The Northern Hemisphere is quickly making its way back into the sunshine, meaning that winter is quickly coming to a close. Before that happens, we made sure to fit in one last winter trip this season. We just got back from a long weekend of snowmobiling in the Black Hills of South Dakota with Polaris Adventures.
Planning our Snowmobiling trip with Polaris Adventures
To be honest, we hadn’t considered a snowmobiling trip so far away from home before. The logistics seemed basically unattainable. From bringing snowmobiles on a 16-hour voyage in a trailer and packing all the necessary snowmobile gear – it just didn’t seem possible. However, the experience couldn’t have gone any smoother than with Polaris Adventures.
Planning our trip this way guaranteed more fun and fewer headaches when figuring out the details. Polaris Adventures took care of the hard parts, all we had to do was choose the perfect adventure.
This adventure ended up being the perfect amount of time for us. A long weekend allows time to cover most of the must-see highlights of the Black Hills Snowmobile Trails. A three-day weekend won’t allow you to see absolutely everything, but if you love to ride and explore the trails, you’ll still have the opportunity to see most of the good stuff. A four-day trip allows the chance to explore outside of your adventure and visit regional highlights like Mt. Rushmore.
What is Polaris Adventures
You’re probably familiar with at least some of the awesome off-road vehicles that Polaris makes including the RZR, the Slingshot, and of course snowmobiles like we rode during our adventure in the Black Hills. However, what you might not know is that Polaris Adventures essentially helps you book rides and drive adventures in extraordinary locations.
Polaris Adventures partners with Outfitters across the country to set up incredible experiences, all you need to do is show up ready to ride! For our trip, Polaris Adventures set us up with snowmobiles at Spearfish Canyon Lodge. Clothing and helmets were already set aside for us, and there were even local experts who guided us through the trails.
Their extensive list of Outfitters gives you access to all kinds of trips in various climates and terrains for your next off-road adventure. If you are looking for some inspiration, their website allows you to search for adventures based on region or adventure type. It’s an awesome way to add an adventurous element to your next trip without the hassle.
Polaris Adventures works out the details for you which means there’s no need to pack (or buy) heavy bulky items like helmets, gloves, and other gear. You could easily book one of their adventures and pack it in just a weekend bag. As you can imagine, Polaris Adventures take their equipment quality pretty seriously – so you know you are renting quality machines from highly vetted Outfitters. Meaning you can ride without worries no matter if this your first ride or your 100th.
Snowmobiling in the Black Hills
We have visited the Black Hills at many different times of the year, but this was our first winter trip – and it did not disappoint. These magical hills and canyons are stunning any time of the year but when they are covered in a dusting of snow – the view is nothing short of magical. Cruising along on our snowmobiles we got a much deeper look into the Black Hills than you could ever reach on the roads. Take it from us, snowmobiling here should be #1 on your winter bucket list.
Our Snowmobiling Trip in Spearfish Canyon
To start our trip we flew to Rapid City, South Dakota, and made our way to Spearfish Canyon Lodge. Nested inside of the tall rock walls of Spearfish Canyon Lodge is a charming wooden lodge complete with miles of snowmobile trails.
On our first day, we picked up our snowmobile rentals from the outfitter which was conveniently located right at the lodge. Everything was arranged as part of our trip with Polaris Adventures including the vehicles, the equipment, and the itinerary. When we arrived the check-in and rental process took less than 10 minutes.
We geared up in full snowsuits, boots, and helmets to prepare for our adventure. After a short safety video, they gave us tips on what trails to visit, and their personal favorite spots to ride to. After the video they even gassed up our sleds for us – and just like that, we were out on the trails.
Within a few minutes, we were surrounded on both sides by the massive rock walls of the canyon. This impressive stretch of the canyon followed the river as it snaked its way back and forth for 10 miles. While there were many great sights, this section of the trail near the lodge would definitely be one of our favorites over the next few days.
Our first stop was Cement Ridge at the end of the 3C trail which came highly recommended by the local guides and came complete with unbelievable panoramic views. We had the whole viewpoint all to ourselves so we decided to hop off the snowmobiles and just enjoy the view for a while.
We spent the afternoon cruising through valleys of untouched powdery snow and wound up stumbling across some old-time farm buildings.
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After riding nearly 100 miles on our first day we headed back to the lodge just as the sun was starting to set. We warmed up in the room with some hot drinks on the balcony while we watched the sunset. Getting lost in the moment was easy because we didn’t have to worry about coordinating tomorrow’s details as everything was taken care of by Polaris Adventures.
Day 2 of our Black Hills Snowmobiling Trip
On the second day of our trip, we woke up with the sun and took a quick sunrise drone flight before heading out for the day. We had a big ride planned so we wanted to get an early start. We ate breakfast at the lodge restaurant which was included in our package along with the snowmobile rentals and lodge. After a hearty meal, we set off to see the highlights on the southern part of the Black Hills Snowmobile Trails.
Our goal of the day was to make it to Flag Mountain Outlook along Trail 2.
After about two hours of riding through amazing scenery, we made it all the way up to the top for what was our favorite viewpoint of the entire trip. The best part was we had it to ourselves for more than an hour as we climbed the rocks and filled our memory cards with beautiful shots of this great spot!
After enjoying Flag Mountain we continued south to Mt. Meadows for lunch at a restaurant along the trails before heading back to the lodge. On our way back, we decided to take the scenic route and check out a different set of trails. We cruised back through our favorite section of trails just as the sun started to hide behind the tall canyon walls filling it with a soft golden glow. We parked our sleds just in time to watch the sunset from the lodge with a nice wide section of the canyon.
Day 3 of our Adventurous Winter Weekend Getaway
On our last day, we set out early to put a few more miles on the snowmobiles before heading back home. We found a few more scenic spots and made a couple more memories before dropping our sleds off after a great weekend of snowmobiling in the Black Hills.
We made sure to leave ourselves just a few hours before heading back to the airport to take in some of the other highlights in the area. Aside from the great snowmobiling, there are also some awesome sights that are worth checking out near the Black Hills.
One unique stop was just down the road from the lodge called Bridal Veil Falls. In the winter the falls freeze, leaving a 60-foot tall icicle standing just off the road on Highway 14A. For more ideas of activities off the trails, keep reading to the bottom of the post!
Overall it was one of our favorite trips of this past winter and we will definitely be looking at more locations to snowmobile again with Polaris Adventures next winter!
Snowmobile Trails in the Black Hills South Dakota
Nestled in the Black Hills there are more than 350 miles of amazing trails surrounded by stunning scenery. There are various types of terrain including everything from narrow-tall walled canyons to wide-open meadows full of powder. There are sections to cruise wide open spaces and windy tracks filled with snow-covered pines.
Plus there are all sorts of adventures to be had alongside the trails filled with beautiful birch trees and sloping hillsides.
Whether you’re a professional or novice snowmobile rider you won’t be disappointed with a trip out here. There are several stunning outlooks and more than enough trails and adventures to fill a week-long trip.
Snowmobiling Season in the Black Hills
According to our local guides, you can plan a snowmobiling trip in the Black Hills from Christmas all the way through the beginning of April. We rode in late March and there was still a lot of snow and the trails were still in good shape despite some warm weather. The trails were nicely groomed and right next to the trail the snow was still nearly up to your hips.
This picture-perfect wooden lodge was the perfect base for our adventure. We had easy access to all of the trails and were close to some of the best trails of the trail system. On top of being close to the trails, there are a number of other reasons it was a great stay.
The log-style lobby was warm and cozy – everything you’d expect from a lodge in this part of the country. It made for a great place to relax and warm up. Plus there are outdoor hot tubs on the deck of the second floor with great views of the canyon.
They also had a whole fleet of brand new Polaris snowmobiles to rent along with all of the gear. They are one of the Outfitters that are part of the Polaris Adventures program and our trip with them was seamless.
In the summer months in the Black Hills and Spearfish Canyon, you can get your adventure fix in the form of Polaris RZR off-road two-seater ATVs.
More things to do in the Black Hills & Spearfish Canyon in Winter
There is no shortage of things to do in the Black Hills to complement a snowmobiling trip. Many of the same things that bring tourists in the summer months are also great during the winter, but with fewer people and a nice dusting of snow. Here are a few other activities found in the Black Hills.
Check out the frozen Bridal Veil Falls
If there is snow on the snowmobile trails, chances are good that the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls, also located in Spearfish Canyon, is caught in the icy grip of winter filled with ice instead of its normal thin stream of water.
Related Article: The Perfect South Dakota Road Trip
Visit Historical Deadwood
A must-see place is the old west town of Deadwood, filled with all sorts of entertainment options. Deadwood has everything from museums to casinos with plenty of restaurants and historical drinking establishments. Deadwood is a fun place to spend an afternoon or evening on a snowmobile trip to the Black Hills.
See the Presidents dusted in snow at Mt. Rushmore
Even if you have seen Mt. Rushmore before, it’s worth the trip to check it out with snow on the ground. It looks completely different and it’s a lot less busy than in the summertime.
Sip some brews at Dakota Shives Brewery
Warm up after your snowmobiling adventure with some local craft brews at Dakota Shivers Brewery. Sample your way through a large paddle of beers in this old west decorated taproom that fits in perfectly with its historic surroundings – just make sure you’re done snowmobiling for the day and you have a safe ride back!
Try an Indian Taco at Cheyenne Crossing
Another Spearfish Canyon classic is the Indian Taco at Cheyenne Crossing which is a mashup of traditional Native American Frybread with Tex-Mex fixings. The dish ends up being more akin to a plate of nachos but is tasty and the portions are more than generous.
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This adventure was made possible with our partnership with Polaris Adventures – all opinions are our own.