605 Outdoor Wonders: Great Bear Recreation Park
By Anna Stritecky
Sometimes you may think you know the extent for a certain destination, but then realize it can be turned into something very different. For most South Dakota residents, that is Great Bear Ski Valley, which is most popularly known for its winter activities, is next up on the summer list of places to see.
Great Bear during the summer is beautiful for exploration, because you get all of the beauty of the rolling hills and paths without the snow covering up all of the green underneath. Even though Great Bear doesn’t have any particular historical significance, it is still a gem in itself. Located between Sioux Falls and Brandon, this park can be used from an afternoon skiing to a morning hike.
My experience with Great Bear consisted of exploration around the park. Nothing built onto the land, no man made stops, just what South Dakota has to offer. There are various hiking trails, all eventually running into another trail, so it is possible to walk around for hours. Theses trails are filled with tall grass, running streams and trees as far as you can see.
As I kept hiking around, Great Bear was one of the first parks that made me appreciate South Dakota for what is truly has to offer, seeing they have the land basically untouched in the back part of the valley. Other than the trails, Great Bear does have a lodge for skiing during the winter, and even wedding receptions and graduation open houses in the summer. Nonetheless, all year Great Bear has excess beauty that contributes to the most natural of South Dakota landscapes.