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Heavy snow leads to big year for winter tourism in South Dakota

A ski run at Terry Peak in Lead
Linda Derosier
A ski run at Terry Peak in Lead

While plenty of us are tired of the snow by now, outdoors enthusiasts are still trying to get the most out of their winter. As a result of the weather, they’ve had plenty of opportunities this year.

For those hitting the slopes and chairlifts, this winter’s weather is the exact opposite of a problem.

In fact, Linda Derosier, marketing director at Terry Peak said as it wraps up, it’s been a strong season.

“We’ve had a great season overall," Derosier said. "We started early and we’re going to be wrapping things up April 2. We’ve had great snowfall this year – we’re approaching 200 inches. We’ve had a great base all season long, which means we can provide good conditions for our skiers and snowboarders throughout the season.”

Derosier said the conditions have been a boon for winter-oriented businesses.

“Since we did get a massive amount of snow early on, it was two weeks before Christmas we got a good amount of snow, which helped us get a good start," Derosier said. "It started our base throughout the season. The snowmobiling had a great season also, because there was that extra snow in the beginning of the season. Past seasons we often see the bigger amounts of snow come later.”

Across the state at the Great Bear Ski Lodge near Sioux Falls, communications director Alexa Jerstad said it’s been an all-time season.

“The consistent snowfall led to a record number of visits," Jerstad said. "To date we’ve seen over 65,000 guests, which beats our previous record of 49,500. The natural snowfall really helps encourage people to come outside and enjoy winter sports, but we’ve been lucky having moderate temperatures, especially on the weekend.”

The final day of skiing at Great Bear is March 26, with a bonus day scheduled for April 1. Jerstad says if weather allows the bonus day to happen, it would be the first time ever Great Bear would offer skiing in April.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture