The Black Hills Mountain range in South Dakota starts in the western part of the state and extends west into Wyoming. The mountains get their name due to their darker appearance when seen from a far-off distance. The Black Hills Mountains’ dark shades result from the many evergreen trees covering them. However, when covered in snow, it’s time to put on your snow clothes and grab your skis! Both Terry Peak and Deer Mountain are located in the Black Hills Mountain range, but which provides the best skiing in South Dakota? Let’s look at the winner of Terry Peak vs. Deer Mountain.
Which is Better: Terry Peak Mountain or Deer Mountain?
Does Terry Peak or Deer Mountain offer the best skiing in South Dakota? To answer this question isn’t all that hard, really — that is because, to be frank, the Deer Mountain Ski Resort is no more. Deer Mountain was bought by the real estate investment company Keating Resources, which repurposed the skiing area entirely. Rather than being used for skiing and snowboarding, the mountain’s land is in the process of being repurposed to become a year-round mountain biking park. The mountain biking park is currently scheduled to open to the public in July 2023.
In addition, Keating Resources is building a private community. It will feature almost 200 high-end lots for home building (each with fantastic mountain views). And they call this secluded little home community Deer Mountain Village.
To quote the CEO of Keating Resources on the subject of Deer Mountain:
“The ski resort, which had provided such good memories, had been shuttered for five years… we’ve brought it back to life. The roads are roughed in, the 200 lots provide spectacular mountain views, and the mountain biking’s going to be a really cool, fun venue.”— Gerard Keating, CEO of Keating Resources
So, when it comes to the question of which venue is home to the best skiing in South Dakota — Terry Peak Mountain or Deer Mountain — it’s NOT going to be going to Deer Mountain (even though there is still a major attraction of the country’s largest snow tubing run there, and soon to be mountain biking trails).
Rather, if you’re looking for the best skiing in South Dakota, your best bet is to go to Terry Peak Ski Area. So, in the final analysis of which is the best place to go skiing this winter for Terry Peak vs. Deer Mountain, it’s clear the answer is Terry Peak!
Terry Peak Mountain Ski Area: The Best Skiing in South Dakota
Close to the Deer Mountain project is the neighboring mountain known as Terry Peak. Also within the Black Hills Mountain range, Terry Peak is the ultimate winter getaway in South Dakota. Its unbeatable skiing and snowboarding experiences and family-friendly atmosphere make it a great place to take the whole family.
Opportunities and Activities
At Terry Peak Mountain Ski Area, there is something to do for everyone:
- The large Terrain Park offers skiers of all skill levels (beginner, intermediate, and/or expert) rail features and jump boxes.
- The slope is easily accessible, with three high-speed detachable quad chairlifts in use. All major lifts converge at the top of the mountain (making it quick and easy to find your ski party).
- Stewart Lodge is the main lodge where ski lessons and a ski rental shop can be found. There’s also a retail store, cafeteria, and lounge there as well.
- Nevada Gulch Lodge has the famous Dark Horse Saloon (if you’ve heard of it). You can buy your daily lift tickets at either Stewart or Nevada Gulch Lodge (keeping things simple for the skiers).
Throughout the season, there are a variety of planned events. You can review these on the Terry Peak events calendar.
How Are Terry Peaks’ Winter Slopes?
To be honest, most of the snow on the winter slopes at Terry Peak is tightly packed. This is due to the small amounts of natural snowfall Terry Peak receives each year (and from month to month). The temperatures at Terry Peak can vary a lot. There can be sub-zeros temperatures one day, but the next day might be over 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In the middle of the winter, average temperatures tend to be around 29 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ski season at Terry Peak begins in December as long as there is enough snowfall. On average, natural snowfall is 26 inches in December, 23 inches in January, 29 inches in February, and 19 inches in March. The snow-making crews cover and prep the slopes with natural or synthetic snow. Snowmaking creates a stable foundation for over 60% of the terrain. They use a snow machine to increase the volume or quantity of snow. However, many ski reviewers say it is a good place to practice . . . in order to go to the better places — like Alaska, Switzerland, or Italy, for instance.
However, not everyone has the luxury of skiing alone or with their adult friends. If there are different interests among individuals in your party (besides just skiing), there are also a lot of other things available for family members to do. So, it’s a happy medium for individuals who are in such scenarios. For example, close to Terry Peaks, you can visit the historic old western town of Deadwood, check out the “Mile High City” of Lead, or ride through the 300-mile snowmobile trail system at the Black Hills.
The Deer Mountain Project and Private Community
So, what happened to the Deer Mountain Ski Resort that was so popular before it shut down? To start with, Deer Mountain’s land in the Black Hills Mountain range has been bought and sold a few times over the past several years. Deer Mountain was previously known as Mystic Miner Ski Resort. The latest purchase occurred in 2017 by the real estate investment company Keating Resources.
At the time the land was purchased, the CEO of Keating Resources, Gerard Keating, announced the shutdown of the Deer Mountain Ski Resort for the next several years. He explained that:
“We just loved its history. It operated from 1968 until 2017 and many people had fun there. We thought it would be a great value for what we were buying it for, to develop lots around it and reactivate the winter venue…
As a matter of fact, we are in communication with Terry Peak about potentially managing this forest because they have a great operation, which I respect, and we’re trying to work with them because they have the experience and ability to manage it.”— Gerard Keating, CEO of Keating Resources
Will There Be Skiing at the New Deer Mountain?
Keating announced the projection date of reopening the Deer Mountain area to be December 1, of 2022. This also includes new additions to the area — such as a large million dollar 750 foot lift. The sizable lift will take its cargo and passengers to the top of what is to be one of the largest snow tubing runs in the country! The resort is not open at this time.
There’s been much speculation around the internet about Deer Mountain’s skiing operations, and if they will ever reopen again — and if skiers and snowboarders will be allowed to once again have access to the ski lifts up the mountain slopes. The answer to that question, unfortunately, is no. At least, skiing and snowboarding at Deer Mountain will not be available to the public, although it may still be an option for the private community of Deer Mountain Village.
Deer Mountain’s New Mountain Bike Park
However, Keating Resources has announced that a 150-acre winter sports venue will also reopen, with a focus on snow tubing runs, not skiing. Keating Resources also plans on putting in a massive Mountain Biking Park — one that would operate 365 days out of the year — beginning or opening on the 4th of July, 2023.
The plan is to revitalize and utilize the old resort’s infrastructure (such as the ski lifts, extended cables, etc.). Simultaneously, new trails and features will be added to accommodate the goals of the new mountain bike park for seasonal touring customers and mountain biking sport enthusiasts. The new park is projected to attract thousands of tourists to South Dakota and create adventures for all skill levels — with fun activities for the novices, intermediates, and experts alike. For South Dakota, it will be a nice economic boost.
“We expect between 5,000 and 10,000 bikers per year to be on the venue… So the impact to the Black Hills region will be in the millions… Our company invests about $10 million in South Dakota. We love it. Love the people and love the opportunity.
If your dream is to get away from it all and have a mountainside home, there won’t be anything better in South Dakota than what we’re going to be offering.”—Gerard Keating, CEO of Keating Resources
The construction of the new mountain bike park is to begin this summer (2023), according to the architectural designs created by Pete Costain — an architect from Montana working on the project. In the meantime, if you want the best skiing in South Dakota, visit Terry Peak.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com
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