quite productive on big lake trout and salmon in the Great Lakes. 

Also called tilts, these come in various styles, but they all perform two basic functions: they hold a baited line leading from a revolving-type reel spool, and they signal the bite of a fish. The most common type of tip-up consists of three strips of wood, each about 18 inches long. Two are cross pieces that form an X as they span the hole. The third piece is an upright; at its bottom end is attached a simple line-holding spool, while the upper end holds the signaling device. The signal is usually a piece of very flexible spring steel with a red (some anglers prefer black) flag on the end. After the hook is baited and lowered to the desired depth, the steel arm is “cocked”—bent over and down and hooked onto a “trigger.” When a fish strikes, an arm on the revolving spool releases the steel arm and it flies erect.

In this type of tip-up, the reel is positioned underwater. In other variations, the reel is positioned above the ice. Each type has its advantages. The above-the-ice reel can be more sensitively adjusted for light-biting fish, but the line tends to freeze on the reel once it gets wet. The underwater reel largely eliminates the problem of freezing, but the fisherman must remove the tip-up from the hole before he can grab the line.

Baits for tip-up fishing are usually live. In general, it pays to match the size of the bait to the size of the fish you’re after. Baits range from tiny maggots (often called mousies) and grubs for panfish, to worms and small minnows for walleyes, and up to 6-inch baitfish for pike. 

As done by ice fishermen, jigging is simply a method of imparting an up-and-down movement to a lure or bait. Jigging can be—and is—done with any sort of line-holding rod or stick. 

Some jigging rods—more appropriately called sticks—are simply pieces of wood 18 inches or so long, with U-shaped notches in each end. The line—10-pound-test monofilament is very popular—is wound lengthwise onto the stick around the U-shaped notches and is paid out as needed. There are other types of jigging sticks of varying designs, and many ice anglers use standard spinning or spincast rods or the butt half of a fly rod. 

Rods made specially for ice jigging are simple affairs consisting of a fiberglass tip section that is 2 or 3 feet long seated in a short butt. The butt may have a simple revolving-spool reel or merely a pair of heavy-wire projections around which the line is wound. The tip section may have two to four guides, including the tip guide. The shortness of such a rod lets the user fish up close to the hole and have better control over the lure or bait at the end of his line. 

There are many and varied jigging lures and baits, but flashiness is built into most of them. Others produce best when “sweetened” with bait. Two popular jigging lures are: an ungainly looking critter with a heavy body shaped and painted to resemble a baitfish, a hook at each end and a treble hook in the middle of its underside, and a line-tie ring in the middle of its upper surface; and a long, slim, three- or four-sided, silvery model with a treble hook at one end and a line-tie ring at the other. 

Jigging methods vary with the fisherman and with the fish being sought. However, a productive way to fish many jigging lures, especially flashier types, is to twitch the lure slightly and then jerk it suddenly upward with a quick upward movement of the arm. The proper interval between jerks is learned with experience. 

Popular jigging baits include a single perch eye (either impaled on a small hook or used to sweeten a tiny hair or rubber-bodied ice fly), worms, grubs, maggots, insect larvae, minnows, and cut bait (pieces of skin or flesh that are cut from the tail or body of such fish as smelt and perch). 

Jiggers tend to move around more than tip-up fishermen, boring holes in different areas until they find a productive spot. 

Like most other forms of fishing, ice angling requires some auxiliary equipment. Most ice anglers prefer to keep such gear to a minimum, for they have to haul it with them wherever they go on the ice. 

If you’re going to fish through holes in the ice, you need something to make those holes. The ice auger is a popular tool for this job. Augers come in different designs. One has a long handle with a U-shaped bend at the top, and a rounded cutting blade at the bottom. The handle is turned much like that of a manual drill, and the blade cuts a round hole through the ice. Another type looks like a giant ice drill with sharp, widely spaced threads. It is used in the same way. Gasoline-powered ice drills are also available. 

Then there’s the ice spud or chisel. This is a heavy metal handle with a large, chisel-type blade at the bottom. The spud’s weight helps the angler punch down through the ice, but the user must shape the hole once he has broken through. 

An indispensable item of accessory gear is the ice skimmer, a ladle-type device that is used to keep the hole clear of ice chips and chunks and to skim ice. A heavy sinker will serve the same purpose. 

Many ice anglers like to use an attached spring clip. It is attached to the fishing line and used to determine the water depth—an important factor because in winter most game fish are found on or near the bottom. 

Winter is the time of year when ice fishermen venture out onto frozen waters. Most will have fun, but a few will get into trouble because they don’t know how to make sure that the ice is safe. The first rule is never take chances. There are two periods when accidents are likely to happen: early in the season when slush ice doesn’t freeze uniformly and late in the season when ice melts at an uneven rate. It takes prolonged periods of freezing to make ice safe. Here are some rules to remember: 

Be cautious of heavy snowfalls while ice is forming. Snow acts as an insulator. The result is a layer of slush and snow on top of treacherous ice. 

Clear, solid river ice is 15 percent weaker than clear lake ice. 

River ice is thinner midstream than near the banks. 

River mouths are dangerous because currents create pockets of unsafe ice. 

When walking with friends, stay 10 yards apart. 

Lakes that have a lot of springs will have weak spots of ice. 





About the author:

Vin T. Sparano is the author of Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia as well as three other guides for Rizzoli

He has been an outdoor editor and writer for more than fifty years. He is editor emeritus of Outdoor Life, and has written and edited more than fifteen books about the outdoors. In 2013, he was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

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