SPEARFISH CANYON, S.D. (KOTA TV) — The New Year’s snow put a solid base on the snow mobile trails in the Black Hills and it’s putting smiles on the faces of tourists — and tourism businesses — alike.
With over 350 miles of groomed trails, the Black Hills can quite rightly stake a claim as a snow machine mecca. But only if there’s snow, which landed to get 2019 off right.
“We’ve had a lot of fresh snow here in the last week and it’s really brought people in from all over the country to travel here to go snowmobiling,” said Scott Betten, the general manager of the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. “There’re other parts of the country that doesn’t have as much snow as we do and here in our location we have one of the best trail systems in the entire country.”
The state Game, Fish & Parks Department grooms the trails and just this week got enough cover to operate full shifts on its six groomers.
“The snow pack is great,” said Betten. “We started out the year with kind of needing some more snow. The trails opened up Dec. 15 and the trails were in O.K. shape. We needed some more snow and we got that last week.”
We went out to Spearfish Canyon Lodge to see the trails at the heart of and industry that brings an estimated $131 million of economic benefit to the state.
What did we find? Well, it’s just plain big fun.
And what about the tourists? They we loving it.
“Oh yes,” said Mary Sweere, who grew up snowmobiling in South Dakota but now lives in London. “There’s snow which we didn’t think we were going to have and it’s just beautiful. It’s clear and crisp.”
Which industry observers hope will continue all the way through the official end of the season which is March 31.
“The last few years we haven’t made it too far into March so hopefully this year we can get all the way through March.