Above, Great Bear Park
Great Bear Recreation Park, Sioux Falls • 20 skiable acres on 200′ vertical
Specs: 3 Lifts: 1 quad, 2 surface. Uphill capacity: 1600/hr. Terrain Mix: 25-50-25. Season: usually December to March. Night skiing 7 days. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 150″.
The SKInny: Town tow run by Sioux Falls Parks & Rec in combination with a non-profit corporation. Great recreational outlet for the kids of Sioux Falls. Ideal for learning; also has some terrain park stuff. Nice little operation with full-fledged grooming, lodge, etc. We always recommend supporting these places.
Signature Trail: Polar Pass.
Deer Mountain, Deadwood • 200 skiable acres on 800′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 7000′; Base elevation: 6200′. 4 Lifts: 1 triple, 2 doubles, 1 mitey-mite. Uphill capacity: 2300/hr. Terrain Mix: 40-40-20. Longest Run: 5280′. Season: usually early December to late March, Wed-Sun. Night skiing Fri & Sat. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 150″. Snowmaking: 30%.
The SKInny: The Black Hills “other” ski area, Deer Mountain is a bit of a throwback. Whatever you call it, skiers agree that it is a top quality experience. Lifts tend to crawl, plenty of snowboarders, but there is also plenty of room. Some off-piste stuff. Wanderers will be ok, hotshots too. The real target is beginners and intermediates.
Ski Mystic • See Deer Mountain, above
Terry Peak, Lead • 400 skiable acres on 1100′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 7052′; Base elevation: 5900′. 5 Lifts: 2 quads, 2 triples, 1 double. Uphill capacity: 6500/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-70-10. Longest Run: 10,560′. Season: usually late November to early April. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 150″. Snowmaking: 60%.
The SKInny: Biggest ski area between New York and the Rockies, but not a heck of a lot of challenge. Novices and developing intermediates will love Terry Peak, and rightly so. Wanderers will be ok, but the hotshot will be a bit bored. Beginners will do fine. Approaches and scenery — as well as the overall skiing — is excellent. Liftlines can get long on weekends. All in all, Terry Peak is the best ski area on the prairie.
Signature Trail: Holy Terror.
Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets. I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down.