The only thing predictable about a South Dakota winter is how unpredictable the season will be. We could have an ice storm one day, a melting 50-degree day the next, and two feet of fluffy snow the day after. With weather like this, it can be very tempting to stay indoors. Nothing sounds more appealing on a cold day than being wrapped up in a cozy blanket, binging your favorite show, or working on that puzzle that sits out long after the holiday season has passed, especially on those evenings with the sporadic weather conditions.
But when the winds turn into a gentle breeze and the clouds disappear, outdoor activities may be on the agenda. The Aberdeen Parks, Recreation, and Forestry department has made it possible for people to enjoy those calm, winter days outside their home.
“Part of the fun of living in South Dakota is the wintertime. We try to offer activities for families to enjoy the outdoors,” Recreation Superintendent Gene Morsching said.
And Aberdeen has a great variety of outdoor activities for people of all ages to experience from pond hockey to cross-country skiing to skating. The Parks and Recreation department even built a hill for sledders.
“We live in Aberdeen where, most times, our sledding hills are piles of snow in a parking lot, so we built the sledding hill a number of years ago at Baird Park. When we have enough snow, that has been an extremely popular place for families to go out and do some sledding,” Gene explained.
Gene also emphasized the significance of clearing the trails in Aberdeen. Something as simple as access to a clear walkway is important for people looking to enjoy a breath of fresh air.
“The one other thing that we shouldn’t forget about is that our Parks division, in most cases, maintains the trail system during the wintertime. They work really hard to get the snow removed off of our trail systems,” Gene said. “You’ll see a lot of people out walking in the wintertime.”
Each recreational activity actually requires daily maintenance to keep the area in good condition. The commitment to our outdoor recreation parks, trails, and rinks provides an opportunity for people in Aberdeen to take a break from the indoors and experience seasonal activities.
To encourage people to try winter recreation, the Recreation Division created two days of free activities for both youth and adults. Free Skate Day on Jan. 21 includes free skate rentals at Lincoln and Manor Park outdoor rinks and the indoor rink at Odde Ice Arena. Winter Fun Day at Manor Park is on Feb. 5 and runs from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. You can learn how to ice skate and cross-country ski at no cost. Both events have free hot chocolate!
The wintertime in Aberdeen doesn’t always have to be spent indoors. If you would like to participate in outdoor winter recreation in the area, keep this guide for activities, hours, and costs. //
For details on each activity, find the current Parks & Recreation Guide brochure at www.aberdeen.sd.us/151/Recreation-Division or call the Recreation Division at 605-626-7015.
Outdoor Skating Rinks
1124 Fifth Ave. SW
12th Ave. NE and Jay Street
Open in late December, weather permitting
Weekdays: 4:00 – 9:00 PM
Weekends: 1:00 – 9:00 PM
Skate Rentals: $1 Single; $4 Family
Hot beverages available while you skate at both outdoor rink locations. Check online for closing guidelines at www.aberdeen.sd.us.
12th Ave. NE and Jay Street
Cross Country Ski Rentals
Available at the Manor Park Warming House
$3; $1.50 for children 12 years and younger
Cross Country Skiing Lessons
$16 per class
Beginners: 1:00 – 2:30 PM
Advanced Beginners: 3:00 – 4:30 PM
More details about cross-country skiing at Manor Park available online at www.aberdeen.sd.us.
1715 24th Ave. NE
Free! Must provide your own sleds.
Allowed in all Aberdeen parks except on cross-country ski trails.
Richmond & Mina Lake Recreation Areas
37908 Youth Camp Road
Park Office: 605-626-3488
402 Park Ave., Mina
Cost: A park entrance license is required in any area that is signed as a fee area. Daily, $8; Annual, $36
Venture beyond city limits for more winter recreation! Richmond and Mina Lake recreation areas are great places to enjoy the outdoors close to Aberdeen.
Cross-country skiing: Cross-country ski trails located in Forest Drive area at Richmond Lake. At Mina Lake, park visitors can cross-county ski on the hiking trails.
Sledding: Sledders need to bring their own sleds. The sledding hill at Richmond Lake is located west of campground.
Snowmobiling: Forest Drive warming shelter at Richmond Lake is the trailhead for the Dakota Midland snowmobile trail that connects Aberdeen, Westport, Mina Lake, Richmond Lake, and Frederick. Check trail conditions by calling 1-800-445-3474.
Snowshoeing: Snowshoes are available to check out at Richmond Lake. Call two days in advance to reserve. You must provide your own equipment at Mina Lake.
Walking: At Richmond Lake, a portion of Forest Drive is closed to vehicles but kept open for walkers.